Refusing assignments as a freelancer can be scary. After all, you never know whether you will still have enough work. Yet it can be worthwhile to say no now and then.
When science journalist Jop de Vrieze started freelancing eleven years ago, he took on every job that came his way. "Whether it was a press release or correction work for a publisher. I did it all," he says.
It is not surprising that de Vrieze as a starting freelancer did not dare to refuse assignments. As a self-employed person without a fixed income, you never know for sure whether you will have enough work in the coming months. Taking on all the odd jobs that occur will feel a lot safer.
Moreover, according to ZZP Barometer, freelancers are afraid of losing clients. "Saying no to a client may also mean saying no to assignments in the future," says an article on the website.
"No" is also good negotiating tactics
However, the occasional no sells you more in the long run. "It's even an important part of negotiation," says negotiating coach Jeanette de Haas. Since 2011 she has been providing training in negotiation to entrepreneurs. "For example, clients can offer you a job for a very low rate," she says.
"The moment someone cannot meet the conditions that you need to be able to do your work, you better refuse an assignment." Jeanette Haas, negotiating coach
She advises against going along with it. If only because you can be more consistent in terms of your rates. "Imagine, two of your customers meet each other and they find out that one pays much more than the other," she says. "This seems unprofessional and can get you in trouble."
According to de Haas, it is even more important that you as an entrepreneur want to be able to guarantee a certain quality. "The moment someone cannot meet the conditions that you need to be able to do your work, you should therefore refuse an assignment."
In addition, according to Haas, it is important that you properly explain to the customer why you are not taking on the job. "Explain why you charge a certain price," she tips. Then two things can happen. Or the customer drops out and looks for someone else, but it is also possible that he or she will discuss the conditions with you.
"Periods in which there is less work are simply part of the job if you are a freelancer." Jop de Vrieze, freelance journalist
De Haas: "Often a job comes out that you can find." If a client does not work with you, it is not necessary to worry about that. "This means that you were not a match anyway. The customer does not believe in the way you work and the price tag attached to it."
Doing too much can also have disadvantages
De Vrieze is now a seasoned freelancer. Together with his colleagues from Bureau Wibaut, he even wrote a survival guide for freelancers. Today, he refuses about 30 percent of the assignments that are offered to him.
Not only because they pay poorly, but also because they do not like certain jobs. "There was a time when I tried to keep many different clients happy," he explains. "I wrote many different pieces. Also about topics that didn't really suit me."
“I wrote many different pieces. Also on topics that didn't really suit me. "
Ironically, by assuming everything, he started losing clients. "Because I did too many different things, not everything was as good," he explains. Since he is more selective, things are going a lot better. By no longer accepting everything, there was room for longer research into a single subject and to specialize in this.
"By focusing more on one subject, I started to distinguish myself with my journalistic work", de Vrieze explains. "As a result, I could sometimes ask for more money, but above all I had more opportunities to write beautiful pieces. I got a lot of pleasure out of it."
Satisfied customer, more fun assignments
Refusing odd jobs when you die in work is a lot easier than when you are a bit quieter. But according to De Vrieze, it is also important to remain critical during such periods.
"Periods in which there is less work are simply part of the job if you are a freelancer," he says. De Haas is also convinced that it sometimes pays to wait until a job comes along that really suits you. "When you do your work with dedication, this also leads to more satisfied customers. That can lead to more fun assignments."