Hi Jen, Do you have any advice for gracefully refusing a client? Either because what they want isn’t what you do (and you don’t want to do it), or because the client is a bit of an asshole who you just want to get rid of.
Absolutely. Try one of these handy email scripts:
Thanks for thinking of me! I’m afraid this isn’t quite in my wheelhouse — I specialize in [other thing]. But I can point you to [my friend], who does specialize in [what you want]. I’m cc’ing her now — I hope you two can work it out!
Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m actually not the best person for this particular job. I think you need more of a [job title]. Let me know if you’d like some recommendations!
Thanks for thinking of me! I’m open to discussing this project, but I want to let you know upfront that I’ve raised my rates. My new rate is [double the old rate]. If you’re still interested in proceeding, let me know some possible meeting times and let’s talk in person.
Remember, if you’re turning down work, you have the upper hand. You don’t need an excuse.
Go ahead and refer the client to a friend if it’ll actually help the friend. But if the client is so awful that you wouldn’t wish him on anyone you know, then don’t. You can say, “I can’t think of anyone specifically who does that, but what you’re looking for is probably a PHP developer — hope that helps.”
I remember that I had once worked with a photographer on a trade-for-prints basis, and then I pitched him on another collaboration. Apparently he was only interested in lingerie photos, because he just replied, “Not for me, thanks.” FOUR WORDS got the job done.
So, for the sake of all women everywhere, please do not apologize or feel guilty or bad for being so awesome you can turn down bad (or superfluous) clients.