Lately, I've been coming across quite a few articles from freelancers based on the word 'no', which got me thinking. The fear of rejecting a potential client when running a business can be a scary thing when your income depends on it. But - is doing a project that makes you despise waking up in the morning even worth it?
A few months ago, I was one of those people that accepted anything and everything that came my way, because 1. I was afraid of never making it on my own if I didn't accept all inquiries and 2. I thought I would be burning my bridges. The downfall to my process then is that I felt like I was back in my contracted job doing work that I didn't love. I decided to go freelance for a reason, so that I wouldn't be stuck in that creative rut. When there is no passion, there is no satisfaction. So is it worth it?
Don't get me wrong, making ends meet is very important, but if you're fortunate enough to say 'no, thank you' when it doesn't feel right - do it. You will be better for it. You will be defining your niche sooner, even if it comes at a lesser price. I'm not making this statement because I'm a 100% successful. I still have a long road ahead for my business to hit that sweet spot, but I have only just discovered the importance of sculpting my design niche even if it sacrifices my income. To this day I find this task very difficult, but I'm determined to go with my gut.
Whilst waiting for my dream clients, I started building a portfolio with self-initiated projects that reflect the type of work I want to do. It seemed daunting at fist; the idea of not getting paid for doing the extra work made me nervous, but these projects have only sparked enthusiasm and reminded me of why I became a designer in the first place. These types of projects left me feeling satisfied and proud to have such a great piece to show to potential clients - it's always worth it. There's a quote that my dad would say to me that I always go back to, "sometimes to move forward you have to take a few steps backwards". Wise man. So don't be afraid to say 'no, thank you', you're doing that potential client and yourself a favor. Reject gracefully - don't leave your manners at the door, you never know who their connections might be!