Whether you have built a career on accepting gigs, or happen to be a freelancer for various gigs occasionally, rejecting a new gig doesn’t usually feel rewarding.

Right? But why does rejecting a gig leave you feeling like you’ve made a mistake or gave up on an opportunity? Why do you not feel inclined to say no?

As you take on gig after gig and become more professionally credible, more opportunities are given to you. Does that mean you should reject more jobs because you’re receiving more opportunities? It might. But you should know which to accept, and which to say no to.  

How do you choose though? When can you or should you turn down a gig?

Time Pressure

If you live the gig life, then you probably have a strategically planned schedule. On Monday’s you work for client X. Tuesday’s are for client Y, and so on. These are time commitments with strict deadlines. Sometimes a new gig truly just doesn’t fit; sometimes taking on a new task, in the midst of several other very important tasks, just doesn’t make sense. Clients do and should care about the quality of your work. Do NOT overbook and over-plan. This leads to overpromising and under delivering. Save your time—it’s valuable.

Tough Clients

Do you know the client? If not, have you heard about the client? Good things, you hope. The best suggestion to determine your acceptance or rejection of this client is to do your own research. Read up. Check out his or her LinkedIn page, read about he or she in articles or online reviews (if applicable), and most importantly, get a good dose of the way he or she communicates and works. IS he timely? Is she professional? Is he engaged and well informed? Exchange a few emails or phone calls, take note of his or he’s personality, and then, only then, can you determine and predict whether or not he or she will be a tough client.

Lack of Knowledge

This opportunity could be in an entirely new industry… one in which you have never taken on a project in. Double check the job’s expectations; are you capable of all tasks? If you are left feeling uncomfortable, unsuited, or ill prepared for the job at hand, then you probably shouldn’t take the opportunity. Some brave souls may look at this kind of situation, and think, “I’ll learn as I go.” But the ol’ fake it til’ you make it will not guarantee you the positive results or the quality of the work you wish you would have accomplished. 

Bad Reputation

You’ve heard through the grapevine that this particular company or gig does not handle outsourcing well. Maybe you’ve done some research and uncovered more than a few bad reviews. Know what you are getting involved in and with: the people, the project, the time, the expectations, etc. Be sure you are making your own judgments however, based on your own findings—opinions are different from facts. 

The Pay Isn’t Worth The Effort

In your mind and your business plan, you have already determined your prices, and offerings or services. Don’t settle for less than what you feel the project or job is worth. Clients will try to compromise with you, you know, haggle the price down a bit. But this is where the quality of your work and the credibility you have built around yourself in the industry helps you. If you feel as though you can provide better results than what the price tag quotes you for, then it may be time to pass up a gig.

Your Instincts Are Saying No

And that’s okay. This is a great opportunity to sit back and realize why you don’t feel right about the job. Is it the company? A specific employee? The job itself? Whatever the reason for your uneasiness is, trust your gut. Sometimes the butterflies in your stomach can predict more than you think. Too many gigs are floating around in the industry, making it to be perfectly okay to say no.

So remember, when a new opportunity, or gig, presents itself, you CAN say no.


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