Saying No: Reasons why you should and ways to make it easier


Let’s be honest.  For most people, it is hard to say no.  For whatever reason, and they can be different from person to person, we feel like we are letting someone down, are desperate for the client work,  have the fear of missing out on something, or just cannot bring ourselves to say no to whatever is asked of us.


After the last blog post about the problems with always saying yes, so many people messaged me saying that they struggle with this and have a difficult time when it comes to saying no.  


I have been there.  However, I have learned a few things that have made it so much easier to not get caught up in the fear of saying no, but rather to objectively think about and decide if the project is a good fit for me and if not, to say no.


We will look at a few reasons why you should say no to a project and a few ways to make it easier to send that message declining the opportunity.


Reasons to Say No

Not a good fit

Not every client or styled shoot is going to be a good fit for you.  If you get an inquiry about a project that is a completely different aesthetic than your brand, it not going to serve you well to participate or to accept that client.


This is going to sound harsh, but for styled shoots, you should be aiming to work with vendors who are around or above your level.  I do not mean in terms of number of followers or popularity, but rather the quality of their work. You have to be discriminatory about the shoots that you accept and participate in and keep your brand and your objectives in mind when deciding whether to be part of the project.


You don’t have time

Everyone is busy, especially during wedding season - although that can be a little more fluid for stationers. But honestly, you usually know if you don't have time to do something or if your calendar is getting too full.  Trust that inner voice.


Your client work has to come first and you need to be able to serve the clients that booked you months in advance and not compromise that service because you accepted a last minute client or shoot.


When you accept things that you really do not have time to do it will end up causing you more stress than that extra project is worth almost every time.  

My piece of advice - do not accept any styled projects during your busy season.  Take that time to really serve your clients.


The budget is too low

This one is client related.  Not every client who wants to work with you has the budget to do so - and that is alright.  It does not make you a bad or a greedy person to be charging high prices if you have done your research and you are priced fairly.


We work in an industry where styled shoots in magazines, blogs, and Pinterest (which are all great things) have helped to create a bit of an unrealistic expectation for what every couple should have at their wedding.  Most custom wedding services are a luxury and the price reflects this.


It is not your job to lower your prices to accommodate a client's budget because they want to work with you or too add things to the scope of their proposal for free just because they want it.


If a client inquiries but cannot afford what you are charging, politely inform them, recommend another option, and move on.  Do not lower your prices - you will regret it.


Trust your instinct

I talked about this a little in the last post, but I think it bears repeating.  So often in talking to other stationers about a bad situation that they have found themselves in, they almost always will tell me that they saw red flags, or should not have taken the project.  


Your instincts are probably right.  If you have a bad feeling about a client, or a styled shoot is not creatively inspiring to you - say no.  It is really as simple as that.


You have other priorities

While we all have different amounts of time and energy that we are willing and able to invest into our business, All of us have a life outside our work.


Remember how taking on too much can affect the other relationships in your life and use that to bolster you when you need to say no to an opportunity.


I know for me, becoming a mother has actually helped because I both have a good excuse not to be able to do something , but also I think about if I am willing how much time this project will be taking me away from my daughter.


Ways to make it easier to say no

Don't give excuses

You do not need to explain why you are saying no, and they client or vendor probably does not care.  There is no need to send a long explanation about why you are declining, rather simply say that you are unavailable and leave it at there.  It is more professional and is final so they will not come back to you trying to rebut your excuse.


Make a recommendation

This is maybe the best piece of advice in terms of making it easier to say no.  When you can send one or two recommendations to the client to vendor of someone who would be a good fit for the project, you are not leaving them at a dead end but rather are helping them to find someone who will ultimately be a better fit.


Also, you can help others in your industry to gain more exposure and to maybe get a client who may not have found them on their own.  I love getting to refer business or great editorial opportunities to younger stationers when I have to decline.


Set a rule and have an accountability partner

Setting a rule for yourself can be helpful, such as “I am not accepting any more weddings until November” or “I am not taking on any more styled shoots this year”.  This gives you a concrete reason to say no, but you have to stick to it.


That is why having an accountability partner is great.  It is easier to tell someone else to say no! So if you are tempted to break that rule, run it by your accountability partner and they can help you to stand your ground.



Believe it or not, saying no does get easier.  Although we all still struggle from time to time, the more that you practice saying no, the easier it will become.  I promise.

Saying no is not easy, but it is something that we all need to learn to do.


We don't want to disappoint anyone or miss out on an opportunity, but the truth is that there are so many great vendors, clients, and projects out there. When one comes your way that is not quite right for you, have the confidence to professionally and politely decline, send a few recommendations and feel good that you did not commit yourself to something that was ultimately not a good thing for your.


I hope this was helpful and that you can use a few of these things the next time you need to say no.

Need more help?

Design House Prep School has an entire course all about the Art of Saying No and how you can use saying no to actually grow your business.  Victoria also talks about how to graciously decline an opportunity as well.