Today I read a fellow freelancer suggest that short term clients are better than long term, multi-project clients, because they don’t come back and ask him to do boring projects he doesn’t want to do.
Look – every time a client asks you to bid on a project, you can say no. What ever gave you the idea that you couldn’t?
I agree it can be harder when you have a relationship with the client, but it certainly isn’t impossible to tell a client that their project doesn’t fit with your business model. Even if it is similar to something you have done in the past, just tell them that your interests have changed.
He said: well then they probably won’t come back to you.
Yes, that is a possibility. But so what? If their work really is unappealing to you, go and look for a long-term client that has more interesting work. And not all repeat business is automatically boring. Why increase your sales/marketing costs by having to find a new client all the time if you don’t have to?
Bottom line: if you have trouble telling a client “no” for your own purposes, I have difficulty believing you’ll be willing to say “no” to them when they want to do something stupid and you have no skin in the game at all. A good freelancer will tell customers the truth even if it hurts a bit. Bad ones shrink from honesty and hide in “the customer is always right”.