I told a client no.

I do a quite a bit of freelance work in online marketing and copywriting. I get clients that aren’t really the best people to work with. I’m sure you know what’s that like And I won’t get poetic about it (unless you really want me to).

Well for this client, their request was bordering on shady AF.

What they essentially want me to do is grab a list of information about people from another site that seems to be dead, put it on theirs and ask me to reach out to them after the fact and tell them,

“Yoohoo, we’re xxx and we put your info on our site, let us know if you need us to update the information and here’s your affiliate code.”

Nope, nope, nope-ity, nope. Just nope.

Meet my new buddy the No Whale.

Meet my new buddy the No Whale.

I told them that I won’t do it and I was quite adamant about it.

If you’re asking why? Well that’s not the point. But the reason why is, firstly, they didn’t get permission from those people even though their information are in the public, secondly not everyone will want to be associated with the business.

They made lots of whiney noises and excuses but I held my ground. And just said, I can’t do it cos it’s wrong and its bad for you.

And if you’re wonder, but Janessa, that’s a terrible way to treat your client.

Well, did you think about the consequences that might happen if I caved in?

Eventually someone on that list will go,

”Who dis? How’d you get my info, my lawyer will be contacting you.”


“Boycott @xxx. They’re shady AF, they put my info on their site without my permission and expect me to promote them.”

Now that’s a terrible way to treat your client.

I used to be so afraid to say no and it’s taken me so long to get to this point.

My stupid weak-ass justification then was, “I should yes, so that the client is happy.”

Well, here’s where saying yes led to:

  1. It made my job difficult. I was doing things that weren’t productive and often times against what I know is right.

  2. When shit hit the fan, it was ugly and the clean up will make you cry.

  3. And not surprisingly, we lost the client at the end of the project.

And here’s what saying ‘No’ gives you:

  1. You’re more empowered in your work because you’re saying no to things that isn’t going to help you in your career and reputation.

  2. You gain the respect of the client because you are establishing and showcasing your expertise and knowledge. I mean that’s why they hired you right?.

  3. You get clients that matters because if saying no means losing a client then they weren’t the right people you should work with in the first place.

At the end of the day when you say no to a client, you say it because you have their best interest in mind.

So I want to hear from you. Tell me in the comments the times you’ve said yes, when you should have said no and what happened?

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P.P.S I say client in my post but this could easily be replaced with the words ‘boss’ , ‘mum’, ‘dad’, ‘annoying younger sibling’ or ‘friend who’s always borrowing cash and promising they’ll pay you back really soon’

P.P.P.S. (I swear it’s the last one) If you loved No Whale, and you absolutely must have it, it’s available as an art print in my Society6 Shop.