If you are in the freelancing business, customers asking for revisions is something you’ll come across often. When customers demand far too many revisions, it can be downright frustrating. However, it comes with the territory and you should be prepared to deal with this on a regular basis.
Even if your client requires, “just a few changes” in the original project, this process can be challenging. Most of the customers don’t even know what they want until they look at your initial draft. In that scenario, they ask for massive changes that are both time-consuming and irritating. They don’t even understand how much work goes into those changes and ask for too many revisions.
10 Ways to Handle a Client Asking too Many Revisions
Time is money. To be an effective freelancer, you need to avoid people who ask for endless revisions. This process is quite fragile. You don’t want to damage your reputation by being too harsh, but you also don’t want to waste your precious time because a client is unable to figure out what they want. To help you out, here are our top 10 ways to handle revision requests professionally and effectively that will both save your time and keep your clients happy.
Before starting a project, it is essential to set certain boundaries. Pleasing your clients is important in business, but you will find yourself in an endless cycle of revisions if you don’t set some boundaries. Before partnering with a client, you must ask, “At what point should I stop making changes and get paid for my work?”
This step is important to spot and avoid a bad apple right from the beginning. To do this, you need to set a meeting, either virtually or in person, and look for some red flags, such as:
- Negative feedback about other professionals
- Disagreeable communication style
- Inability to answer the fundamental questions about the project
- No specific allocated budget
- Inability to articulate their needs
If you are happy with the agreed outcome, it’s time to sign a contract. An ideal contract includes some specific outline, such as the detailed scope of the project, the number of revisions, and your fee. We recommend including an additional fee that you will charge for every revision. Most importantly, you should add a termination clause in a contract that gives you the right to end the project if you think you can no longer work with that specific client.
Educate Your Clients
Remember that you are the professional and expert in your field, not your clients. They hired you because you have the knowledge and experience – they don’t. Some clients you work with won’t understand the process or even the exact definition of revisions. In your first meeting, you must educate your clients and explain the design and revision process to them.
The designing process is quite complex. As a designer, first, you need to draw a draft and ask for your customer’s feedback. After that, some changes are made to give your project a more realistic and better-end result. Create work approach that sets specific expectations from both the client and yourself to provide perspective and vision.
To have control of the number of revisions you provide, create a draft for your project and ask your client to provide detailed feedback in a specific number of days. Once you get all questions, ideas, and comments, provide a new and better version. That is the end of the revision process.
Transparency on Revision Costs
This step is the most important step in the freelancing business. To avoid endless revisions, it’s vital to clearly define the number of revisions that are included in your fee. As a professional, you must know the complexity of your selected project. Based on this complexity, you can set the number of revisions allowed in both the initial estimate and the legal contract.
The more informative and transparent you are, the less confused your customers will be. If you are clear and diligent from the start, there will be fewer conflicts and misunderstandings throughout the project.
Revision or Extra Work?
Revisions are a part of your project, but not extra work. Therefore, it is important to determine when the changes are additional work for you. In every project, there are two types of revisions, minor and major. For instance, in designing, alteration of text phrase is a minor change, while moving texts and photos require layout changes that is a major change.
You must clarify major changes to your client and decide how you bill these types of revisions: flat fee or hourly rate. Once you have decided which minor or major revisions will cost more, you should add them both in the initial estimate and legal document.
Open and Real-time Communication
In every business transaction, communication is vital. To avoid revisions, it would be best to keep your customer informed about every process of your project. By doing this, you can apply revisions before even completing the project. In addition, if your client is aware of the incremental process of your project, there will be less misunderstanding and confusion about the project.
For instance, once you receive your client’s feedback on the first draft, you can send them an email with the subject, “first revision completed out of four,” and then apply necessary changes based on their ideas and comments. Investing your time in this process can help you manage your revisions and the structure of your work.
There are great tools available for project tracking such as Checc, Trello, Asana and Monday.com.
Show Flexibility and Goodwill
In your business, your goodwill is one of the most valuable assets. It’s important to show your flexibility and goodwill to your clients to create a better relationship. Most customers out there are nervous about selecting the right professional, one who will follow the deadline and deliver the best quality work. If a client does not trust you, you won’t be able to work smoothly.
Therefore, it is your job to create trust and better relations with your client. You must show that you are working with them because of your goodwill and flexibility. If you focus on chargeable time, your customer will think your primary concern is not their needs but the money. Therefore, offer some non-billed minor revisions to create long-lasting goodwill.
Take Accountability for Mistakes
Most freelancers and designers don’t accept their own mistakes. Sometimes, you misinterpret what your client is expecting. Often, it is hard to explain your preferences and visual tastes just by using words. Therefore, if your project does not meet the expectations of your clients, simply make an apology and offer some additional non-billed revisions to protect your goodwill.
Accepting your mistakes in the business world is a costly and hard lesson, but this lesson has hundreds of benefits. In our experience, a project fails or succeeds on how much attention, care, and time we give to the process. This step is crucial and can save a lot of heartache and hours down the line.
Read Your Clients
It is important to read your clients. Sometimes, no matter how much you struggle, you just can’t create a better relationship with your client. They could be disrespectful, micro-managing, over-controlling, or they could just have a different vision than that you interpreted. Instead of wasting your time on the wrong clients, you must invest your time in finding clients that also work with you.
Some freelance designers who work with difficult clients that don’t share the same vision, just for the sake of money, don’t find their work enjoyable and meaningful. Cut your losses early and invest your time and efforts in cultivating strong relationships with clients who respect your work. In terminating the contract, avoid phrases like “bad taste” and use sentences like “creative differences.”
A good designer and creative director can handle both business and creative sides. To thrive as a successful businessman, you must provide excellent customer service by never ignoring your clients’ requests and concerns. First, acknowledge their opinions, and if you think their suggestions are bad for their business, state the essentials and try to come up with a compromise.
Remember that a little change can lead to more. Sometimes, you need to be firm with your clients. For instance, if a client asks for a website and suddenly thinks an extra ‘Testimonials” and “About Us” option would be fun, you should hold your ground. Any request outside the original project is not a revision. You have every right to refuse to apply those changes unless they pay some extra fees.
Escaping the Never-ending Revision Cycle
Creating a better and healthy relationship with your client is important for you and your business. However, that doesn’t mean you should provide endless revisions on a single project. If there are some changes your clients want, they should pay some extra fees. To save yourself from too many revisions, we recommend signing a contract before starting the project and clearly defining a fixed number of revisions that are allowed in a specific project.