The following post is an excerpt from my new e-Book series, How to Become an e-Learning Freelancer. The three volumes in the series are designed to be easy-to-use, practical guides to getting your freelance e-Learning career off the ground. Learn more here!
When I first started freelancing, I was grateful for any job I could find that paid me to put my e-Learning talents to work. Back then, my motto was “Any client is a good client!” After all, each project I took on gave me more fodder for my e-Learning portfolio, and getting paid at all felt great!
At the same time, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was afraid of what the consequences would be if I started turning down work. What if I rejected offers and never found new ones? Didn’t I owe it to my career to be open to any and all new work opportunities? Because my livelihood depended on me saying “yes” to new work, I frequently reminded myself that beggars can’t be choosers.
While the “any client is a good client” mindset may sound like a rational way to think, the truth is that it reflects a lack of confidence, and for me, it held me back from growing as a professional, and kept me from reaching my own financial goals. In my early days, I took on several clients I shouldn’t have: They paid well below my standard rate, monopolized my time, and had me creating content that wasn’t aligned with the kind of work I enjoyed doing. Eventually, I realized that I needed to break up with them and spend more time on finding clients that were a better fit—but it was a hard lesson to learn, because I was resistant to saying “no” to a paying client on principle.
In hindsight, I wish I had broken up with them sooner—I could have become more selective much earlier in my freelance career! So in this week’s post, I’d like to talk about identifying and avoiding the wrong clients. (Next week, we’ll talk about finding and keeping “good” clients and making sure that you’re growing your business in a way that fosters the business relationships and types of work that will make you happiest over the long term.)
Money is Money, Right? (Spoiler Alert: Not Always.)
For me, the first step toward evolving beyond “money is money” thinking was understanding the benefits of finding work that supported my own goals, and the risks of taking on work that didn’t. (If you haven’t articulated your goals as an e-Learning freelancer yet, it may help to review this article from earlier in this blog series.)
It was only when I started comparing my work from different clients that I began to realize the positive effects my favorite relationships and projects were having on my career and my general outlook, and the negative impacts of my more challenging situations.
[This topic continues in my e-Book series, How to Become an e-Learning Freelancer.]