The Single Freelancer Policy that Saves Your Soul

istock_exhaustion“Mmm… That’s not really what I’m looking for. Let’s revise this and give it another shot, okay?”

Usually, a revision request is perfectly fine. It’s normal and part of the job, in fact. Unless you have special powers or a crystal ball, you can’t read other people’s minds. Getting it right 100% of the time on every first shot just doesn’t happen.

That’s why revision policies are important. You need to clearly convey to your clients that you have some form of guarantee for their satisfaction, and you also need to make sure that you protect yourself.

Doing away with revision policies is just asking for trouble. You need a policy that clearly outlines your boundaries and limits the lengths you’ll go to for achieving client satisfaction.

Yes, sooner or later in your freelancing life, there will be someone who isn’t going to be satisfied. That person will ask for a revision, even maybe two. Or three. Or four or seven or twelve or whatever number it takes before you fall down dead from exhaustion or go insane while screaming for the torture to stop.

(Not good, that.)

You eventually hit on a client who will squeeze you for everything you’re worth, wringing you dry until the very last ounce of creativity you might have ever had in your life has dried away and not even the husk of its meniscus remains.

You will one day have a project that you pray for to end, to go away, and you will desperately wish for a dawn where the sun actually comes up and shines on you instead of yet another refusal slamming down onto your head with gloomy darkness.

You might think I exaggerate, but I’m not playing this one up in the least. Being revisioned to death is a painful, agonizing, slow journey. Ask anyone who’s been there – and I guarantee you will find freelancers who have.

Don’t fret. The good part is that you’ll come back to life. Freelancers are made of bone, steel and sinew, after all. And most clients are pleasant to work with – quiet fair about revisions indeed. You may not land on a client who revels in revisions for months, or even years.

Make no mistake, though, that soul-sucking day will come – unless, of course, you protect yourself against it.

Some freelancers believe that they shouldn’t stop working until the client is completely, totally, 100% satisfied. That’s a commendable philosophy and truly a nice idea. But what do you do when you start to work with a person who doesn’t know what they want, can’t take a decision, doesn’t care about other people, or enjoys the feeling of domination, condescension and control so much that satisfaction lies in grinding the freelancer to dust?

Nothing less will make them a happy customer.

Screw that, I say.

A revision policy has a clear goal and purpose that offers benefits to both freelancer and client. It’s protection for both parties, not just one. Here are just a few:

Benefits to Freelancers

  • No more endless revisions and projects that won’t die. You have clear limits that indicate the boundaries of the project.
  • No more vague direction from clients. Limiting revisions forces customers to provide clear feedback and think about what they want.
  • No more unpaid hours, financial losses or energy drains. Your projects remain profitable, and you’re fairly compensated for the time you put into them.

Benefits to Clients

  • Clients have a clear outline of boundaries so they know exactly what they get for their money and what they don’t.
  • Clients have a guarantee that if they don’t like the work (it happens), they can ask for changes or even something new.
  • Clients understand that they can provide direction, guidance and suggestions to make the project a winner.

The revision process is a necessary one, but that doesn’t mean it has to be tedious, frustrating, life-sucking or endless. With a good policy in place and a clear vision of how it helps you provide better work for your client, you can make sure that your revision process is proactive and smooth.

Do you have a revision policy in place? What are your boundaries? What do you offer clients? Where are your limits? Can you think of other benefits revision policies offer to either you or your clients?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.