Saying no is not always easy, but it’s important to value your time when deciding what to take on. Try to determine whether you specialise in the work that has been requested by the client. If it is completely out of your comfort zone, do you still want to go ahead with the brief? If you’re eager to expand your horizons, make sure you’ve got ample time and availability, as this may require more of your efforts.
Sleep on it! You don’t need to give answers immediately. Ask for a day to think about your decision before providing a definitive answer. Consider all of your ongoing commitments and ensure that you still have some personal time left over.
When accepting (or turning down) new projects, ask yourself if it is a commitment that you are willing to make. Proceed with conscious decisions that consider your wellbeing. If your struggle is simply finding the right way to say no, take a deep breath and use this automatic response generator.
Insights from freelance illustrator Belle Mellor
Is the ability to say no to jobs that don’t adhere to your usual way of working an important part of freelancing?
BM: In general, I’d say yes (to saying no)! I think a commission tends to go better when a client has specifically come to you because they are enthusiastic about what you do and think the approach will work well for their purposes. Having said that, I have very occasionally taken on work that has required a very different approach, and it can be an interesting learning experience that takes you out of certain comfort zones.