Learning to Say No

Quick Post

Just a quick post I thought I should share:


When I started designing web sites back in 2008, I was driven by an unquenchable thirst to acquire skills to design and develop web sites that would wow my clients and their visitors. Thankfully, the pieces began to fit together as my active pursuit of martian skills matched what you might call God-given talent.

For the first few months, I was happy to do absolutely any job whatsoever, whether it was a church site or a pro bono site for an NGO. However, as my skills and experience increased over the years, a tension began to arise. I was getting about five to ten offers to design web sites every month. Since I aspire to give my best in all I do, I was in a situation where I’d do three or four of those sites, charging very little because I had never dared to cross the common threshold of about 40k. By the end of the month, I was worn out, stressed, broke, and dissatisfied because I hadn’t paid as much attention to the design of the sites as I would’ve wanted to.

So what has changed since then? Simple. I learnt to say no. It’s probably the most important lesson I have learnt in the field so far.

For the creatives and developers out there, if you have paid your dues by acquiring skills the hard way, it may be time for you to start saying no. If people are hunting you down for your work, limit the amount of projects you do and raise the amount of money you charge. After all, that’s the practical logic of demand vs supply in business, right?

Of course they’ll be times when you will make sacrifices for whatever number of reasons. Feel free to do so. But when you do, let that be clear to the beneficiaries.

Be brave and try it, you’ll thank me…

7 responses to “Learning to Say No”

  1. Mark Kaigwa says:

    Great thoughts. Couldn’t agree more, bro.

    More power in what you say no to than in what you agree to do. Neat design by the way on the website and blog.

  2. Learning to say no is great, but training others and spreading wings is greater. Just a thought…

  3. Cool. Works all the time.

  4. opifire says:

    I was reading this post for the 2nd time, and that phrase “dissatisfied because I hadn’t paid as much attention to the design of the sites as I would’ve wanted to.” keeps ringing in my head.

    I remember a long while ago I had taken on a client. Because it was my first website and I was thrilled at having to do sth webby for the first time, I charged $200 (around 16k by then). We agreed the client would pay 50% at the beginning, and the other when the work was done. So that meant 8k. And because a friend had referred him to me, the friend took 2k, and I remained with 6k. The hosting costed 3,600, which I took out of the 6k…

    As the project progressed, there was a lot of goal-shifting. The scope kept widening and widening, and the project dragged on for 11 months. I did not want to let go of the client, so I kept “persevering”, and using my own money for this and that.

    At the end, the client (an officer in a prominent NGO in the country), decided to end the contract, citing my “lack of skills” as the reason. I didn’t get the 8k that I fought so hard and long for. I wasn’t angry (the design could tell the quality of my work. After all I was learning…). But I got my lesson-the hard way.

    (The next time, I doubled the price. The client co-operated. And I keep going up to match the value of my work.)

    Long story short, charge what you are worth. And learn to say no.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! It’s good to know we’re not alone, that challenges are real, and that perseverance and hard work pays off eventually.

      I wish you all the best in your work.

signed. martians.™