OMG. This always surprises me, especially in this economy, when freelancers are practically crawling on top of each other to get to the next project. Any project. If you’re going to commit to the job, you’d better be able to meet the deadline. And if you get in over your head, you sure as hell had better have a back-up plan to save your butt … and your client’s good name.
Look, you never take on a job that you can’t handle; you have to know your limits. And you have to know what you can reasonably juggle; no one can take on the world, do it all, and do it well. And while passing on work sucks, it’s better to let if go, than to crash and burn and destroy your reputation in the process. I mean, the end goal is to have a nice long freelance career, right? No faster way to destroy that dream than to burn a client.
Bottom line: if you take on a job, do everything in your power to meet your deadline. If you know this isn’t going to happen, go to plan B and fast. And you better have your plan B established ahead of time!