Beginning freelance designers have a hard time refusing work from clients, simply because they are afraid that they may not get a chance to expand their referral list by refusing to work with a client. Saying no to clients however, is a very important thing to do when freelancing or driving a business. You do not want to hold on to something that is against the values of yourself and your company. Here are a list of reasons why you should refuse certain client work:
They are against your morals.
You never want to work with a client that could potentially make you look bad to other people. Also, if you believe that the client you could be working with is against what you stand for or does not hold an interest for you, then despite the money that would come with the project, you would not be able to execute your best work which could hurt you in the long run. Part of your job is to try and get people interested in your client’s product. If you yourself can’t get excited about the project due to the fact that they do not abide by your standards and values, then how are you going to influence everyone else. Don’t look at this as a loss. Most talented designers refuse to work with clients for this particular reason all the time.
The client has a bad history.
Clients often make the wrong (yet good) mistake of telling designers, “Your work looks amazing! Maybe you can do this project correctly, unlike the other 6 designers I’ve worked with!”. This is a red flag. Why would it take over 6 designers to knock the project out of the park? Unless that particular client has been paying untalented designers peanuts and he’s getting what he’s paying for, I don’t think it would be that hard to solve a particular problem. Chances are, the client is trying to control the project more than the designer is and if that is the case, either talk your client through the “6 designer” problem or say no. Ask the client why they had gone through several designers. If the answer isn’t valid, say no or you’ll end up as #7 and you’ll be shorted time and money.
The client does not seem serious enough.
There are clients who will spend countless days asking questions regarding price negotiations, color choices, ideas, favors, etc. without ever following through with the project. These people are known as “tire kickers” typically they’ll ask you a series of questions so that they’ll know whether or not they should choose you or the next guy for their project. This can go on for days and even weeks and will become nothing but a pest knocking at your door. If you feel that the client does not have alot of confidence in your skills, say no.
Work now, get paid later (maybe).
I don’t know how or why, but designers tend to fall into a traps when it comes to payments. If the client can’t promise you the money upon completion of the project (as stated in your contract if you have one, which you should), say no. Clients will always tell you that they’ll pay you later because they can’t. Period. I can’t remember the last time I was able to pay for a meal when I didn’t have the money then. I can’t find a reason why I should believe a client will pay designers after their next project. Even if they say that they will refer to you and give you more work in the future, no money means jack. Follow your core values and value you work to avoid this.