Three Freelance Writing Requests You Should *Always* Refuse

Aiming for money vs aiming for growth (aka BIG money)

Three Freelance Writing Requests You Should *Always* Refuse
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Aiming for money vs aiming for growth (aka BIG money)

Being a full-time writer is a rollercoaster ride.

It can be one hell of a journey, especially if you write for freelance clients. You might find clients that are so good, you almost feel they’re mentoring you and paying you for it. On the other hand, you might find people who suck your life’s blood and make you regret deciding to become a writer.

That said, there are some mistakes every freelance writer can easily avoid. But it’s the lack of awareness and resources that lead freelance writers to fall into the same traps over and over again.

I quit my job this September, but I’ve been writing for freelance clients since December 2020. And in this post, I’ve compiled the three types of freelance offers that drain your time and energy that you should always say no to.

If you’ve just started freelancing, or even if you are an established freelance writer, read on for the type of clients you should always say no to.

1. People who are surprised by the rates you propose

A freelancing red flag you should always ignore (Screenshot by the author).

The world of freelance writing is quite huge. There are thousands of writers on Upwork and Fiverr who will write 1000 words for just $5.

But remember, if you want to make it a full-time career, you’re not competing against people like these. You’re not even competing against the writers who will ghostwrite a whole book for $10,000.

The rates you quote are the result of your unique experience and learning curves that have led you to where you are today. These are worth more than the number of words you add to the article, but your expertise in the area and the lessons you’ve learned from experience.

All of that is irreplaceable. No matter how many times the client says that they can find someone who’ll do it cheaper that you, they won’t ever get the same quality.

You should know that and value your own skills. Keep in mind all the amazing things you bring to the table in addition to just a word count.

The key takeaway

If a client is surprised by your rates and says they know people who can do it for cheaper, let them. They might find another writer, but they won’t ever find another you.

If you’re worried about missing out on the money, unfortunately, there’s no point in filling up your time with low-paying gigs. If you keep pitching to new clients and keep space open on your schedule, you’re definitely going to attract the right kind of client who values your talent and is happy to pay you for your unique voice.

2. One-off projects that have no long-term value

When you’re struggling, it’s easy to get blinded by the instant money a one-off gig promises and say yes to any offer that comes your way.

An important point to remember here is that money shouldn’t be your sole focus, especially at the start of your freelance writing career. You should focus on building valuable relationships that keep paying you in the long run, so you can build a stable income stream through these leads.

So, the next time you receive a high-paying offer, pause for a moment and think if there’s a way you can turn it into a long-term project.

I’m not against one-off gigs. They are a great way to make some quick bucks. But if you keep doing one one-off gig after another, you won’t ever have the time or mental space in your life to welcome long-term projects.

And without having a long-term high-paying gig, how will you find stability in your freelance career?

The key takeaway

No matter how tempting having ten one-off projects in a month might sound, try and say no to a few. This way, you can say yes to something that keeps paying you over and over again without the added extra effort of hunting for new clients or writing pitches.

3. Clients that pay per hour

I’m not against charging an hourly rate for your work. In fact, there might be so many types of gigs where freelancers would benefit if they’re being paid by the hour.

But writing is definitely not one of them.

If you’re an experienced writer who has been writing for 10 years, you’d easily be able to churn out 3000-word articles on just two hours. But if you’re a newcomer, that same article would take you 20+ hours. If we go by the pay-per-hour logic, the newbie writer would be earning much more than the experienced writer.

But of course, this is an oversimplification and this is not how things work. It’s just an example to emphasize my point of why charging by the hour isn’t a very good idea.

The key takeaway

Sure, there are several successful writers who still charge by the hour. But I think a project-based fee can lead to much more wealth creation and value building in the long run compared to projects that pay you by the hour.

Your work shouldn’t be measured in the time that it took you to create it. It should be measured in the value it brings to the client.

Closing thoughts

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my freelance writing journey is that rather than being so focused on earning money in the short term, it pays off to have a growth mindset.

If you can zoom out, look at the bigger picture and evaluate how each project will benefit you two years down the line, you’ll find you’re saying YES to much better projects that help advance your career and make your CV look more impressive.

Summing up here are the three types of projects I feel every freelance writer should say no to:

  1. Clients who are *surprised* by your rates.
  2. One-off projects that can’t be turned into long-term gigs.
  3. Clients who pay you by the hour.

What is their experience of freelance writing been so far? What are the biggest setbacks that you have seen in your journey? Leave a comment to let me know.

Want high-paying writing clients faster? I’ve created an Action plan to help you Get Your First High-Paying Client in just 90 Days. Grab it here.

Got questions? Leave a comment below or shoot me a DM on Twitter.

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