I’ve found myself chatting to people at recent networking events about how I ‘screen’ briefs that comes my way through what I call my ‘PCB’ (perfect client brief).

What’s a PCB?

It’s basically a list of questions I ask myself before committing to either a) putting a proposal together or b) saying yes to a piece of work without carefully thinking it through first.

Where it came from

It developed after a conversation with my business coach about how to manage my workload more effectively. I’d had a busy year and taken a bit too much on — including projects that weren’t necessarily the right fit.

Why I’ve found it useful

It helps me question the type of work I take on. It stops me from saying yes to absolutely everything. And it’s there to remind me that it’s OK to say no; that not all briefs are going to be right for me. That way, I don’t end up in a pickle, and the client finds the right freelancer too.


With every brief I try (as best as I can) to establish and consider:

  • Does the work have purpose?
  • Does the work offer an opportunity to make a difference to someone or something I care about?
  • Does the client share my values?
  • Does the brief have a realistic budget and timeframe?
  • Is the client open to new ways of working or flexible approaches?
  • Does the brief make sense, or will it take a long time to unravel? Is it worth investing in time to do this with the client?
  • Does the client have a propensity to pay?
  • Does the work sit comfortably alongside my other work/family commitments?
  • Is it going to stretch me — in a good way, or in a bad way (impacting on health and wellbeing)?

I’m in a position where I can be choosier with my work after eleven years’ freelancing. But I do think there’s value in all freelancers having their own PCB which matches their own personal circumstances. Organisations will obviously consider whether you’re the right freelancer for them — but we should also think about whether they’re the right organisation for us too.