How do you decide which jobs to keep, which new ones to take, and which ones to decline?
Not too long ago, I received an email from Melissa at Mom's Plans. She had an interesting question about deciding which freelance jobs to turn down, which clients to cut, and which new jobs to take on. When you're a freelance writer, which clients to keep, and which jobs to take on, can be one of the most difficult decisions there is.
Indeed, not too long ago I actually had to make the decision to stop working with a few clients. It was very hard for me because I really enjoyed working with all of my clients at that time. However, I needed to make the hard choices — and that meant shaking up my list.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide which freelance jobs to take, keep and decline:
Do You Enjoy Who You Work With?
As I told Melissa, my number one consideration is how much I think I will enjoy working with a client. And, I'll keep a client that I enjoy working with, even if s/he pays a little bit less. If a client is difficult to work with, slow to pay, or super-demanding, it might be time to stop working with him or her.
However, sometimes you do have to let go someone you enjoy working with. That was the choice I had to make. All of my clients were enjoyable, and easy to work with. So, I had to resort to considering other factors as I made my recent decisions.
How Much Work Do You Do for the Client?
Look at how much work you are doing for the client. Does s/he provide you with a steady stream of income? If you receive regular work from a client, or if a potential client is offering you regular work, that might be a deciding factor. Being able to nail down a portion of your income, so that you can count on it each month, can be a real plus.
On the other hand, it can be important not to come to rely to much on any one client too heavily. What happens if s/he suddenly stops using your services? You could find yourself without the income you have relied. Strike a balance between regular clients, and the desire to leave room for other, less regular (but potentially better-paying) projects.
What Are You Paid?
Naturally, your pay from a particular client is of interest when deciding which jobs to take. Right now, I won't take on a new job unless it meets a certain threshold requirement for pay. And, when deciding which clients to cut a couple of months ago, I had to resort to cost-efficiency because I enjoyed working with these clients, and they all offered regular work. I consider which jobs are cost-efficient in terms of compensation for time put in. Sometimes, a higher paying job may require so much time that it's not worth the effort. However, a smaller job might be worth doing because the amount of research needed to complete the assignment might be small.
Sometimes, though, no amount of money is it worth working with a difficult client. A few years ago, I had a client that paid extremely well. However, he was always wanting to change the terms of the agreement, and always springing last-minute assignments on me. It became difficult to know when one of these projects was going to crop up — and whether the focus on the project was going to change partway through. In the end, I decided the money wasn't worth the hassle.
What are Your Goals?
When you first start out as a freelancer, sometimes you have to take jobs you don't want to do. I spent a significant amount of time churning out keyword articles at first. And I contributed regularly to content farms like Associated Content. I knew that I had to make money online, and I had to do it regularly. So I did what I had to.
But, thankfully, I no longer need to write meaningless keyword articles about window treatments, or post every day on a contributor site (although if something happened, and I had to, I would). I am lucky enough that now I can consider what I want to do next.
Figure out what kind of work you want to do. I have been ghostwriting more books recently, and find that I enjoy doing that. I also decided to start my own personal finance blog. Additionally, I had been wanting to cut back a little bit for a while, so I did.
Ultimately, you have to figure out what you want to do with your freelancing career. You need to decide what sort of work you want to do, and where you want to be in the future. Even though you might be stuck doing work you don't enjoy right now, you still need a career strategy for your freelance work, and goals for the future. Decide now how you will make the transition, and plan for it.