ohhhh indecisive clients. today we address this question: “what do you do when the client keeps changing their mind?  how do you charge for multiple never-ending revisions? or put a limit to it?”

two weeks ago when i briefly talked about a contract for payment reasons, i brought up being up front with your client about your expectations and theirs in the beginning. if i’m charging a flat fee i state in my contract how many revisions that gives them. if the project needs revisions after the included three rounds then i charge them hourly to finish the job. most of the time i can tell if the client is going to be wishy-washy and needy from the get-go. i charge them hourly so i’m not over worked and under paid at the end.

tip: if you’re charging hourly ask your client if they have a budget. send them a notice when you’ve reached 50-75% of it to avoid an uncomfortable situation. it will kick them in the rear to give you better feedback and make decisions faster.

i used to be a giant pushover and just keep doing revision after revision for my clients. which was really nice for them…not so nice for me. but hey, you have to learn from your mistakes. now i make it very clear from the beginning what the client is paying for, how many revisions they get etc…to avoid this very subject. here is a screenshot of a contract of mine:

and being upfront about this also helps them make up their mind a little easier. if you give them endless revisions they are never going to know how to choose! do a couple of rounds and give them all you got. sure throw in a couple extras if you feel the need and they won’t take you too much time. if a client goes over the number of revisions agreed upon, then I usually charge per hour after that.

watch out! if you don’t take this advice you might get a client knocking on your door expecting lots of changes 3 weeks after you thought you were done with a project. and it’s not like i am mrs. scrooge! if it’s a tiny change then of course i’ll do it. i just try to keep my boundaries and stick to my contracts now so I can avoid awkward situations.

(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are here. if you have a question you want answered, just leave us a comment in the box with it!)


Add your own

    Daria says:

    That is an amazing topic to discuss. Thanks for sharing

    Tiffany says:

    Great advice! People will totally walk all over you if you let them. I have different packages on my site that let’s people know from the beginning how many revisions are included, and it’s restated again in the contract. If they don’t need a package, I state revisions in their proposal for work before the contract. Clarity is golden! 🙂

    Ah, I really love this advice column. It’s so relatable, even though I do art. I always stare at the illustrations forever and finally start reading.

    smart idea on having a number of revisions. my office doesn’t do that, so sometimes the sales people have had me do 5+ new concepts for a single client. “it just doesn’t feel right”. woof.

    Sarah says:

    fantastic advice! I tend to just give in and do something again, but this encourages be to be more firm and direct!

    dee says:

    once again…you’ve nailed it ladies! great advice, on a tricky topic.

    i love this column! a question i would love to see answered: how do you turn down friends you’re not interested in collaboration with? more specifically, friends that want to start being “creative”, because they’ve seen the work you’re doing? thx!

    gabrielle says:

    great advise, as always. also, LOVE the illustrations… i can definitely relate 🙂

    kiersten says:

    i love this column! a question i would love to see answered: how do you turn down friends you’re not interested in collaboration with? more specifically, friends that want to start being “creative”, because they’ve seen the work you’re doing? thx!

    Natasha says:

    Omgosh, this is so true, I had a client and I did endless revisions , your right bri you learn from your mistakes. Never again will that happen

    Avery Cox says:

    Grrreat advice! Uggg working for nothing is the worst, and getting taken advantage of is even worse than worst.

    Elizabeth says:

    I send these advice posts to my freelancing hubby every time he complains about a needy client or a project that never seems to end. He is no longer doing flat rate and is charging hourly which has made him a much happier guy! Thanks 🙂

    Anni says:

    I have a question (for a column if you have time!) for you and Katie, Bri:

    how do you handle your correspondence with clients, especially initial inquiries? I have a hard time writing a response that feels personal enough (and less like a canned email) when I don’t know much about the prospective clients.


    Ruth says:

    perfect timing for this column! i am just starting to put together my first graphic design contract. any suggestions on where to look for inspiration?

    Mélanie says:

    So far, I’ve been working without contracts. I’ve trusted the clients i’ve worked with and for the most part, I’ve been doing ok without it.

    BUT. I have had 1 very bad experience due to not having that contract handy and signed. I’m wondering if you could talk about contract writing? I have a lawyer friend I’m going to speak to about this but wondered what your general advice would be? Thanks ladies!

    Cobb says:

    i’m lovin this column lately – keep it up! these topics are immensely helpful to us creative types:) the last couple illustrations had me snickering, thanks!

    Jasmine says:

    oh man! I’ve been dealing with this big time this week… I have a realllllly illogical client and they keep wanting to change things… argh. So hard. I like being totally up front, definitely helps in the long run

    love the post. it feels so good to realize you’re not alone in the journey of navigating a creative freelance career (when most of the time i feel like i’m crazy). i’m an interior designer in los angeles & often relate to the ‘topics’ you guys talk about – so i wanted to let you know that i wrote about your ridiculously, awesome advice column on my new blog. thanks for the (good) girl advice. : )
    hope to make it to one of your next blogshops out here.


    gloria waters says:

    you guys always pick just the right topic to talk about. thank you so much for all the helpful advice. would you ever consider posting a contract template?

    Alison says:

    I always appreciate your advice column. As someone who figured out graphic design was my passion mid-career I feel like there’s so much that I don’t know, and so much that is just straight-up unknown no matter how hard I google it. So, thanks, and please keep answering the questions that I don’t even know I should be asking.

    Mei says:

    I LOVE your blog and the advice column especially is always super helpful! What would your advice be for designers looking to start their own blog?

    Burkha says:

    wise words dear! I deal with this kind of problems every time and it is hard for me to be firm….I´m getting there though.
    Thanks for the advice!

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