How To Know When To Turn A Job Down
Updated: Jun 17
As a freelancer, especially when you're first starting out and finding your footing, it can be hard to say no to jobs or projects that come your way. When your income isn't fixed, turning a job down can be fraught with anxiety - you might be worrying about not getting enough work for the month. But being concerned about the amount of work you're being offered is no reason to accept jobs that you should be turning down. Here, I'll give you an overview of a few signs that you should politely decline work you've been offered.
The pay is too low
Every freelancer knows the struggle - you're contacted by a company, agency or organisation (or you contact them), you find out the details of the project, all seems well - until you find out the rates offered. These days, there are a lot of people out there offering rates that are quite honestly laughable - I've been requested to create content for as little as $5 per 1000 words. It goes without saying that these rates are unfair and exploitative. As a freelancer, you need to know your worth, and that certainly includes walking away from jobs that pay too little.
You're not interested in the work
If you get offered a job or project that isn't within your scope of expertise, isn't interesting to you, or simply sounds dull, it's best to turn the work down. Taking on a job that you're not excited about will make working on it a chore, and you likely won't bring as much enthusiasm to the project as you should. With that said - as a freelancer, there will likely be times when it's necessary to take on jobs that you find a little boring. If you need the money, there's no question that you should accept work that is in your wheelhouse and pays well.
You get a bad vibe from the employer
If there's one thing I've learned in my freelancing career, it's to trust my instinct. From the very first message I receive from a potential client, I'm assessing whether we'd be a good fit to work together. When communicating with someone you might want to work with, make sure you pay attention to how they speak to you - do they come across as demanding, irritable or difficult in their first messages to you? If that's the case, then I can assure you this is a sign of worse things to come. At this point, I've developed a great sense of what might turn into a challenging or unpleasant client - and I know that accepting the work is simply not worth it to me.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on knowing when to turn a job down - good luck out there!