How to choose a freelance project

One thing I’ve discovered over the past few years is that being a freelancer pushes you in unexpected directions. Not only do you have to produce quality, creative work that will keep your clients coming back time and time again, you have to take care of all the details by yourself. From marketing, writing pitches, performing admin tasks, tracking your time, and talking with clients, a freelancer needs to be good at everything to be successful. Being self-motivated is really the key to making it in the freelance world.

Knowing What Clients to Accept

After years of struggling to learn how to get clients, manage my time effectively, and be a top-notch freelancer, I’m fortunate to be able to choose which projects and clients I accept, and can turn down jobs that aren’t a good fit. Knowing what clients to say yes to can be a difficult balancing act, and I’d never really thought about the method I use to choose projects until I met Gavin.

Gavin is a photographer, writer, and fellow nomad, and we connected over shared interests and a love of good coffee. One afternoon a few weeks ago, we started talking about how we weigh the pros and cons of new job offers, and he shared with me his 3 tenets of how to choose which projects are worthy of his time and effort.

1 – It needs to be interesting

When choosing whether or not to accept a project, consider if you find the work interesting. Several years ago I said yes to almost every project, but now I’m more concerned with job satisfaction, and that means working on projects that excite me. Getting motivated to work will be easy if the project is in a field that you’re passionate about.

2 – It needs to pay well

Never discredit the pay rate of a new project. As much as we’d like to pretend we don’t need to make decisions based on our finances, the truth is that getting a good wage for quality work is essential. Don’t sell yourself short, or accept a job that won’t pay you what you’re worth. This will breed resentment, and you won’t be motivated to invest time in the project or produce quality work.

3 – It needs to advance your career

The third tenet when it comes to accepting a new project is that it needs to advance your career. Maybe you’re at the top of your field, and the jobs you normally accept don’t push you to learn and grow. However, if you want great job satisfaction a project that pushes you to learn new skills is far more gratifying and motivating, and you’ll be able to integrate new information and advance your knowledge base and your career.

It’s a Balancing Act

When it comes to picking which projects you want to spend your time on, it’s all a balancing act. If you find a project that fulfills all 3 of these tenets, say yes immediately! This project will bring you both income and satisfaction, and will help you hone your skills. You’ll feel that you are doing meaningful work, and can wake up each day excited to advance the project.

If the job offer can meet 2 of the tenets, it is certainly worth considering. For example, if you find the job interesting and it pays well, it’s ok that this project won’t push your career. However, if you get offered a project that only fulfills one of the tenets, it’s best to walk away. You might get offered a project that pays well, but if it doesn’t advance your career and will be boring to work on, then despite the money this project isn’t worth your time. Keep looking for a better offer, and don’t waste your talent on jobs that won’t satisfy you.

Next time you get offered a new project, ask yourself if it fulfills these 3 tenets. It will give you clarity on where you want to invest your time, and you’ll be happier with your work. Try it out and let me know how it goes!


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If you’re ready to take your project to the next level, contact me today. I’m always excited to discover new projects, and connect with talented people who have a vision for their business. Drop me a line and I’ll get back to you.