Among the many misconceptions about running a freelance web design business is the idea that you should sign up for every project that comes your way. Whether you’re working full-time or building websites on the side, it’s easy to think that all opportunities are worthy. And after all, money is money.
But not all projects are of equal value – monetarily or otherwise. Some may be initially lucrative and end up costing you in the long run. Others can be a detriment to your mental well-being.
That being said, there are times when you might need to settle. For example, a situation where you are in desperate need of cash. Still, the overall goal should be to scope out your ideal projects and use them to build your business.
And there’s no shame in saying “no” to a project. That can be a difficult lesson to learn – but very much worth the effort.
If you’re unsure of where to draw the line, we’re here to help. Here are four reasons why you may want to turn down a web design project.
The Client’s Budget Is Too Small
Budget (or a lack thereof) seems like an obvious reason to say “thanks but no thanks” to a project. Even so, it’s not uncommon to try and justify signing on anyway.
Sometimes low budget gigs do have value. It could be a gateway to something bigger or provide an opportunity to learn. But it takes scrutiny to determine how realistic those possibilities are.
Quite often it seems like you put more effort into these projects than you’re being compensated for. You can almost see the profits fading away with each client request.
Unless there is an underlying reason for saying “yes,” you might be better off looking elsewhere.
It’s Outside of Your Niche
The web design industry has become very segmented. There are different budgets, technologies, and client categories to work with. As such, some web designers have narrowed their focus down to a specific niche.
For instance, you may decide to primarily work with non-profits. Or only with clients that use your favorite content management system (CMS). And you might define a perfect budget range within those specialties.
That’s not to say an interesting project couldn’t come along to tempt you. It may check just about every box – save for one or two. And that leads to a potentially difficult decision: should you break free from a self-imposed niche – even just once?
At best, you’ll work on something that is outside of your norm. That can be a refreshing experience and broaden your horizons.
On the other hand, committing to a project that is unlike the others in your portfolio could become a hindrance. It could disrupt your workflow or, if you’re busy enough, keep you from taking on clients that are a better fit.
Your Schedule Is Overflowing with Work
A web designer’s workload often feels like a feast or famine. Either you’re sitting around with nothing to do or up to your ears in code and mockups.
During the busiest of times, another addition to your to-do list may be the last thing you want. While it could be a positive in terms of revenue, there may also be a lot of stress. This can lead to pushing yourself past safe limits and rushing to get things done on time. The final results may not meet the expectation.
Plus, clients tend to want their websites up and running quickly – even when it’s not a fit with your schedule. Existing projects and top clients usually take priority, with anything new getting thrown to the back of your queue.
It’s worth asking yourself if you need the additional work. If the project presents a good opportunity, you may have some options. Explain your situation, and perhaps the client will agree to a later launch date. If not, saying “no” could be the only reasonable choice.
You See Red Flags
The more web design projects you have under your belt, the better you’ll be at spotting potential trouble. And when these red flags come into view, they should help you determine whether to move forward.
They can signal a wide range of issues. It could be anything from a client who doesn’t act professionally to a project with very little chance of success.
As humans, none of us are perfect. Sometimes our senses are off, and we might perceive problems to be worse than they truly are. Still, experience says that trusting your gut is usually the right decision.
If you’re at all uncomfortable with a client or the situation surrounding a project, stop and think. Consider the potential risks of getting on board. From there, it’s about figuring out whether the risks are worth your time.
Say “No” and Move On
Freelance web designers typically rely on projects as a main source of income. Therefore, it’s important to work with clients that are a good fit for your business. The stakes are too high to waste your time and energy going in the wrong direction. And despite our best efforts, not every project will be a match.
Having the ability to honestly assess a project’s fit is invaluable. It will save you time and stress. And it will allow your prospective clients to continue their search.
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to reject the majority of projects that come your way. Rather, the reasons outlined above can serve as a guide. Hopefully, they’ll help you think through the process and empower you to make the right choices.
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