Sometimes, my clients come to me with a rush project. I normally ask for at least two weeks’ notice for any work, but if they’re a good client, I’ll usually take on the project if I can. (I do charge a rush fee, which they’re happy to pay since they already know my work.)
But what about clients who do this all the time? Ones who don’t plan ahead and need something big last week? While you might think it’s a win for both of you if you can pull it off, always saying “yes” is actually hurting your business.
You produce average quality work at a high-quality price
When your client gets the work and the invoice for it, all they see is how they’re paying top dollar for average work.
I know what you’re thinking, you try to produce high quality all the time. But let’s face it… When you’re working on an impossible deadline for a client, your work suffers. You’re rushing to get the project finished, and you just don’t have the time to do all the revisions and edits you typically do.
Add in the fact that you might be working during your “off” periods to get this done (the time of day when you produce your best work), and it means your rush client is getting average work. Sure, it helps them out of a jam because they have something by their impossible deadline, but then they see your invoice.
They don’t see that you crammed several weeks’ worth of work into your deliverable. They just see the average-ness of it and that it seemingly cost them a lot of money. The person you’re working with understands what you just pulled off, but if they have to forward the invoice to their boss for approval, it’s a problem for you. The decision-maker only sees the final cost of the work, and if your contact says it’s just “okay,” this could quickly become a past client for you.
It reflects poorly on you
Your client understands the lengths you went to pull off the project, but because it’s just average work, their perception of you could change. You’re no longer the top-shelf copywriting professional you know you are; instead, you’re the always-available mediocre writer suitable for minor jobs. They may not think of you for their next complex and valuable project; now there’s a chance they’ll hire someone else.
Your client thinks you’re always available
They come to expect your total availability because you always say “yes.” No matter your schedule, they know you’ll always work on their project. You become an off-site employee rather than a professional freelance B2B copywriter.
At this stage of the relationship, you might start ignoring their calls to avoid having to say “no” finally… or continuing to say “yes” when you don’t want to. Then, either you’ll fire them because you don’t want to deal with them anymore or they’ll fire you because they can’t “depend” on you anymore.
Instead, stand your ground
While you might enjoy the mountain of cash that rolls in after an insane rush project, you simply can’t sustain that kind of relationship. It turns out badly for both you and your clients.
Instead of always saying “yes” to your clients, it’s time to learn to say “no” to their super-rush project. When you see that a rush project request is turning into a regular thing with your client, it’s time to take a deep breath and just say “no.” It’ll be hard, especially if it’s the first time you do that (or your bank account is looking a little sad), but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
You won’t be able to run your business if you move from rush project to rush project. There will never be any time to breathe or do any of the admin tasks your business needs.
What’s funny is that many times, that rush project is still there the next week or month, and you’ll get to work on it at your normal pace, on your time. No stress or late nights.
An occasional rush project is one thing and something you can handle if your clients respect your time and work process the rest of the time. But working like that all the time? It’s no way for a freelance writer to work (or live).