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Limiting Revisions

On a fixed-rate job, what is the most polite way of getting the client to limit the number of revisions? How would you word it gently?


I never had this problem before until now, and I do not want to turn the client against me, if you know what I mean.



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This is an important skill to develop.


I don't think I did it well the first couple of times that I ran into this.


But my clients now know that when I saw something is done, it is done. They pay, and then we can move on.


But you definitely want to do it tactfully.


Try something like this:

"John, I really like the ideas for the changes you suggested. I would love to work on this. I need to be a little bit careful about oDesk's guidelines regarding not doing free work and not working outside the scope of the original project description. If you could process the payment for the current milestone and close that out, I can work on the next step in the project, including the latest changes you sent. If you would like to work on this in a more flexible way that doesn't require setting up separate milestones or contracts, I would be happy to work on this as an hourly contract, which would give you the freedom to make unlimited changes and we wouldn't need project descriptions. You can just send me notes and I'll work on this in any way you like."


Anyway... something like that.


But, Brenda, you need to understand that SOME clients are NOT appropriate for Fixed Rate contracts. Some do not understand the concept. Doesn't mean they're bad clients. They just can't handle a fixed rate contract, but they can often be GREAT hourly rate clients.


If you have a client who doesn't understand that when a fixed rate project is finished, it is time to pay the contractor and set up a new contract... then it means the client should never be worked with on a fixed rate contract. Really, if the client asks for more than 10 minutes of extra work once a project has been finished, then you're very likely dealing with an hourly-only client.

Hey, thanks, Preston! That is excellent wording, and will definitely try that next time.



What I usually do is I tell the client the scope of work including how many revisions they would get.


I do this before the project starts.


There's a thing called "Round Of Revision", I explain to them the meaning of this, so they can set their expectations.


I normally give 1-2 free revisions, after that I charge them with reasonable rates, depending on the complexity of the revisions. 


I inform them that they would get charged after the free revision, I also do this before the project starts.


Hey, Preston. I've bookmarked your reply. It sholud be as a part of freelancer guidelines on oDesk. Thanks!

Just my 2cents,


I'm a product designer, so the results of my work are heavily geared toward a specific set of functionalities.  In order to avoid endless revisions in projects, I've adopted (over the last decade or so) a habit of being VERY specific in my proposal process.  I outline each deliverable based upon it's functionality.  Each deliverable is considered complete when it meets the description as outlined in the proposal that the client accepted.


Additionally, I tend focus heavily in the beginning on visual and aesthetic elements until the client is satisfied with the overall "look and feel" of the product, BEFORE focusing on the mechanical/electrical/functional elements.  Basic concept generation (sketching and modeling purely for the purpose of visualization) is MUCH faster than "engineering first and visualizing later").  This ensures that I'm clear on what the client expects to "see" before I spend an inordinate amount of time "engineering" something that doesn't fit into the clients pre-imagined perception of the product.


I personally believe that a VERY clear, well thought-out (and defined in writing) set of deliverables is the MOST important element in avoiding a "revision trap".  It's on you as the contractor to clearly spell-out what you are, and are NOT willing to provide with respect to a set of deliverables.


I've attached a set of deliverables on a recent proposal.  You'll notice the VERY specific text at the bottom ("additional designs may be provided upon request, but will incur a scope/fee increase").  This clearly says to the client that I will be providing a functional design as outlined in the preceeding list - and if for some reason they are not happy with the design, there MAY be additional fees to redesign it.  This leaves it up to me, depending upon the level of work required based on their requests as to charge more, or not.


Again, just my 2 cents.



Community Member

I usually lean towards hourly contracts for complex projects. 


If I do accept a flat rate project it's because:

(1) Previous client who I trust to not be crazy with repetitive back and forth or numerous revisions

(2) Clearly defined scope of project that is in writing with the client noting all details