In-demand freelancers: if you let your clients know you’re fully booked, you might end up earning more money.
As Carol Tice explains at Make a Living Writing, telling clients that you don’t have time to take on their project can benefit you in the long run:
When you tell some prospects you can’t take them on because you’re too busy, they are impressed. You must be a good writer!
They want to hire you even more. Sometimes, they offer you more money in hopes of getting you to kick someone else off your schedule to make room for their assignment. Sometimes, you say yes.
Tice also notes that if you’re considering turning down a new client because you don’t have time for them, you should ask yourself whether it would be smarter to turn down one of your current clients instead. Maybe it’s time to end your lowest-paying client relationship, for example, to give yourself enough time and space to take on a higher-paying one.
In short: if a client offers you a gig and you’re not sure you have time to fit it into your freelance schedule, don’t take on the extra work and run yourself ragged. Tell the client you’d like to work with them but you’re currently fully booked, and see how they respond.
If they offer you more money, you’ve just increased your potential earnings.
If they ask to be placed in the next available slot in your schedule, you’ve just booked yourself some future work—and warded off a potential freelance dry spell. (You can also offer the client the next spot in your schedule, instead of waiting for them to ask.)
If they ghost, act insulted, or aren’t flexible enough to schedule their project around your existing workload, then you know they probably wouldn’t be a good client for you in the long run.
And it’s not like you have to worry about losing that prospective client.
After all, you’re fully booked.