That Point at Which You Turn Down Freelance Writing Gigs

It’s hard to say no to freelance writing gigs. But I’ve reached that point with my current life and workload.

Anyone who knows what it’s like to hustle for a living feels bad when they turn down client work. Even though I have a comfortable freelance income, and a decent enough reputation, I still feel bad when I turn down freelance writing gigs. (Being able to help a fellow writer land a gig that I turned down assuages the pain a bit.) You don’t want to turn something down, because you feel like you should never say no to money.

What happens if you miss your chance?

But at some point, you start turning down the gigs. At some point, you draw the line and say not one more.

I have arrived at this point.

freelance writing gigs

My life has been something of a mess since about the beginning of May. I’ve got a lot going on, personally and professionally. Not too long ago, I was asked to write two — just two — relatively short posts. And I said no. Normally, I’m willing to do (discounted) work for this person. But that day, as I tried again to get the employer-contracted movers to throw me a bone, and as I sent out another round of emails begging for swag for Plutus Awards Winner Gift Bags, and as I looked at my client work, something in me rebelled against the idea of doing even one more post.

And that’s the day I started telling everyone no.

Deciding to Turn Down Freelance Writing Gigs

This doesn’t mean that I’m wholesale saying no to everything. I have, in fact, accepted commissions to write a couple of articles since then. But these articles are Priority Articles (read: Client Is Paying LOTS Of Money), as opposed to discounted articles.

I’ve finally reached that point where I have to decide exactly what is worth doing right now. Putting together your social media campaign is not something I have the emotional energy for. Not when I’m trying to make sure my son’s vital documents are all together for a new school district, I’m trying to make sure all of our services transfer over, and I’m going through piles of paperwork related to selling our home.

Just. No.

It’s hard to turn down freelance writing gigs. But I’m doing it. I’m also doing it the “right” way, which is making sure that I’m not slamming the door on opportunities.

Instead of flat out saying “no,” I’m saying “not right now.”

See, with moving, and getting settled (including getting my son squared away to start middle school in a brand-new state), and my regular client work (which pays the bills), and Plutus, and FinCon, plus the Money Mastermind Show and a cool podcast project I’m working on, I’m pretty well tapped out.

The things listed above are the things that I want to take care of. But they are taking up all of my time right now. So extra freelance writing gigs are off the table until FinCon is over. Interestingly, once FinCon is over, many of my other issues will be smoothed out as well. We will have (hopefully) settled into our new home, and my son will be (hopefully) thriving in his new school. My new projects will be well underway and moving fairly smoothly. And, of course, Plutus and FinCon will have both been amazingly fun triumphs.

But none of that shakes out and resolves until September 21. So I’m telling everyone, “no new projects/gigs/whatever until October.” (Because, let’s be honest, I’m getting old and the amount of awesome that happens at FinCon requires days of rest and recuperation.) I make it clear that I’m not slamming the door shut. I’m merely closing it most of the way. There is a crack between the door and the jamb. In October, we can start nudging it open.

At some point, you are likely to find yourself in this position, too. There will probably come a time when you need to decide which things in your life and in your work are most important right now. At some point, you’ll realize that just adding another $50 or $100 or whatever to the monthly revenue stream isn’t worth the sacrifice of time/sanity/relationship. At that point, you need to decide where your focus should be, and consider saying no to the next gig that pops up.


5 Responses to That Point at Which You Turn Down Freelance Writing Gigs

    • That really is a good feeling! When you feel like you’re to the point where you don’t HAVE to do everything just anyone throws at you.

  1. Hurrah! I did the same for a crappy client I’d been hating, and am doing the same for crappy blog advertisers.

    • Ha. That’s awesome. You just get to that point, don’t you? Where you just have to say, “It’s not worth it anymore. NO.”

  2. Yeah, learning when to say no is definitely a skill for any freelancer. Even when work is bountiful, you realize it could all dry up at some point, so you want to get it in while the getting is good, but then again, you can run yourself crazy just trying to keep up with the work load, and then everything starts to suffer either way. I guess it’s all about reaching that delicate balancing point between insanity and success.

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