The 6 Most Wonderful Words In Freelancing

A fledgling freelancer writes:

I pitched a non-profit organization my services to revamp their (dreadful) website, manage the site for them, and offered the option of additional content creation… a few weeks later the biz manager replied that the board approved hiring me as their webmaster at the rates I pitched.

I offered to send her a list of questions for the board to look over and respond to… I send her the questions and wait a few days.

Instead of emailing me directly, the biz manager forwards my email with the questions to the entire board and me with this note: “Before we even get a quote from this person for website management, she’d like some input from us.”

This was slightly off-putting because 1) “this person” as though we haven’t been communicating via email and phone for weeks and 2) she’s acting like needing further input before sending a final proposal is unreasonable. But I chalked it up to her being a little brusque in general.

Then a board member replies with, “By the way, I spoke with [education tech company] and they said they’d work on our site for free. Something to keep in mind!” At this point, I’m realizing that they don’t know I’m in the email thread.

The biz manager replies with, “Well that sounds promising! Are they willing to do it for a year or two or ten? :)”

What’s my move here? I feel like we had a good faith agreement and they’re about to break it. I also don’t think they realize that the “free” website help the edtech company is offering comes with strings and there might be an ethics issue they aren’t seeing. Should I address that at all and, if so, how would I address it given that I don’t think they realize I’m on their email thread?

I love when this happens.

Guaranteed, nobody responding on that thread knows you’re on it. And, it’s hilarious to watch them squirm once they realize you are. If you handle it right, they’ll not only hire you immediately, but you’ll likely have a client for life because of the grace you show.

So, here’s what you do. Reply all to the thread with something like this: “Hey guys, XYZ here. Just wanted to let you know you seem to have accidentally included me on this email. Looks like you’re still working out what you want to do with the project. Once you’ve done so, let me know either way.”

Then, watch as the profuse apologies come flying in.

Chances are, they’ll hire you out of sheer embarrassment. And, even if not, it makes for a good laugh and a story to tell.

Then, once you fire off that email, you do the thing you should be doing, anyway. The thing that elite freelancers do that struggling freelancers don’t. The thing that creates income stability and a low tolerance for ish like this.

Go out and aggressively pursue other clients.

It’s like when a girl or guy you like rejects you. You don’t sit around whining about it or jumping through all their hoops to change their mind. You go find somebody else and make ’em jealous!

So, that if/when this client gets back to you and says they’re ready to proceed with you, you can say the 6 most wonderful words in all of freelancing:

“Sorry, I am no longer available.”

And, of course, this is why I constantly harp on the need to build a “client-getting system”. A funnel, if you will, that works 24/7 to bring you new clients. Because, when you get that system in place and it starts sending more clients your way than you can handle…

Everything changes.

You’re no longer hard-up for work. You no longer feel insecure. You no longer let the fear of “work drying” up or “not knowing where it’s coming from” control you. You’re free.

And, when you encounter nonsense like this…

You can move on without a moment’s hesitation.

You’ll also make more as a result of this newfound confidence. 

In any case, my system has helped me to freelance from home, full-time, for the past 9 years. It’s not magic. It’s also not rocket science. The trick is in simply DOING it. Because, it does take some work. 

But, if you DO put in the work, I’m confident you’ll never be one of those constantly struggling freelancers, desperate for work, that clients pat on the head and say, “good boy” after they’ve flung you in a thousand different directions with their project.

Anyway, I teach you what I do in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. You can enroll in the course on Udemy here:



P.S. Or, if you prefer Skillshare, you can learn how to get all my courses, including this one, for free here:

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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