• Advice

How to avoid lots of (unpaid) revisions

In my freelancing endeavors, I try to be the cool and breezy freelancer. I’m like, contract-shmontract, let’s just be cool man.

This of course works about ZERO percent of the time, because now I have put myself into a situation where I look like I don’t care about my time or rights (when in reality, I care a lot). And really, you should care. Time is money, and sticking up for yourself and what you deserve will not only make it easier to work with the same clients again, but also pave the way for other freelancers your clients work with to be treated more professionally going forward.

One of the big ways that freelancers have their time, energy, and patience taken advantage of is by not having a proper revision provision in each contract. It may seem like a tweak here and a edit there, however, too many revisions can cause major disruptions to your workflow and oftentimes leave you working for free.

How to avoid issues with revisions:

Depending on the scope of work, type of billing, type of work, etc…there are many different ways of protecting yourself against issues with revisions. However, no matter what kind of work you do, building an air-tight and job-specific revision clause into each contract will make it easier in the long run.

Even if you feel that your fee structure or scope of work is rock-solid at the beginning of a job, a client could (and will) at some point change what they want. At which point the client will usually assume that you want to work for free and that you pay your rent with smiles and high-fives.

The revision clause of your contract should more or less state the following:

1. Any changes to the scope of work will incur additional fees.

2. The amount for the base fees (whether it be per project, task or hour), how they will be billed, and when you expect payment.

3. How many rounds of revisions are included in the base fee and what constitutes a revision. For example, you may say that your fee includes two rounds of revisions (provided they don’t require work outside the original scope of work as previously defined), and that you reserve the right to decline, or charge additionally for anything beyond the scope of work.*

4. How any subsequent revisions will be billed and when you expect payment.

*Contract language will vary from project to project, however, our Contract Creator makes it painless to plug in the basics. For more specific contract examples, check out Docracy, which is a free collection of legal contracts of all shapes and sizes.

Hourly and fee-based projects should be treated essentially the same in terms of revision provisions. At the end of the day, the provision is in place to make sure that the client knows exactly how much work they can reasonably expect for the amount of money agreed upon.

Freelancers, what experience do you have with revision provisions in your contracts?

Ashlee Christian is from the north-side of Chicago and will never stop saying "pop" or eating pizza with a fork and knife, so please stop trying to change her. Follow her on Twitter @nomadnation