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Just curious how others deal with this situation

Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
1 of 13

I quite often get invitations that have deadlines that are far too short of a turnaround time, and the client's budget isn't enough that I would drop/postpone other client work to devote my entire next two weeks to a month to their project. I feel like I'm turning down a lot of work outright because the deadlines are just too unreasonable, and these are hard deadlines not set by the client, although the client really should have started a lot sooner so they could meet the deadline. 

 

Anyone else dealing with this problem? How are you addressing it? Besides just turning down the invitations, I mean. 

Community Guru
Jonathan H Member Since: Jun 19, 2019
2 of 13

Its not a problem i face personally, but short of turning the invitation down it seems the only other alternative is to talk with the client and discuss the terms to see if they have any flexibility - either in deadline date, or, in budget so you can charge enough to warrant the tight deadline.

Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
3 of 13

Jonathan H wrote:

Its not a problem i face personally, but short of turning the invitation down it seems the only other alternative is to talk with the client and discuss the terms to see if they have any flexibility - either in deadline date, or, in budget so you can charge enough to warrant the tight deadline.


The deadlines are not set by the client and cannot be changed. And my rate for last minute is double (sometimes more depending on how fast the turnaround is) which most of them cannot afford. 

Community Guru
Jonathan H Member Since: Jun 19, 2019
4 of 13

Your deadline IS set by the client - they may be constricted by other factors, but it is them that sets the deadline on your contract. If they cannot change that, then clearly there is nothing that can be done, the only other option is price - which you can discuss with the client, if they cannot aford your rates then they will have to look for another freelancer with rates that suit the budget and/or that can complete the work for the deadline.

 

I dont really see any middle ground here, if you are firm on price and timing and so is the client then just decline the invitations.

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
5 of 13

I encounter this regularly. My prospective clients do not have hard submission deadlines like yours do, but they often are up against timeline events that they don't control and/or are so intertwined with other teams' activities that adjusting target dates is all but impossible. I have found that even if all other work on my calendar can tolerate being put on hold and the client in question is willing to pay for my undivided attention, they are often not prepared to allocate their own undivided attention as needed. They simply don't understand what goes into getting their project done successfully, much less getting it done in fire-drill mode. Their lack of understanding and failure to plan are unfortunate. It's usually not worth letting that become an active problem on my plate.

Community Guru
Wendy C Member Since: Aug 24, 2015
6 of 13

In many cases it comes down to a client's willingness to collaborate within a near immediate time frame. Some are; others not. If the deadline is really tight it is up to the FL to lay out the strategy and tell the client what their role is in implementing it.

 

With some gigs tight time frames are understandable; for many others, its nothing but hot air on the client's part due to either not having gotten his/her act together earlier or ego.  Talking with them BEFORE taking on the job gives you ample insight in almost all cases.

Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
7 of 13
I pretty much always say it will take me this long and cost that much. If they can’t work with that then I don’t have to turn them down, they just go away on there own.
I don’t believe in negotiating quality and that is the only leeway you can give to make it faster or cheaper.
But it is not surprising this happens a lot because we are often called in to rescue a situation where someone thought they had it handled. I like helping people, a little too much, and I have to remind myself this is where I get into trouble, overcommitting to help a client in panic mode.
Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
BEST ANSWER
8 of 13

Amanda L wrote:

I quite often get invitations that have deadlines that are far too short of a turnaround time, and the client's budget isn't enough that I would drop/postpone other client work to devote my entire next two weeks to a month to their project. I feel like I'm turning down a lot of work outright because the deadlines are just too unreasonable, and these are hard deadlines not set by the client, although the client really should have started a lot sooner so they could meet the deadline. 

 

Anyone else dealing with this problem? How are you addressing it? Besides just turning down the invitations, I mean. 


Since I work at the end of the process, this describes a lot of the offers I get. For sure, I do edit things with short deadlines, but for some, I just have to tell people that there's no way I can do what needs to be done on time and for the budget they're offering. 

The reason clients have such short deadlines is often that they have no idea realistic idea about how long things take. Also, I find that a lot of people assume that if you've got professional skills in a particular area, you can necessarily do what you do quickly, regardless of the complexity. 

With anything written, I find that people fairly frequently skip research and thinking time in their estimates. 

How do I deal with this? I think this graphic has made the rounds before. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 12.10.45 PM.png

Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
9 of 13

Thanks all. I guess I was more just wondering if I'm the only one who often experiences this type of request or if it's a common client thing with others as well. I appreciate what Renata said about clients not understanding what goes into the process. I often do take on projects that require this tight turnaround, but those clients are typically well prepared and willing to pay the fee associated with needing something fast and good. 

 

I actually do teach grant workshops and provide resources to people to write their own grants, and so I frequently try to educate on the time it takes to prepare something compelling and that will ultimately be successful in winning funds. I have no problem not taking jobs if they can't afford my fee for such last minute work, but I was curious if others were having that request as often on here as I do. And I will clarify that it's predominantly an UpWork client issue that I find, my offline clients, perhaps because we network and get to know each other over a regular course of time, tend to be much more educated on the work I am providing for them and the amount of time I will need to accomplish such a task. 

 

Wendy said it aptly too that they don't understand the time THEY will have to put into a project. I'll give an example: an NIH R01 application takes me anywhere from 80 to 100 hours. That's my time. The client should expect to put in approximately 50 hours of time along with me. I know these figures from tracking with my current clients on how long it takes us. But that 50 hours on the client's part are to review drafts, yes, but also because they will have to take time to consider many questions about their project and communicate that information to me. There are also many parts that I can help them with but it's a collaborative process. It's very rarely a "here is my idea go write this grant proposal, come back when it's done" process. They HAVE to be involved in it. 

 

Thanks for the discussion, and if anyone else has experienced this in different ways, I'd love to hear it. 

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
10 of 13

Amanda L wrote:

I have no problem not taking jobs if they can't afford my fee for such last minute work, but I was curious if others were having that request as often on here as I do.


Since I sometimes work with students on thesis projects or early career researchers on grants and articles, I'm willing to entertain lower budgets, particularly if I like the research (in this case the payoff is that I get to read about some new thinking about something interesting). However, more often than not, clients across the board tend to underestimate the amount of work their projects involve by at least 50%. This is especially true for projects that involve complex subject matter. Having the extra issue of it being last minute just adds to that. 

I don't take as many of these kinds of projects  as I used to primarily because, in my experience, they're never just a little under budget for the amount of work they involve -- they're usually drastically underbudget for the amount of work they involve. 


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