Turning Down a Freelancer (+ Templates!)

July 31, 2023

Red x in front of a curtain. Photo by Helena Jankovičová Kováčová on Pexels.com.
Red X

Hey, folks!

When you’re looking for a freelancer, editor or otherwise, it’s likely that you’re looking at more than one person. You’re trying to find which freelancer is best for you and your project, and we anticipate that being the case! But what that often leads to is at least one of those freelancers being ghosted. (Ghosted = when someone stops responding to messages, effectively disappearing like a ghost.)

I’m here to ask you to rethink ghosting freelancers at any stage of the process.   It might seem more polite to ghost – you don’t want to hurt our feelings by saying “sorry, I’ve chosen someone else,” “sorry, the quote is too expensive for my budget,” or even “sorry, our styles don’t quite mesh for me.” Or you don’t think it really matters – we get a bunch of client requests anyway, what’s one potential client peacing out quietly*?

(*Not always the case. Most freelancers go through a “feast and famine” cycle, where they’ve got a number of potential clients approaching them sometimes, and other times absolute silence. Getting ghosted during the absolute silence is a bit of a blow, to be honest.)

Yes, being told “no” can sting, but the thing is, not hearing back is worse. Why? We don’t know whether we need to reserve a spot for you, and we don’t know if it’s more worth it to take on a different client – thereby pushing you down the line – or to wait for your answer.

Essentially, it hits our schedule and potentially our bank accounts.

It doesn’t have to be a long email – it can be as simple as what I put above! But letting us know you’re going to pass frees up the space we were reserving for you, letting us take on another client with a clear conscious and less stress (we know we’re not overfilling our schedules!).

If you need time to decide before you commit or pass, we’d also appreciate knowing that. A quick heads up that you have to look into things, and that you’ll get back to us by such and such a day, is very helpful. It also lets us inform you of whether or not that’ll impact your place in line, so we’re all on the same page.

Freelancers are also sometimes ghosted after confirmation of working together has been made. That can be at the signing of the contract or during the project itself. This creates an even bigger hit to our schedules, because we’ve already accounted for working with you and may have had interactions with other potential clients accordingly. And partway through the project, it makes us question whether we’ll get paid any outstanding amounts.

Though this isn’t the sort of ghosting most people would resort to, it does sometimes happen, and once again, we need to know if you’re ending our agreement. Especially if you want to avoid us tracking you down for the rest of that money. Just reach out and let us know what’s going on – we’ll figure something out.

A final remark – if you reach out to tell us you won’t be going with our services, it actually provides us with an opportunity to evaluate what we’re doing. It might simply be that we’re not in your budget, which we can’t help, but perhaps through conversing with you we notice a skill we’re lacking, or a part of the process that needs to be improved. Your (polite) “nos” can sometimes lead to our growth!

I can’t tell you how many times a potential client has ghosted me – it’s too many to count. I know I’m not the only freelancer in this position. So please, don’t add yourself to those ranks! Let us know you won’t be working with us so you can go on to work with your chosen freelancer and we can go on to work with another client.

I also get it, though – coming up with messages like that is HARD, and it can suck. So I’ve created templates for you! Feel free to download them and use them whenever you need. Even if it’s to email me 😉

Message template: Turning down a freelancer
Message template: Deliberating offer
Message template: Terminating agreement

Published by Kaila Desjardins

Freelance editor, fiction writer, proud nerd.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: