How should Freelance Designers Say No to Client

Freelancing is one thing that asks for immense dedication, determination, time management and lastly self control because here you are your own boss, there is no one to dictate things and ask you to do the work the right way. You are the one who has to deal with the clients directly. How to handle the clients is your take. Sometimes you get to meet really irritating clients. We have given a list of tips to get new clients for your business and handle irritating clients in our articles previously. Here, we are with a new article that falls under the same category but with the different subject.

In the beginning period of your freelancing career you might not know smart ways to handle the clients and won’t be able to differentiate between the right and unreasonable demands coming from the client’s end. It is of key importance to understand which demand needs to be fulfilled and which one doesn’t.The one who is not able to make the difference between reasonable and unreasonable demands and which project to turn down then you got to learn smart client handling and polite ways to say No to something that is not feasible.

See, there are good clients, there are bad clients. We anticipate that our article in which we gave tips and tricks to handle bad/irritating clients was of great help for you all. Recognizing this difference and handling this the right way doesn’t imply that your job is done. You should know when to say no and how to say no.  You can’t turn down every demand of the client while undertaking any project or in between. You need to understand what your client is expecting be it at the initial stage or at the time when s(he) is asking for some changes to be made. If you think that its feasible say yes else don’t entertain and simply say no. Sometimes, even though the clients are confused as to what exactly they need the design to be like they demand to revise the design. Their confusion might become bothersome at times. Now the question arises when one should say no and how you should turn down the project ?

This article of mine is somewhat related to the problem which each one of us faces at one point or the other. I too have gone through the situation where I have regretted saying yes to a thing which deep inside my heart I knew was almost impossible to be done. I have sometimes agreed to take on freelance projects that I felt were not the right thing I did. Saying no has always been harder for me so, I won’t be wrong in saying that this article comprises of tips and tricks I have learnt over the years rather I would say I am still learning to follow the same.

I have focused mainly on designers, however these are for general audience too as each one of you out there will surely be able to relate to them. Read out the times when you should say No to the client and how!


How should Freelance Designers Say No to Client

1. When the project is not creative enough

Today, each one of us is facing time crunch. Each one of us in the initial stages have made this mistake of taking the projects no matter how less creative they have been. Obviously, every mistake gives a lesson which we learn with time. Taking the projects that don’t let you show your creative skills to the best is not a wise idea especially if you are into the creative field since long time.

Definitely a good amount is always appealing but taking each and every project that comes your way is not a good thing to do. If you genuinely wish to do something that speaks out for your creative skills then be more selective in choosing the projects to be undertaken. It is a wise idea to turn down the project that doesn’t not excite you enough or help you grow as a designer.


2. When the clients is difficult to handle

If you are handling the clients for many years now, you know what exactly I am talking about. If while briefing you get to know that the client is little too nagging and will prove to be difficult to handle in the long run then it is advisable to say No.

Sometimes you don’t come to know about the client at the very first meeting so it is suggested to organise one or two meets to clearly understand the client as the job you may do depends a lot on client’s personality. If in any case you find the client to be rude, arrogant, fussy, nagging or bit too demanding then its time to say no.


3. When its not a feasible job

Everyone had his/her limitations. Some projects sound really exciting but then you can’t be the master of all. Its definitely good to learn new things and expand your horizon but then you must always remember, your reputation is at stake. You can’t just randomly take any project just for the heck of it. If its not feasible for you don’t take it!

4. When more and more is being expected

Once you have done the briefing part and you know what needs to be done and how don’t entertain more calls. I am not strictly saying don’t answer the call of the clients but then if you come to know that the client is trying to be smart by asking you to add more and more to your plate then its surely thing not to be entertained and said no to instead.

5. When it asked to alter the initial contract

Now when both you as a service provider and client have settled down initially and signed a contract for the project, what should you do next. The next thing you do is the planning and execution. Right? If at this point or the other the clients calls you up and asks you to make changes in the contract or add few more clauses to the contract then you know what’s to be done.

Obviously, you should first hear what the client has to say. If the changes are feasible then go for it but if they are not then drop it down and say no. You can definitely wait for some other worthy project than getting bugged up at the later stage which you expect if client starts nagging at initial stages.


6. When client says no to advance

When a client says no to the advance you certainly have the right to say no. Remember the article I came up with few months back- How to know that your Design Clients Won’t Pay. It is an indicator that the client won’t be paying you for the  efforts you put in. It is foolish not to ask for the advance before you begin the project. Advance will any day help cover the cost you incur. Always ask for the advance payment as it will help you look more professional and serious in your approach and you will get to know the client’s intentions.

If the client gives miscellaneous reasons for not paying the advance then you should give him/her the benefit of doubt and tell that you can politely say that you will wait and will begin the project as soon as advance payment is done.

7. When your ethics are being compromised

It is not always that you will get the work according to what you like or believe; at one point or the other you might get a kind of work that will go against what you believe. Every freelance designers know where to draw the line.

If you think you are being offered a work that will ask you to go against your ethics, simply say no to it because each one of us know that if we have the negative feelings about a particular thing it tends to subconsciously affect our work so the best way out is to turn down the project.


To conclude, be honest with the client. You don’t have to be rude in your approach, you should always try to say no for a particular thing in a polite manner and avoid any kind of argument. Don’t underestimate the power of this small word ‘No’, add it to your vocabulary if it’s not already there. Say no to requests that are not feasible. The only tip is to be firm in your approach and handle the clients smartly.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

13 − ten =