6 Reasons to Turn Down a Freelance Gig

No matter how much money you are offered, not every freelance gig is worth doing.

It’s not always easy to decide which freelance jobs to take on and which to pass on. Sometimes, money is a deciding factor. Sometimes, it’s possible to avoid any inconvenience if you are offered enough money.

On the other hand, though, there are several reasons to reject a freelance gig, even if it pays well. Some headaches aren’t worth any amount of money.

1. The client is Unethical or Illegal

Anytime a freelance gig requires you to do something illegal, your answer should be “no.” It’s also a good idea to avoid gigs that could be seen as unethical. While you might not be breaking the law, you probably also don’t want a reputation as someone seedy. Stay away from these types of gigs.

2. You’ve Been Asked to Work for Way Too Little

Recently, I was approached by a site to provide content. While the freelance gig offered a small amount of pay, the representative kept emphasizing the “great exposure” I would be getting. Be wary of freelance gigs offering too little or clients asking you to do more without increasing your pay.

Sometimes, working for free or for a small payment makes sense. It can make sense if you provide gratis services to a charity or close friend for a set period. Additionally, some gigs raise your profile and help you establish credibility. An occasional free piece for these publications can be a smart business move.

By and large, though, stay away from “portfolio piece” and “spec” assignments.

3. You Don’t Have the Time

Really look at your schedule, and consider whether or not you have time for the assignment. Sometimes, it makes sense to say no if you are afraid you will have to rush through and do a sloppy job. And don’t just look at it in terms of work. What sort of time out of your life will you have to give up to complete the assignment? Don’t give up something important to squeeze out a few extra dollars.

4. The Project is Beyond Your Expertise

Early in my career, I could design a logo because I had taken a graphic design class. I managed to do it, but it took hours and was not worth the trouble. Graphic design isn’t my area of expertise. Since then, I’ve turned down projects that don’t fit the narrow definition of “freelance writer” or other areas I’m not interested in. If you don’t have the knowledge and skills to do a great job, turn down the project.

5. You and the Client Aren’t on the Same Page

It can be difficult to please a client when you don’t know what he or she wants. In some cases, this can be cleared up with a few questions. However, if you constantly seem on a different page than your client or can’t agree on project parameters, letting the freelance gig go might be best.

6. It Doesn’t Pass the “Smell Test”

Some freelance jobs seem too good to be true. If this is the case, then it probably is. Watch out for phony offers. If the pay is really good, check into the company’s reputation. Yes, there are a number of high-paying freelance jobs out there for skilled and experienced professionals. However, some clients promise high pay and then fail to deliver. If you have questions, check into the background of the client, or ask for some of the money up front.

But, really, if you think there’s something fishy going on, it’s better to just say no.

What are some of the red flags you use to determine whether or not to turn down a freelance gig?

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