I have been wanting to write a blog post on this topic for awhile. But I’ve deleted every draft that I’ve started until this one. It just seemed that no matter what I would write, it would come off as being too self-pitying and all “woe is me that I am soooooooo busy and important I have to turn down work all the time.” That’s just not the truth. Like most freelancers, I live on the roller coaster of being too busy during certain time frames and then as soon as I complete a few projects I’m scrambling for more work.
The truth is, if a freelancer works a full 40-hour week, it’s common knowledge that he or she can only perform about 20 hours of billable work. The other 20 hours are spent on business-building activities such as networking (coffee meetings and professional organizations), business development (cold calling), SEO enhancement/tweaking (one of my primary methods for getting clients), marketing (blogging and social media updates), education (a very important element), financials (book balancing and invoicing), and other time-consuming activities like putting together proposals, responding to emails and following up with my network.
So, back to my point. Turning down work sucks. I absolutely hate it. I’ve worked so hard that when a prospective client does reach out to me I immediately want to do everything I can to make that person happy (that means quoting a reasonable rate and starting work immediately). And turning down work because I currently have too many projects on my plate does not make anyone jump for joy.
So what is my point exactly? That I’ve had to turn down more work than I like lately due to the busy fall season and the upcoming pre-holiday rush. Unfortunately, my measly little 20 hours of true (billable) client work doesn’t always cut it.
So now that I’ve scared off all prospective clients forever from ever contacting me (I hope not!), please reach out and let me know – what do you do when you’re in this situation? I’d love to hear back.