I often see offers that involve a long term relationship. Let us suppose I commit to a contract like that and then, after a few days / milestones, realise that the client has unrealistic expectations and the work involved is too much / the earnings not worth it. So I decide to break the contract. Will this affect my stats negatively?
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Polyniki V wrote:
Will this affect my stats negatively?
That depends on whether you have been paid and what feedback the client leaves you.
Polyniki V wrote:
Let us suppose I commit to a contract like that and then, after a few days / milestones, realise that the client has unrealistic expectations and the work involved is too much / the earnings not worth it.
The time to determine that is before accepting a contract.
Hi Petra, thanks for helping out. But how would you determine if the job is really worthwhile before actually starting to work on it? What if there are unexpected technical issues or the client starts asking for this and that little extra? They may say "our other contractors make X USD per hour" and you realise that you are just not as fast / good?
Can you please explain how the stats will be affected depending if you have been paid or not? What if you have been paid a milestone and walk out afterwards?
You're a freelancer; not a soothsayer. You cannot always know ahead of time if you have a new client who will change their expectations once they have you on the hook.
In my experience, this is not so common with hourly contracts. "Want me to do a lot more work than we originally agreed to, Mr. Client? No worries, mate. I can put in those extra hours for extra pay." Sometimes they agree to the extra budget; sometimes they don't. But I haven't told them, "No."
With fixed rate projects, your best protection is to make sure the client has agreed to clearly defined milestone deliverables and timing before agreeing to a contract. If the client is obviously elusive in setting well-defined tasks before the contract is agreed to, they may be dishonest or just not know much about what they are asking you to do. Those are both situations that can cause problems for you once the contract starts.
Don't let too much focus on a client's eventual feedback and your JSS outweigh what you know is outside the bounds of the project you have agreed to. I don't mind throwing in a little extra work for a good client, but I will almost always agree to the extra work as long as the budget for the job is increased as well. Sometimes you might prefer to just say, "No." In a couple of cases I have closed out projects early when a client has been entirely unreasonable - I'm not so focused on the possibility of their negative feedback as I am on the aggravation these clowns bring to the table. Life is too short.
I recommend you document such clients' demands on the Upwork message board. Even if they communicated their unreasonable demands via email, phone or Skype, send them a message on the project message board re-stating what they've asked for and telling them your response. Always be prepared for disputes with unreasonable clients - memorializing unreasonable client demands may work in your favor if it comes to mediation or arbitration.
And don't hesitate to give clear and honest feedback on the client when the time comes, so other freelancers will know what they're in for.
Client ratings aren't nearly as important to clients as the JSS is to freelancers, but Upwork says it does keep track of which clients regularly leave negative reviews for their freelancers. And at some point those clients' feedback for their freelancers is excluded from consideration in that client's freelancers' JSS scores.
amazing answer, very helpful! But I am also thinking about the possibility that the client has done nothing wrong, that maybe I realise I thought I would be much faster / the job would be easier. Is there a right way to walk out, or am I really on the hook because I overestimated myself?
That happens, Polyniki.
If you made an honest mistake in over-estimating your skills or under-estimating the scope of work, be honest about that with the client - immediately.
Tell them your concerns and see what they say. Without knowing any details, I would confess to the client that what they are asking me to do is different than my original understanding, or now that I am actually working on the project I realize I cannot do it to the quality they have every right to expect.
Maybe there is a portion of the project you can do. If you and the client agree there is not, tell them you think it's best if they close the project and find the right freelancer. If you have billed them for any time on an hourly basis, offer to reimburse that - if you don't think you earned it.
If this is a fixed price contract and you have not submitted any work for payment, the client has lost nothing more than a little time and effort.
These things happen. A good client will respect your honesty. A different kind of client may not, but that's not something that should prevent you from doing the right thing - immediately.
I know this doesn't help you if you're already in the situation, but in the future it would be wise not to commit to a long-term gig until you have tested the waters.
I am not in this situation, quite the opposite actually and very happy about it. But I do see some offers now and then that I am interested in, but I can't really estimate the effort involved. So how would you properly test before actually accepting an offer from the client, especially if it is a long-term project and they need to give you access / setup an account for you and train you?