Something I hear quite frequently runs something like this: "You'd have been perfect for our project, and I'd have hired you in a minute, but you know, we probably wouldn't have been able to afford you."
Well, many of the instances that clients believed this to be the case would actually have worked out just fine. If I had to depend only on the big-budget projects for my livelihood I'd probably go broke. The truth is I work for all kinds of clients, big, small and in-between. Many times the most interesting projects are the ones that don't have the huge budgets. There sometimes seems to be a direct inverse correlation between budget size and creative freedom. Often we can find a way to work something out.
Just as an example, a recent project of mine was to do logos for a pair of Los Angeles restaurants—one in Beverly Hills, the other in the Los Feliz/Silverlake area—Dominick's and Little Dom's, two recent additions by restauranteur Warner Ebbink.
The budget wasn't gargantuan, but we were also able to work out a situation where I was able to take advantage of his hospitality in exchange for my design expertise—it was win-win all around.