I estimated X hours. As I showed them the progress, they started adding more things to do that was outside what was expected or was not portrayed in the beginning.

I asked for 50% of the original estimate (tiny budget) but they want all the features that was added along the way until even half of the agreed upon payment that was supposed to have been made earlier on.

I thought if they can't even pay 50% of the budget when I reached alpha stage, and that they are wanting all these extra features, I simply must bill them for more. I billed them for another X hours including the extra time that went in implementing their other requests.

What should I do at this point? It's likely that this client will walk away and probably attempt it with another freelancer. I've decided it's not worth it and other they agree to the new X hours and allow me to finish.

It's super complicated now. I totally regret doing jobs on these freelancer websites.

3 Answers 3


You're a victim of scope creep. It's not uncommon, it happens to many, including yours truly.

Possibly the ideal way to head it off before it happens is to create a mutually-agreed upon list of features for the current project or iteration, and set it in stone. Add requests for additional features or changes to a list and revisit that at a later point. Focus on the current scope first. If the client must have the feature/change done sooner, then discuss the possibility of trading off a feature. If not, then work on a revised time/cost budget. Ideally the details of how this work are built into your contract. If not, get an agreement in writing.


It seems that you need to formalize your change-request process a bit better. Yes, allow the client to make changes along the way. But if you are charging 50% up front for the initial project, generate an estimate on the change requests also and charge 50% on the change request before starting any work. You have to be fair to yourself. If a client figures out that you're not going to establish good boundaries about the work you're doing for them, then they will drive you into the ground. There's no reason to be too upset about it, just handle your business better up front so you won't be disappointed in the end.

  • do you mean to charge 50% for the originally agreed upon specification and also charge extra for "future changes"?
    – KJW
    Feb 7, 2014 at 3:12
  • What I mean is that when the customer asks for changes, charge them the 50% (for the additional work) right away rather than waiting until the end.
    – Xavier J
    Feb 7, 2014 at 4:56
  • yes. it seems my mistake was holding off on asking for the 50% immediately when they began scope creeping. Now it really feels like they are holding the money hostage.
    – KJW
    Feb 7, 2014 at 5:43

I'd firstly say: don't do cheap underpriced projects!

Now, you conduct seems OK. I would do the same. You agreed on one things, they started adding new features without wanting to compensate extra work, so it's smart you froze the work. Don't abandon the client, just keep asking him will you complete the project or not. Once he pays one milestone, go to another, and so on. If the sum is so low and the whole project is one milestone, then simply ask them to pay you 50% or some percentage. This will show you how fake or right they are.

Did you make official proposal by making a list of features and giving your price for that specific list? If not, then it's your flaw and you can't blame the client for that (not saying you have to work for free). For us "share content to 5 social services" means implementing 5 SDKs and to the client it means "adding 5 texts share and binding the text to sharing in max 1 hour".

  • so what I did was tell them I need at least the 50% for the work completed to date and that I will not continue until it is received, I froze it. Then I told them the next set of changes will be done for the remainder amount. For the new set of changes, I told them it's going to cost X hours. It was a fixed project but I did clearly mention a time hour estimate. I simply gave them another time estimate and the cost. The final cost is now 2x the original budget, but I figured with all these changes I'm going to insane working for free. I've decided to do or die with this client. Lesson learned.
    – KJW
    Feb 7, 2014 at 3:11
  • You must have an upfront in fixed priced projects. This shows how serious a client is. Unless you're dealing with old client or some reputable clients (many reputable odesk clients will not give you up front money). all other clients should show you as well how serious they are.
    – Peter MV
    Feb 7, 2014 at 7:19

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