Should You Work on a Project You Don’t Believe In?

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smashed ideaOne of the major benefits of freelancing is freedom. You can choose to work on projects that interest you. Similarly, you can refuse to take on tedious work or projects that are doomed to fail.

Salaried employees rarely have that luxury. They may be able to convey their fears but, unless they can convince their boss, the work will still come their way.

Assuming you’re offered work that is not illegal or immoral, what should you do when faced with a dumb idea? Is it a service that users won’t want? Is the business entering an already-crowded market? Are there serious technical issues? How should you handle an excited client with an idea that simply won’t work?

In the current economic climate, it’s tempting to take any job offer. However, you have a vested interest in all your projects. Clients with successful businesses will return again and recommend your services. At best, a failed business will not provide additional work. At worst, the client could blame you for their woes. You could also take on a task that leads to many painful months of effort only to miss out on better and more lucrative opportunities.

My first recommendation is communication. The client is paying for your services and they will usually listen to your concerns. Ask leading questions to avoid sounding negative and make sure the client has considered their project from all angles.

Remember also to have an open mind and try not to be over-dismissive. Success is not always measured in monetary terms and some of the most unlikely ideas can succeed. Who would have thought that a 140-character web message broadcasting system would attract millions of users? What about a home page showing a 1000×1000 graphic where each pixel is sold for a dollar?

Business prosperity can never be assured. However, you will be more motivated to complete the task if the project interests you and you have a good working relationship with the client.

Do you accept every project? Do you reject more than you take on? How do you judge whether the work is worthwhile?

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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