I'm going to keep this as positive and broad to all freelance visual work but I do apologise for when I slip into photography specifics.
The thread goes.. 'i need to have a flow of income off my creative but I also need to build my work, production value, and establish elevated work shoot by shoot.'
This comment boils down to ' i'm getting lots of offers of little shoots which don't allow me to improve and grow whilst also burning me out - when is it right to say no?'
My Summer 2017 reasons to politely say NO :
1. The brief is unoriginal and there is no conversation room to improve it.
2. The brief doesn't allow you to improve.
3. A commission ignores your style, look and feel.
4. The overall budget is 0 and it has overheads unaccounted for.
5. You're booked in heavily and a 0 budget shoot would cost you paid work.
6. You don't like the creative direction / music etc.
7. The budget causes a breakdown of production value, production or makes you feel uncomfortable that you have what you need to guarantee quality of your work.
8. Expectation of free/cheap work #thisiswhatidoforaliving.
9. They are a person/act you'd like to work with in the future but doesn't have the right budget presently.
10. YOU LOVE WHAT THEY DO but they don't have the right production budget yet.
Some of many reasons to say YES
1. GREAT ideas
2. Great team on board despite low budget that raises production value
3. Willingness to muck in and make something creative and exciting.
5. YOU LOVE WHAT THEY DO and they have the right budget to make something happen.
6. They are willing to workshop shoot with you where you have creative freedom
This is all a bit of a thought bubble but i've had to say no to a lot of work recently as i felt uncomfortable with the terms of shooting for one of those 10 reasons.