There are not many absolutes in the world of freelancing, but one important one is to never, ever, promise something you know you can’t deliver at less than 100%. You might get away with it once or twice, but each time you do it you risk your reputation. And that’s pretty hard to repair.
In your freelance career, there will be times when your client (or prospect) asks for something outside of your wheelhouse. It might be a press release or a media kit, but you’re not a writer. Or it could be a web template but you’re not a coder. You’ve got to decide whether you have the time, energy, and inclination to bill them for this service or refer it to another freelancer who you know will meet or exceed your client’s expectations.
While it’s your responsibility to keep your skills current and relevant, learning something new shouldn’t be on your client’s dime. They are paying you to deliver an excellent product or concept. If you’re confident you can complete the project at your established level of excellence and choose to take on the project, be sure to communicate to the client beforehand so they can decide whether it’s worth the risk. Chances are, it will take you longer to get it right, but if you’re open and honest with your client this can set you up for bigger and better projects in the future. If you’re the person that solves their problems, they’ll be more likely to assign you more work and refer you more often. And sometimes, the best solution is to put them in contact with an expert that you trust. Not only are you helping your client, you’re building your freelance network which should help you discover new opportunities.
I live with a mantra of “Under promise, over deliver” and that’s been very helpful for my career. This doesn’t mean I’m not afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, but it does mean I’m only going to deliver my best to my clients. If I don’t think I can deliver an exceptional product, I will find someone who can. The last thing I want is for my client to go hunting for another freelancer.
What do you do when a client asks for a service you don’t normally provide; Farm it out, Git’r done, or just say “No, sorry”?