Are other creatives our “competition”?

Deidre RienzoI say “no” to projects a lot.

In fact, I politely decline projects all the time. You might think, “Oh, she’s overloaded with work and she’s turning projects away … how obnoxious.”

You might think I’m ungrateful. You might think I’m successful and boasting about it. In fact, that’s probably what I thought when I started out and people talked about turning down jobs. Gosh, how are they turning down jobs when I’m dying to get jobs?

But I’m not overloaded with work. I’m not raking in tons of cash. I’m not even close to making my ideal yearly salary. And I’m tremendously grateful for every client and project. Heck, maybe I’m kind of dumb for turning away work when my plate’s not full?

I’m just saying no because I think it’s important.

My offering is my livelihood. I want to stand behind everything I do. And sure, while business isn’t all about feelings, I need to feel that I’m providing something of real value to my clients. When I decline, I say to clients, “I don’t feel like I’m the right fit for this project. I want you to get the best work possible.”

This is where things get delicate…

I want to know other writers. I want to have a lofty network of incredible writers. Is this scary? Are other writers the competition? I don’t think so. In fact, I think we need each other. Imagine if I could send ideal projects your way, and if you wanted, you could send some my way? I would love to be able to tell clients, “I’m not the right fit, but I know a great writer who is.”

In my quest to know more writers, I posted a call for writers to introduce themselves. (Writers, please say hello and share your specialties.)

My web designer client and friend, Megan Coleman, wanted to broaden her network too. She posted a discussion asking web designers to introduce themselves. (Web designers, please say hello and share your specialties.)

I want to say “no” with confidence by recommending someone who is right for the job. I’d certainly feel like I’m providing my clients a better service if I could do this.

What do you think? Do you ever say no to jobs? Do you refer other creatives who are better suited? Is there a fear that other writers or designers will steal our jobs or our clients?

What if you had a great network of colleagues? Would it change the way you do business?

BTW: Come meet other creatives who can be part of your network at CFC: The Business Conference for the Creatively Self Employed. You know they’re serious and reliable if they’re spending the money to attend this event (June 22-24 in San Francisco: early bird deadline is March 15. Details and registration here.)