SEO Copywriting Advice: When to Turn Down SEO Writing Jobs


Yesterday in my post on, I responded to a reader who wanted to know how to start an SEO writing career while working fulltime. At the end of that post, I touched on when to turn down SEO content writing jobs. As that post ran on for more than 1,800 words, I wanted to pick up that topic here today.

Don’t worry, it’ll be much briefer, as I’m starving and have been writing nonstop for the last six and a half hours.


4 Reasons I Turn Down SEO Writing Jobs

Every person is different, so I’m laying out my reasons for turning down SEO copywriting jobs. Glean from it what you will and then chart your own path.

1. When the Rate’s Not Right: SEO writing rates are all over the place. But, I think my firm’s are low for the quality we turn out. Hence, I tend to be pretty inflexible when it comes to changing them. I’ve passed on tons of jobs because my rates have been deemed “too high.”

For me though, I have to feel good about any job I take on. And, I know from past experience that if I feel like I’m being taken advantage of, I just get this queasy feeling in the bottom of my stomach as I’m working. This means I don’t turn out my best work, which is unfair to the client.

Hence, I charge what I think is a fair rate; and if a prospect can’t pay it, I pass. Again, I’ve been a freelance writer for many years (since 1993) so I know how these things usually shake out. 100% of the time, I’ve regretted going lower when I know my rate is fair to begin with.

2. When the Content Is Not Agreeable: Although New Media Words will write almost all types of SEO content, there’s certain things I won’t write on. The obvious ones are hate material and pornographic material (although we have written for sex toy sites). In my mind, that’s not pornography; it’s a legitimate product.

Other topics I don’t enjoy writing about are technology for example. That’s me personally, so sometimes I would turn down this type of work if it came my way (this was early on when it was just me). Now, I outsource this type of stuff to a tech writer on my team.

About the only type of stuff we won’t take on now are the biggies, porn, hate material, etc.

3. When the Deadline Is Too Tight: Even with a team of four, we sometimes get swamped. And while I could expand my SEO writing team, right now, I don’t want to. I have nice little systems in place that keep the workflow manageable – and allows me to pay my bills and do other stuff I want.

People often forget that when you expand, while you do make more money, it also creates more headaches. So if we absolutely can’t meet a client’s deadline, I’ll turn down the project. That’s fair to them . . . and to me and my staff.

4. Gut Feelings: I’ve been writing SEO content long enough – and been in business for myself long enough – to just get a gut feeling that some projects should be turned down. It could be in the way the initial consult with the client went, or the type of copy they want, or the way they responded to my follow-up questions.

When I get this feeling, I no longer ignore it. I can’t explain it, but I do heed it.

And that folks, are the reasons I turn down SEO writing work. Hope this helps you make decisions about your freelance writing career.

Happy Prospecting!
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2 Comments so far

  1. Kimberly on February 4th, 2010

    Oh I know that “feeling” well. I haven’t always headed the warning signs, but I’m certainly getting better. I now consider knowing when to just say “no” as a survival skill vital to freelancers.

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