How to Say No

Are you are working you a$s off to create a killer illustration portfolio, market yourself as a professional illustrator, and attract more of your ideal projects?

If so, why on earth would you jeopardise that, throw away all your hard work and start saying ‘No!’ to turn down projects that come your way?

The simple answer is this:

When you say “No” to the wrong kind of clients, work and projects, you make space for the right ones to show up.

But even though you intuitively already know this, it probably doesn’t help if you’re struggling to make ends meet and earn a decent living from your illustration. So let’s explore this in more detail…

Does saying “No” make you feel uncomfortable?

Why does it make you feel this way?

  • Do you feel like you’re letting someone down?
  • Could you do with the money, even though it’s less than you’d really charge for something like this?
  • Are you just really bad at saying “No” to people? (Why is that?)

What does it mean – to you and to the recipient – when you say “No”?

  • Are you saying “Never”?
  • Are you saying “I don’t like you”?
  • Are you saying “Don’t ever contact me again”?

…because often a simple “no” means none of those things, it simply means “No, not this time but thank you so much for asking me” (which is a great way to clarify your “no”) 🙂

Why you MUST get comfortable saying “No”

As a professional person, it is your duty to set and then maintain and protect your boundaries. If you don’t, this is typically what happens:

  • You frequently feel like you’re being taken advantage of.
  • You feel that people don’t respect you.
  • You feel like people don’t value what you do enough.
  • You feel like you’ll never be able to charge what you want.
  • You feel like you’ll be stuck doing low paying projects.

If you want the opposite of all of the above: Respect, trust, appreciation, gratitude, acknowledgement and more, then set and respect own boundaries. If you don’t, why should anyone else?

How to get comfortable with saying “No”

1. Think of your business as a separate entity from you…

When you are in negotiation about a project, as the protector of your business it is your job to do what’s best for it (and you).

No-one else has solely your business’ best interests at heart – not your clients, not your agent, and sometimes not even you. From now on, make it your sole mission to protect the business you’re building, and say “no” when something isn’t in its (your) best interests.

2. Have a plan…

You may already know how we feel about having a plan (Hint: We’re big fans!), because having a plan gives you some very definite criteria (and boundaries) to stick to.

When you have a plan, and you know where you’re aiming to get to with your business, it gives you much clarity when an opportunity comes along because all that’s required is to ask yourself the question:

“Does this take me closer to or further away from my goal?”

If something is likely to take you further away from your ultimate goal, then it requires you to weigh up whether any other perceived benefits and advantages are truly worth it.

3. It’s not personal…

One of the main reasons people have a hard time saying “no!” is because it feels personal.

Remember this: When you say “no”, you are protecting yourself and your business’ interests in the same way the potential client is protecting theirs.

It is absolutely NOT personal, it’s a simple act of weighing up the benefits and drawbacks for your business, and communicating this professionally.

Who on earth are you to start saying “No” when potential clients come your way?

You are the sole protector of your boundaries, your business’ boundaries and your interests, and it is your absolute and sole responsibility to say “No” when something isn’t the best fit for you or your business. Right? Right 😉

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