Please advise, what to do with this client comparing me to another freelancer mid-contract

Hi all, please give me some advise. I'm pretty new to this, although I've not slacked, reading everything I can and trying to learn from other's stories on here.


I have this client who, after I sent the draft for the 4th textile print they commissioned, said that they have another freelancer who gives the print to them in 3 different backgrounds (they mean colorways), and so (in their words) ''so I would like you to do that too.'' The thing is, I did say I charge a little extra for every colorway, at the beginning of the contract, in my very first message to them when I outlined our agreement. For all the past 3 prints, they never asked to do more than 1 colorway. And the way they said that I had to make these into 3 colorways like the other freelancer does is like they just want me to do that, no questions asked, because that's what the other one is doing and I should just take their word for it. To me, I am just not involved in what deal they have with the other freelancer, if there is even another freelancer. This same client has also been trying to get me to draw free clothing CAD flats for them and I've dodged those gracefully and professionally, in my opinion. But this situation has me stumped.


How can I say it in a way that would still be professional but firm. Should I say that, hey I did say before that addtl. colorway is priced $ each. How would I say that in a non-icky way? And should I even address that I have no involvement in their deal with the other freelancer? Just, how can I reply to this? I'm scared of a bad review as I am VERY NEW. Lol. But I also do not want to be the freelancer who just gives in to all the clients' whims, which affects how clients treat other freelancers, too.


"Hi Fred / Frannie,


Sure, that's a great idea and I'd be more than happy to produce it in pink / azure / dove grey as well, I'm sure it'll look great and will really work well with the Gizmowhatsit.


Each additional colour, as previously discussed, is $ XX, so to make life easier for you you can just make the next milestone $ X.XX to include the extra colours.


I can have them ready for you by Tuesday, will that work for you?


Have a great weekend and I look forward to the BlaBla,






Your client is quite new if I guessed correctly, so they need gently educating on what is and is not acceptable.


If they want extras they need to pay for them, or hire you on an hourly basis so it is their problem if they want X versions of the same thing as they are paying for your time.


There may not be any nasty intent here, or any attempt to take advantage. They may just be green and inexperienced and are being "trained the wrong way" by an over-eager other freelancer.


This need not be acrimonious or end badly, you can, if the above or something similar does not work, kindly and gently explain the concept of scope creep to them.


They may be as eager to "get it right" as you are and may well be really embarrassed by the way they are acting once it is pointed out to them (gently, kindly, in a completely non-confrontational manner)


PS: Lovely portfolio. Add some more!

Petra R:

Thanks so much for that! I used a combination of your and Cathleen's and Preston's advise and samples to respond to the client.


I agree with everything you said and definitely, I don't want this to end with any negativity at all. Yes the client is pretty new it might not have been malicious, but I'm new, too and I've already twice explained and asked her to pay for additional work, each time she asked for me to do a significant extra amount of work, which she refused to do. Add to that, that it was just really late at night last night when I got the client's message and it was after a long Friday (it was my birthday, lol), I couldn't trust myself to respond without any help from trusted people.


About my portfolio, thanks! I'll add more Smiley Very Happy


Mario C:

But then I'd have created another client who will expect to get additional work for free from freelancers here, even if that wasn't their intention.


Preston H:

Thanks for all your wonderful advise. I did everything you said, most helpful was the 'make your response nicer than it originally was.'


Cathleen C:

Thank you! I used yours in comination with Petra & Preston's comments.


Mariska P:

I really did get a lot of great comments here. So grateful. And thanks about my portfolio, I will add more!



By the way, I should add that from the weeks that I've been reading so many threads on the community, I feel like I sorta know Petra, Preston and Mariska (and others) as I keep seeing your great comments and advise on here. You all have different styles and they're great in their own way. That you've replied to me here feels like the elder council has bestowed upon me a great priveledge by imparting these nuggets of wisdom, lol.




Happy Belated Birthday Maria! 


Thanks for mentioning me along with Preston, Petra and others.. but I'm definitely not in their league and most likely never will be... but thanks! 🙂 


I love anything to do with fashion and art. I was always drawing caricatures of horses and people, loved making abstract art and made a lovely batik of one abstract. Looked amazing. Unfortunatelly I discovered boys and my creativity vanished. lol... I hope your career takes off so that you're in all the fashion mags in future! 

do what he  ask for and never work for him again

Petra's response is great.


Don't mention the other freelancer.

Don't compare yourself to the other freelancer.

Don't acknowledge that there are other freelancers working for the client using different types of contracts.


You have a contract in place. That is a contract between you and the client. That is what matters.


Keep your response as short as possible. Be professional. Don't send your response immediately. Read over things carefully. Make your response even nicer than it originally was.


There are things you can do and things you can't do. That is for you to decide, not the client.


You can't fly to the moon without a space ship, and you can't give away free colorways. So these things aren't really up for negotiation.


"I would be happy to provide the extra work for you, but it is outside the scope of my original proposal. To add the extra work, it will be $00.00." If fixed price job, "As soon as you add a milestone for that, and fund escrow, I can get to work on that." If hourly, "I estimate the extra work will take an additional Xhours."


I was reading the great comments you got for your question and I wasn't going to look at your profile, but when Petra complimented you I had to look.  It really is very nice looking! 




As others have stated, just politely inform the client that the extra colors will cost $x each. If the client is a professional himself, he will undoubtedly agree without complaint. 


A couple of factors you may want to take into consideration:


If the client is using your creative services, it may be likely that the client is just not knowledgable about how long such extra work takes. 


If the client has been altogether pretty good, and the extra work is really just a quick job, then you may want to consider just doing it at no extra cost. I know others on the thread may not agree, but sometimes you may want to consider the long term relationship over the individual job cost. 


I'm a CPA, and I do a LOT of company tax filings. If one of my tax clients comes to me during the year and asks for a CPA letter for a mortagage application (just an example) 95% of the time I do it for free, even though my clients do not expect it. The reasons are:


  1. It takes me no time at all (maybe 15 minutes)
  2. The success of my practice is tied to the success of my clients
  3. The financial benefit of maintaining a long term relationship is worth more to me than billing 15/60 worth of time.

Alternatively, if you feel like your client is an opportunist, then disregard the above. 

@Charlie E:


Thank you, you make some really good points. I was also thinking what if I just give it to them for the sake of a possible long term working relationship. However, they really haven't been a what you might say a good client. Maybe they're new at this but even then, where does anyone learn to make another person work extra for free?



They replied to my message and said this:

That their 'other designer' does it complimentary in 3 colours but fine they will pay me $XX (value of 2 extra colourways) but must make '3 extra colourways, not 2, thank you'.


Ok.. I guess I'm just going to do that. Lol. It's better than nothing. I'm thinking I won't reply to that anymore and just do the job and submit the drafts for review because I can't think of a good reply to that either. I don't like this comparing to other people thing. Almost done with the contract anyway, I can just let this slide and maybe be more firm if they ever want to work with me again. I'm not sure I want to work with them again, though.

Maria you already have a lot of excellent advice from within the Upwork "A Team".  I would add this observation to it from 20 yrs consulting experience:


Many clients, especially early in the relationship, will "throw you a few fast ones" to see how you will react.  Like a child with a parent, they may be simply testing you.  It's critical to be aware of this possibility and to enforce clear boundaries / guidelines.  Most will respond favorably and may even be relieved.  One of the most common tests is "hey I need you to do this or that for free".  


It's important to establish and protect your value and not allow a client to attempt to subtly take control of the rules governing the working relationship.  They may get away with that with employees so it could be out of habit; but it should not be allowed. Otherwise you are giving up one of the primary benefits of being a freelancer - the right to not be pushed around or taken advantage of.


The upside is, most clients will react favorably, and respect that you have rules and defend your boundaries. Including your rate for work performed.

Maria E wrote: I'm thinking I won't reply to that anymore and just do the job and submit the drafts for review because I can't think of a good reply to that either.

 Good thinking. Almost any response that would be obvious would include some kind of justification or explanation and I avoid those. I agree that there should not be any "Well the other freelancer...." stuff. If the other freelancer charged twice as much, would they insist on paying you double too? And if the other freelancer is soooooo awesome, they can give all the work to them, problem solved.


Justifying or explaining rates is a mug's game.


This has been a really interesting conversation and I see all sides. As a freelancer I also build in some leeway on fixed rate contracts for a bit extra, for a tiny bit of scope creep, for a touch of "over and above" - in the same way a normal business builds in some extra margin for the odd freebie.


It's part of the "underpromise and over-deliver" thing, and works great.


But personally I like to be the one suggesting or offering it. Or being able to answer "Oh don't worry, no charge, here you are!" when a client asks what I would charge extra for something that is quick, easy, and they ask nicely and offer to pay.


But I get stroppy when it's demanded or I feel manipulated.





@Maria E wrote:


I'm thinking I won't reply to that anymore and just do the job and submit the drafts for review because I can't think of a good reply to that either.


"Sorry, I don't negotiate rates. Three colourways cost $XXX, two cost $XX, and one costs $X. Please specifiy the number that fits your budget."


Almost done with the contract anyway, I can just let this slide and maybe be more firm if they ever want to work with me again.



References to the practices of other Upworkers are beneath notice, so ignore them. If pressed: "I can't accoount for the business practices of others, only my own."


Good luck,


Comparing me to some other freelancer would probably get that evil look behind the monitor from me too. I see it as a manipulation tactic. If the other guy was so great, what are you doing with me?


I'm kinda a no excuses type of person, so I'd probably reply with "My rate for x is y, and I'll be happy to do it if you need me to." I don't even acknowledge some stuff when people throw it at me. No excuses. 


For instance, I seem to be running into the free or cheap "test" clients lately. One guy wanted me to write two articles for half my normal rate, because it's a test. I told him I charge $.10/word and I'd be happy to do 1 test at that rate. I really don't want to get into debates with people, and if they want to go that route, I start ignoring them. Too many opportunities with other clients to waste that time.


Freelancing, is YOUR BUSINESS. This client, is not your boss or your employer. Both of you are equals on a job. This client is a manipulator. From the sound of her replies, she's gotten away with this for a long time. Will you also enjforce what she is doing?


Yes, you should reply back to this client -. exactly waht Douglas Michael wrote in bold, and stick to that. These are your prices, this is your work, and this is your time.


As for hoping to work with this client again. Do you really want to work with this kind of a client? Is this how you want to run your business? You yourself said this isn't a good client. You came on here, asking for advice. All replies said basically the same thing. You can take our advice, (and sorry if I'm sounding harsh) or you can give this client whateve she wants withouit charging for your work. If you can't stand up for your business now, what makes you think you will be able to do it later on down the road?


Just for your information. when this client quotes that another freelancer gave it to her for free etc. then let her go back to that other freelancer. That is a standard line that clients use to get free work. And in case you don't get it, There is NO other freelancer.


In my opinion, I think you should stick to the rate per colorway that you quoted originally. I agree that you should compromise and even sometimes do small amounts of work for free to maintain good client relationships, but in this case, the client seems to be a manipulator and you don't need to put yourself at a loss to please them. With people like that, you need to show some backbone. I also have a hunch that this "other freelancer" doesn't exist.

Marcia M wrote:I agree that you should I also have a hunch that this "other freelancer" doesn't exist.

 Interesting ...


I just looked again and the client shows as "2 hires" but the total spent is exactly what they paid Maria so far ...


So.... whatever that Wunderkind of "other freelancer" is doing (or not) they ain't getting paid for it................