After my first webinar recording, I started thinking more about freelancer-client relationship and those cases when we should say 'no'. And I came to the conclusion that sometimes we have to say 'no' temporarily, to a project, but sometimes we have to refuse to cooperate with a client forever. I came up with 3 main reasons for each of those cases. So, when do we have to say 'no' to a particular project?
1. Bad deadline. It can be a rush job that you just can't finish on time, but sometimes even if the proposed deadline is good there may be some family or personal issues that may keep you from finishing the project on time. After you have evaluated the approximate time your project may take and realized that you can't fit into the deadline, you either negotiate a better deadline with your client, or you say "no" to this particular project and, ideally, recommend a colleague who can fit the project into his or her schedule.
2. Bad price. I know some translators who immediately say 'no' to clients after they read their first message because the offered price is lower than they normally charge. I'd still suggest negotiating the price if it's the only reason for you not to take this project. Saying 'no' once may lead to some better paid projects in the future from the same client if you behave professionally and they see that you are worth the money you ask. I've had that happen to me once and I have been quite happy with my relationship with this particular client since then.
3. Wrong specialty field. Again, some people say that you just need to be a clever person, a good linguist and you must have good research skills. Maybe after I have worked in translation for 30+ years I'll change my opinion (though I strongly doubt that), but at the moment I realize that I can't do the same perfect job with a highly technical or medical or legal text as some of my colleagues who have education in these fields.
So these were the three main reasons for refusing a project. But what are the main reasons for saying 'no' to a client?
1. Payment policy. If the payment terms of a particular client are absolutely unacceptable (too long to wait for payment, very uncomfortable payment terms, the price is too low and negotiating it doesn't help etc.) then the cooperation just makes no sense.
2. No respect. If a client is plain rude, or if he/she treats you with disrespect then you will do yourself a big favour by saying good-bye to them. Even if they pay you well (although this is rarely the case with such people). After all, your emotional and physical wellbeing are more important than any money.
3. Communication problems. Sometimes a client may offer you an interesting project with good payment, but whenever you ask them a question they just ignore you. Sometimes those things are just minor disadvantages in your business relationship, but in some cases they may directly influence the result. If the client repeatedly ignores your messages, they are not as interested in your work as they say. Clients who are interested in the outcome of the project are usually ready to answer your questions and explain anything that's unclear to you.
Dear translators, what can make you refuse a project or say good-bye to a client?
Original post is in my blog here: http://home.yourprofessionaltranslator.com/2012/04/saying-no-to-project-and-to-client.html You can read some interesting comments there, too.