When I grew up, one of the things that my dad taught me was never to say “I can’t”. That might be a good advise. However, in my freelance life, I realise there are certain things I have to say “I can’t” to.
In my… (two? three?)… years of freelancing, I have done quite a lot of work for a lot of clients. The designs that I display in my portfolio are probably only quarter of what I have done in real life. I have done a few designs that I am not proud of. So those designs are resting peacefully and eternally in my “past clients” folder and I’m reluctant to look at them again.
See, the thing with having an “I can” attitude is somewhere along the way, I realise that I actually can’t. I know it’s really tempting, especially if you just started and in need of a lot of jobs, to say yes to all clients. However, after so many painful experiences, I finally realise it is not worth it.
Creating a design (or any other job) that doesn’t even interest you is going to be a painful journey. Let’s say I am working for 5 different clients at the same time, and 1 of them is something that I’m not really into. That 1 job will always be something that is weighing all the other 4 jobs down. Every time I get all excited about doing all the other 4 jobs, I remember about that 1 job and it feels like a heavy burden on my back.
At the end of the day, it’s a lose-lose situation for both you and your client. You will never give a hundred percent to any job that you are reluctant to do.
I know how difficult it is to turn down a client, especially when they stare at you with hopeful look and say “I have always loved your designs for this and that cafe. I think you will do a great job in designing my luxurious chandelier-themed hotel”. Although that is very kind of him/her to say that, but he or she is not a designer. Most people (who are not designers) don’t know that there are a lot of types of designers. I have been asked so many times if I could also do interior design *roll eyes*. But then again, it is not their fault. Before marrying my husband, I didn’t even know that not all IT people can professionally design websites.
Those clients will really appreciate it if you’re being honest and let them know from the beginning that your design is not suitable for their event/business/product. And that should not reflect badly on you as a designer. Every designer has their own style. I might not be able to create elegant and luxury chandelier-themed wedding invitations, but I’m great at creating cute and fun children party invites!
After all, you don’t ask Martha Stewart to host a heavy metal concert after party!