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I have had a client for almost a year now. She is a nice person but the problem is she never settled down on what she needs; every time she asks for something, we agree on a fee and I start working. After I finish she sends me a minimum of 3 pages of modifications (actually started from scratch), and more than 8 emails a day asking for explanations and help she could get by googling it.

When I send her instruction files, she replies with many questions before she even opens the file and reads it.

I have explained to her many times that she has to be sure about the text and images she sent me before I start working but she never followed the advice and she can't afford extra charges every time she changes her mind about one of her website pages.

I just tried to leave her project then she begged me to continue. How can I handle that situation without wasting many hours working for free?

  • That's fun when that happens. :) We've had some customers we were glad to see go as well. You need to have a dotted line that is legally binding, so when the job is finished as per the contract, you're done! Sometimes it's easier said than done, and in cases like this one I believe that whatever you do won't be enough and she'll probably give up on you at some point [sigh of relief?]. P.S. "Come" has only one m, and for some strange reason, all of its conjugations reflect that. So, "newcomer", "coming", "comes", and "cometh" all have one "m". Don't ask me why. – Kai Maxfield Mar 4 '16 at 0:53
  • Did you already see this question? freelancing.stackexchange.com/questions/616/… – Kai Maxfield Mar 4 '16 at 1:21
  • I usually set 3 free set of changes. After that, all changes are charged. So my clients think carefully what changes they will list into those 3 sets. – Peter MV Mar 4 '16 at 9:04
  • I fixed it @KaiMaxfield, Thanks for noticing it. – newComer Mar 5 '16 at 0:22
  • No problem, I love your profile picture! – Kai Maxfield Mar 5 '16 at 0:56
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Since you've had the client for a year, the way you interact is unlikely to change. Especially when you directly enable it by accepting to do free work.

You need to decide whether working for this client in the manner you describe would be OK if you were paid for 100% of your time. I'm assuming it would be.

It seems you are working on a never-ending sequence of smaller fixed-price projects. This obviously needs to stop, as fixed-price only works if the target is not constantly moving. You'll have to change the general terms from fixed-price to an hourly rate.

Initially, the client will be skeptical or downright refuse - to which your counterargument should be that due to the continuous scope-creep, any fixed price estimate from now on will include considerable 'financial padding' to minimize your risk. Insist on setting an hourly rate or massively increasing the fixed-price estimates.

In addition to getting paid, a fixed hourly rate could perhaps modify the client's approach to a more structured one - to the benefit of both parties.

And - if you don't already have it - get your general terms down on paper. No need to involve lawyers - but set the expectations of both parties on a single page. My experience is that clients tend to take documents they have signed more seriously - regardless of whether they are legally binding or not.

  • Thanks very much for your answer , as a freelancer working from a different country than my client I didn't think of a written contact before as there is no mean of enforcing it or do you mean to use it a guidelines only? – newComer Mar 4 '16 at 14:39
  • My experience is that clients (and people in general) tend to take documents they have signed more seriously - regardless of whether they are legally binding. – morsor Mar 4 '16 at 14:42
  • yes @morsor this is true, may be I need to come up with general terms to handle similar situations. – newComer Mar 4 '16 at 14:48
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You two need sit together, draw up a project specification and agree on price/rate. You both need to sign/accept it.

Any changes, explain there is a charge so she needs weigh up if its important to have these changes now or to compile them to a features list to be done at an agreed later time/date/rate.

Her time is expensive. So is yours. When she realises that changes cost, she'll learn to be more clear with her initial expectations.

Explain to her the headaches that you go thru - make clear that while you welcome the work, much time is wasted.

If she won't pay for modifications, then increase your rate based on the amount of time you think will be required to meet her expectations, revisions etc etc

Never say no to a customer - instead, just get more expensive. Let them decline your services, or let them pay for the stress/discomfort you must go thru to meet their requests.

Best of luck!

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If your client wants a relationship where she can feel free to call you whenever and make changes at-will, then your contract CANNOT be fixed price. You're going to have to go to hourly or you're going to shoot yourself in the foot because the scope isn't fixed.

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