Should You Take the Check Even if You’re Not Into Your Client?

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Graphic Design / Creative Freelancer Advice: Should You Take the Check Even if You’re Not Into Your Client?

Whether you’re looking to break into the business world as a hired graphic/web designer for a company, looking to find another full-time gig as a graphic/web designer or you’re out there working for clients as a freelancer, it’s bound to happen to you sooner or later: you have to decide to work for a client/company that you’re just not that interested in.

Over the years I’ve had clients/employers like an online document company, insurance company, contact lenses, realtors, laundry mat chain, an auto garage and even hang-over pill (yes, you read that right). None of these businesses were all that bad to work with (well, maybe the hang-over pill); I just wasn’t that into them.

I suppose it’s kind of like dating a girl/guy that you’re not all that into isn’t it? Sure you’re with someone but it’s not all that fun.

Of course your list of “not-so-fun” businesses to work with will be different than mine, that’s cool – everyone is going to have a slightly different list.

The question is, “Should you consider still working for a client/company that you’re not all that into?” What do you think?

In looking at this from somewhat of a logical standpoint, here’s what I am seeing:


  • Money…good for paying bills and getting cool stuff
  • Opportunity to add to, and diversify portfolio
  • Opportunity for testimonial, referrals


  • You’re design, focus and effort might not be that good if you’re not into what you’re doing
  • Borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring work, you’ll often end up procrastinating / perhaps missing deadlines
  • If this is a longer-term or permanent position (like a job), it really might start to suck after a while…whether you’re getting paid or not. There’s nothing worse knowing you’ve got a butt-load of work ahead of you that you’re really not all that into.

My Advice on Taking the Money or Moving on:

For me, there really was no concrete answer, although I’ll tell you that more often than not, I often regretted, “sucking it up, doing the project and taking the money“.

On a short-term basis I’d personally take the money and run, especially when the economy is rough. If it’s not a permanent position and you feel that you’ll probably only be doing one or just a few small projects for a client, I’d go forward, take the project and get paid.

Longer-term, which would include on-going/big freelancing projects and of course a full-time gig, I’d most likely pass. My logic here is that if I am totally not in to what my client/employer’s doing, it’s going to be challenging for me to design for them – I am not going to be nearly as effective, nor will I be providing my best work and effort. There’s a good chance that I am going to be slower in delivering the project (since I won’t be motivated to do it) and worst of all, I am not going to enjoy the experience.

I’ve found that I can stay with a client/company for a little while even if I am not into what they’re doing (especially if I needed the cash), but I never found that over time that I became more interested in working with them. Longer-term, permanent positions never seemed to work out, so I’ve elected to just be honest with myself up-front and ask:

  • Do I really want to work with this client/company?
  • Is this a long or short term gig, and can I just tough it out?
  • Will I be able to deliver a great effort in spite of not really digging what they’re doing?
  • Are there other clients/companies I can work with instead of this one, or do I really need the money?

If you’ve been in this situation before, how have you handled it? What questions do you ask yourself? How did it all work out?

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