Three Things to Consider When Choosing Projects

Three Things to Consider When Choosing Projects design by Under After

This article was originally printed in Net Mag’s “The Freelancer Issue — The Ultimate Guide to Going it Alone” (Issue 270).

How do you know which freelance projects to take?

Let’s say you’ve worked hard to build up a solid portfolio and you have a reliable network of other freelancers and former clients who recommend you for new work. You may face the challenge of choosing which new business opportunities to pursue. If you accept all incoming work yourself you’ll likely overcommit, compromising on quality or your sanity. This can damage your reputation and ultimately your business. But if you limit the number of projects you take, you may miss out on exciting opportunities when they arise.

Know What Motivates You

There’s no easy answer. Be honest with yourself about what motivates you to do your best. It may be the specifics of certain types of creative challenges or the craft of the work. You may love working for a certain type of client. You may be motivated by peer recognition or awards. Or it may all be about the money.

Optimize for what you can control: new business leads are varied and unpredictable, so you have to trust that you’re choosing what to work on based on the best available information you have at that time.

Three Criteria

I look at new opportunities based on three criteria:

  • 1. Do I like the people I’d be working with?
  • 2. Will I be challenged and learn something new?
  • 3. Can I add as much value as possible for the time I spend on the project?

If the answer to all these questions is “yes” then the project will likely be a good fit for me.