It happened to me.
I wanted to say no to a project badly.
I was running through a list of excuses in my mind, even having slight nightmares about this project. There was just something inside me that kept me from wanting to take part in this project. It was a feeling of dread and foreboding.
It’s the feeling when you know that you and your client are not going to see eye-to-eye in significant measures down the road.
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The problem was, I had already done some work for this client. I had completed an assessment for this client, even though after the first complimentary meeting I already had bad feelings.
That’s where I had gone wrong, and that was my fault.
For some of us, it goes even further than that. We’re deep into a project with a client and we just don’t want to be a part of it anymore.
You can call it “creative differences” or whatever you want, but I’m going to give you a few steps for avoiding having to find a desperate way to cut the cord from a project you no longer want or need.
1. Determine the value of the project.
Is the profit worth the stress? Oftentimes, if we’re dreading a project, it’s because we don’t know when things are going to get to be too much for being compensated too little.
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As creatives, a lot of us often undersell ourselves in the first place – but the first thing we should be asking ourselves before we even consider signing onto a project is “Does this amount truly make sense?”
2. Decide if you and the client are on the same page.
We all know those clients. The type that don’t seem to really understand anything we are saying; or do understand but don’t really want to understand because they already consider themselves the true expert at hand.
My advice: abort mission. These people always end up a lot more trouble than they are worth!
If you simply have to work with them, make sure you’re charging much more than you normally would on a project. This will help you still make the profit you need to on the project despite it not being the most enjoyable.
3. Select pieces for your portfolio.
Your client should be happy with the final outcome, but at the end of the day we still have to do our jobs in a way that we feel is correct.
Best case scenario: we’d like to proudly put the work in our portfolios.
Envision this project going into your portfolio. If you don’t immediately get excited, you may want to reconsider.
4. Listen to how your client talks about other creatives.
This could, of course, mean they have had really bad luck and hired some really incompetent designers or creatives.
But, it could also mean that the problem isn’t with the hires – it’s with the client themselves.
This type of client might just possess every dread rolled into one, and what’s worse, when something won’t work out right and you’ve warned them but they insist you do it anyway, guess who they’re going to blame?
To Sum it Up
So we try to use our best judgments, or maybe sometimes we don’t.
Maybe something about the project really captivated us anyway so we took it.
Or maybe we just really needed the cash.
How do you know?
Well, there’s no easy answer to that question.
One good tactic if you feel you do need to say no is to say that your schedule is becoming more and more packed (which could and should be true if you’re networking for better projects) and that you’re unsure if you’re able to provide the same high-quality standard of services.
If they insist that you stay on, you could even boldly ask for more compensation, if there’s any fiscal amount that will match the stress of the project.
Otherwise? You know what to do for next time.
Scrutinize every single thing about that client and project.
You’re hiring the client as much as they are hiring you.
Oh, and make sure you have a great contract with a fantastic exit clause if you seem to get stuck in these situations a lot.
Have you ever had to say no to a client? Tells us your experience in the comments.
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