By: Alison R Bowyer    Freelance Copywriter    November 2016

I recently wrote a blog about my first year in business. One of my tips was to trust your instincts and turn work down if it doesn’t feel right for you – even if you don’t know where the next job is coming from!

Last week, I had to put that piece of advice into practice.

It pains me to turn work down.  Frankly, who do I think I am?  A client offers me an opportunity and I should snap it up there and then. 

But there are times when it’s okay to turn work down.  The more obvious reasons are well-documented. For example:

  • If the client is only interested in the cheapest deal
  • You don’t ‘click’ with the client from the outset – or worse still, they criticise other professionals
  • You’re not comfortable with the subject matter (if it’s outside your own moral boundaries, forget about it)
  • The client has no idea what they want – avoid, avoid, avoid

I’ve certainly made the mistake of being pressured into work before that has turned into lots of hassle for not much in the way of returns, so my radar is up at all times.

But none of these applied to the situation I found myself in last week.

On this occasion, the brief was a little outside my usual comfort zone and the deadline was tight.Read any articles by the great copywriters who generously share their knowledge and the advice they will give is to say a big, fat “yes” to something new.

I agree with this, up to a point. As a copywriter, you should be versatile and able to grow alongside your business. But what if you are already over-committed?  What if the client is a great brand and you don’t want to fluff it? What if the deadline is scarily tight, and if one things goes wrong, everything could come tumbling down like a stack of cards?


This was the situation I found myself in. I will only take on a project if I am confident I can deliver on time. I want happy clients who will come back again and recommend me. So the decision to turn down the job was easy.

The tricky part was how?  How could I turn down such a great opportunity without causing offence?  And retain a good relationship with the client for the future?

So, I was honest.  I took a deep breath, called the client and explained the situation. 

I told them I would love to take them up on the offer.  But it was a new area for me, I was genuinely too busy to meet the deadline and I only wanted to work with them if I had the time to do the additional research I would need to do to ensure I did a great job.

There was a silence on the end of the line; a few seconds, but it felt like a lifetime.  And how did the client respond?  Beautifully.  They thanked me for my honesty; we had a lovely chat and parted on good terms with the agreement that maybe we could work together in the future.

What a great response. I was so impressed that I immediately looked round for someone else who may be able to help them. Why not? There’s plenty of work out there, it’s good to share! And I made a another great contact in the process.

I expected to spend some time this week reflecting on my decision (and wondering if I had made a mistake!)

As it turned out, a routine visit to the opticians on Friday resulted in a trip to eye casualty this weekend and I am now nursing a poorly eye.  It’s not serious, but had I taken that project on, I would have struggled.

I’m glad I listened to my instincts.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been in a similar situation.  Do you struggle to turn down work?  Or, like me, have you learnt the hard way that sometimes it’s necessary to say, “Thanks, but no thanks”?

Have a great week.


Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes offering a range of services, including blogging for small businesses.  For further information visit











Published by MK WORD STUDIO

Freelance Copywriter

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: