Saying no to projects with pricing

Don’t undervalue your service and experience, you will be amazed to find out how much some businesses are willing to pay for it.

Saying no to projects with pricing

Here is a common scenario:

You are a designer and working on a project that you are happy with. Then you receive an email from a new potential client, the project looks okay but you have limited time and are unsure to take it, leaning more into not taking it. How do you respond to that email? It usually goes like this;

Hi, thank you for reaching out. Currently I’m not available for new projects. I can refer you to a friend.

OK, this is an oversimplified email 😅 but you get the idea, basically, turning it down with a kind email. However, I challenge you to try a different approach.

Since you are not very keen on taking the project, take this situation as an opportunity to experiment with your pricing. This method has helped to better understand how to position my pricing for various types, sizes of clients and projects, so the email would go something like this:

Thank you for reaching out. Currently I have limited availability however I may be able to reschedule some commitments, my rate is 3x(your normal rate).
Happy to catch up for further details.

Again, this is an oversimplified response. I NEVER give a rate before understanding various factors such as

  • Deadline (the shorter, the higher $)
  • Business value (the higher, the higher $)
  • Business risk (the higher, the higher $)
  • Scope (the higher, the higher $)

So in this case, there are 2 ways the potential client can respond;

Case 1

That is too high for our budget, we have 0,5x (your normal rate).

You can say, thank you and move on.

Case 2

That sounds a bit high but we can do 2x, would that be possible?

Now you have a few options:

  • You can negotiate for 2,5x and take the project if you have the capacity.
  • You can still turn it down by saying that you checked with your other commitments, and won’t be possible to deliver on the expected deadline.

Either way in this Case 2, you have learned that there are businesses out there happy to pay 2x+ $ for your service.

I have experimented a lot with this approach. This is one of the many factors how I have managed to earn more every year while working fewer hours.

There was a time I asked for $32k for a 1-week sprint, just because I didn’t want that project, but the client agreed. Then I rescheduled my other projects and got that sprint done with a great business result. Win-Win.

Don’t undervalue your service and experience, you will be amazed to find out how much some businesses are willing to pay for it.
Stop charging hourly! Start charging for the Value!
Ask questions to understand the client, business goals, competition, problems, the VALUE and offer your solution based on that, not on your hour.

If you have any comments or questions about this article, you can write to me at Twitter @oykun or email me at hello[at]

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