3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Write for a Client


This is a guest post by freelance blogger Joy Collado.

Why should we hire you?

That’s one question every client asks.

They may not ask you this directly, but you can be sure that they’re thinking it.

ALL clients have standards and expectations. They have a list of traits and qualifications for the writers they hire. And that’s perfectly understandable.

That said, I think some writers forget that clients shouldn’t be the only ones setting the standards.

This is our business, too. And in the same way that clients turn down writers looking for work, writers should also set their criteria and learn to turn down work when the client doesn’t meet their standards.

Below are 3 compelling reasons why you shouldn’t write for a client:


1.    You don’t share the same interests

Sure, with some research, you can write a good article or blog post about a topic you don’t know about —but do you really want to?

It’s a lot easier to write about topics that interests you. You’ll work more efficiently this way because you can produce an article in less time than you would on a topic you don’t like. That’s why most writing experts would advise you to develop a niche–one that you know a lot about and that you enjoy writing.

If you can’t find your niche yet, look into your hobbies and interests. Do you love baking? Photography? Perhaps business and finance? What about technology? Whatever the case may be, start with topics that actually interest you. This way, writing the article or blog post won’t be a drag.


2.    You don’t believe in what they represent

If you push yourself to write about a subject you don’t believe in, it will show in your work. You’ll feel unrealistic and pretentious while writing. And that’s one thing every writer should avoid. Writing should be an extension of yourself. We write to make a living, but it doesn’t mean to say you’re going to write something that contradicts your own values.

Let’s say you’re someone who loves wild animals. Can you imagine yourself writing an article promoting a handbag made of wild crocodile skin?

You can write the article for sure, but that will be working against your natural muse.


3.   You’re not happy with their offer

Okay, so you finally found a writing gig that interests you, and it’s a topic you connect with—great!

You’re all set.

Or, are you?

What if the pay isn’t fair?

Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. If a client can’t afford you, look elsewhere and find a company that can. Trust me, they’re out there.

On a side note, if you’re applying for a gig and the job post didn’t mention the pay rate, do a little research about the company you’re applying for. You can find their estimated income on websites like Manta and Hoovers. Sophie’s advice on her Client Hunting Masterclass is to pitch clients who have an annual income of over 1 million. This way, you can stay away from clients who don’t have the budget to afford your services.


Bottom Line

Clients have high standards in hiring a freelance writer. And as freelance writers, we should also have high standards in choosing them. If they can be picky, we should, too!

Have you turned down a client because of one of the reasons above? What are other good reasons to turn down paying clients? Share in the comments below.


Author Bio: Joy Collado is a freelance blogger. When she’s not blogging for clients, she’s working on her passion project The Joys of a Digital Nomad where she inspires online entrepreneurs to make a difference through their work.


In other news…

The fabulous Sophie Lizard at Be a Freelance Blogger is running an awesome promo for her Client Hunting Masterclass (in which I’m also a guest instructor.)

Right now, you’ve got an opportunity to take advantage of the lowest tuition fees since the launch of this training program. But Sophie’s tipped me off that you only have until May 8th to sign up — if you miss that cutoff date, the Masterclass tuition investment will be higher the next time around, so don’t wait too long! Check it out here: http://beafreelanceblogger.com/clienthunting



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Francesca Nicasio

I'm a freelance writer specializing in blog posts, web content, and press releases for Internet companies. I also love helping aspiring freelance writers build their portfolio and find clients. Download my free ebook 25 Types of Writing Gigs that Pay Well (and How to Find Them) here to get started.

  • Great article, joy! I recently turned down an offer because it seemed too spammy, and I didn’t want to promote that type of writing.

    • Thank you Alicia! Good for you. And yes, always a big No to spammy projects.

  • lynn silva

    Hi Joy! : ) Yes, it’s such an agonizing assignment when you don’t hold a strong passion for the topic. I learned the hard way. I did 3 assignments related to a topic that I just don’t care for. I had experience in it. I just didn’t have that passion. 3 was enough and I didn’t renew any assignments with them. I was worried about replacing the income, but it all worked out in the end.

    As freelance writers, we all have a right to set and follow and our own standards. Your points are clear and concise and set up a framework in order to do so. Thanks so much! You’re awesome! : )

    • Thank you so much Lynn!

      It feels empowering when you can turn
      down a client doesn’t it? 🙂 I salute you for having the courage not to
      renew even if you were worried about the income. And I’m glad it all
      worked out. 🙂

    • Adam Bailey

      Well said Lynn, I couldn’t agree more! Everything is subjective, but it’s important to have that framework you mentioned. Oh, and yeah, Joy is awesome. 🙂

  • Kelly Boyer Sagert

    For sure, #2 is a deal breaker for me and so is #3. Sometimes, I’ve written about topics that I thought wouldn’t interest me but, ultimately, they did. Great post!

    • Thank you Kelly!

      I agree, sometimes number 1 could be “negotiable.” 🙂 What we think could be boring at first can turn out to be fun!

  • Valerie

    I love the statement you made concerning writers having high standards when choosing clients. Oftentimes, writers just starting out are happy just to see their names published and will settle for anything they can take. But in approaching their writing in this way, they do themselves a great disservice. Kudos on standing up and earning what you truly deserve!

    • Thank you Valerie! It’s not easy to turn down clients, but I found that the more you raise your standards, the more you attract great ones. 🙂

  • Christina Strynatka

    Maybe it’s because I mostly ghost-write, but the only reason here I agree with is #3. I can agree with #2 if it’s something that promotes illegality, like child porn, but writing is a job. And with any job, there are always going to be things I don’t like or don’t want to do, but accept that it just comes as part of the package deal.

    But I really disagree with #1. Unless it’s complete out of my skill set, like explaining complex algebra equations, I take it on and go over time allotments with the client. But I also budget in time for research, and both of us are happy that I’m taking the time to get the most current information so it can be an awesome article.

    It’s really only low pay that’ll cause me to turn down a gig.

    • Great points Christina! I agree, writing is a job and there are always things that we don’t like about it. It’s fine if you can write about a topic that is not exactly your personal favorite, but when you factor in the efforts you put into writing, it’s more efficient if you’re going to write about something you’re excited about. But you made a good point about going over time allotments with the client. Bottom line is, at the end of the day, you and the client should both be happy. 🙂

  • Doug McNamee

    My biggest turnoff is not so much subject matter because that is the fun of being a freelance writer. I can learn about topics and write about them in a persuasive way. The real turnoffs are very low pay and people who ask for test articles. I totally despise this practice. If you send a potential client a writing sample, that should be the end of it. I’ve been scammed a million times over this way by not getting paid or even hearing back from the client. So the client (or scammer) has just got a butt-load of content out of me for free. I also recently applied for a technology blogger, and this time the client cared more about my connections on other technology sites versus whether I could even write.

    • Christina Strynatka

      I totally agree with you: low pay and requests for free articles are the quickest ways to get a snarky response out of me.

      But may I ask…how have you been scammed over millions of times? I think it was after the second or third “writing test” I obliged with that I twigged on, and stopped. What were people saying to you that was so persuasive, and where should I not go to avoid them?

    • Sometimes we tend to be too accommodating with clients’ requests. That’s why it helps to raise some boundaries or standards. I’ll be glad to know you’ve stopped from sending free samples. 🙂

    • Yeah, they want to take advantage of all the work you have done building up relationships with those tech sites instead of doing the hard work it would take to build their own relationships.

  • I’m kicking myself now for accepting a job that pays too little. I was feeling desperate because the bills are piling up and I agreed to a rate that is way too low just to get some money coming in. When I think about the number of hours this job is going to take for the amount of money, it makes me feel sick. I probably should have turned it down.

    • I feel you, I tried going on that road before for the same reason. Perhaps you can try negotiate? When I was in the same situation, negotiating wasn’t an option because my previous client can’t afford my desired rates. What I did was, I did my best to finish the project and politely told him I could no longer take another project.

  • naeldred

    Great post Joy! It’s all too easy to forget we’re free agents. And remember to trust your gut. If a client feels rotten, she probably is. Thanks for the million dollar threshold reminder.

    • Thank you! I totally agree, we’re free agents. We can choose who to work with and we have the freedom to go after the rates that we’re totally satisfied.

  • Junie

    I love this post. Sometimes we forget our worth and settle for less than what we deserve. I’ve turned down a writing gig before. I was a new freelance writer and I think my potential client thought I would jump at the chance to earn some money.

    He wanted me to do some ghostwriting for him. First I had to research, then type. But he took it one step further. He kept calling me late at nights and stayed on the phone for ages. He ate up lots of my time (unpaid) and I got fed up with it. He also offered to pay me peanuts. So, I told him that if I was working for an employer, they would pay me for the hours I put in. Just because I was a freelance writer didn’t mean I was prepared to settle for money that worked out at pennies per hour.

    He left me alone after that. I wanted to help him but I knew he was taking advantage.

    Thanks for sharing this post. Like I said before, we shouldn’t settle for less than we deserve. 🙂

    • That is so true! Even if we want to help our clients, even if we love the project but the payment and terms can’t give us justice, it’s not worth it. We deserve to earn what we deserve just like other freelancers in other fields do. Thank you for sharing your story Junie!

    • Good for you for sticking up for yourself even when you were a new freelance writer, Junie! Some writers (myself included) aren’t as firm at the beginning.

  • Laura Brennan

    I have turned down work, but for a reason not listed here: it was a rewrite on a film, and the producers wanted the wrong thing rewritten. They wanted to hire me to punch up the dialogue, but when I read the script, I realized the problem it felt “off” to them wasn’t the dialogue, but that the story had no second act.
    My golden rule is that I will not set myself up to fail. The dialogue from Casablanca could not have saved that script – and they weren’t willing to look at reworking the middle to make the story make sense. They never did make the movie, and while the money would have been nice, it would have been a miserable experience. I wouldn’t have made them happy or made the film any better under their terms.

    • It’s sometimes sad to let go of a project. but if you’re not going to be happy about it it’s better to turn it down. Thank you sharing your experience Laura!

    • That’s a really interesting story, Laura. Thanks for sharing!

      You make a great point. if a project is flawed to begin with, no amount of good writing can save it.

  • Adam Bailey

    Great post Joy, I think these are all great points, but I especially like #3. I learned this lesson the hard way, and it took many, many years of being taken advantage of to realize that I was part of the equation — that my best interest was just as important as my clients. It was another industry altogether, but the same predators were circling the boat.

    Great job, I love your confidence as a writer as well as your ability to share your thoughts and opinions in a compelling way. Good stuff! :^ )

    • It’s sad when we have to learn the hard way. I know because I did. 🙂 But the good thing about it is that we have stories to tell so others won’t get into the same mistakes, especially when it comes to getting paid what we deserve.

      Thank you for the kind words Adam!

    • “I was part of the equation ” –I know how this feels. Once upon a time I was sulking over a low paying gig, when I realized that I don’t have anyone else to blame but myself for letting the client treat me that way. It was a hard lesson, but it paved the way for better gigs. 🙂

  • Thank you, Joy for contributing such an awesome post! Hope to have you back. 🙂

    • Thank you Francesca for having me. It’s an awesome experience to be here at Be a Freelance Writer. 🙂

  • Williesha Morris

    I have “turned down” a returning client by sending them my updated fees when they e-mailed me. Still haven’t heard back from that client. 🙂

  • Late to the game on this one….but just want to reiterate Joy’s point about fair pay.

    There definitely are companies out there who understand what our services are worth and that we are self-employed (meaning we pay all the taxes, insurance, etc etc).

    Although, it still surprises me when I quote someone and they jump on it quickly. It actually makes me think, “Dang it. Should have went with my gut and quoted 10% higher.” We tend to sell ourselves short it seems. Myself included.

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