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I’m a freelancer and entrepreneur.
And many of you know that just a few years ago, I also took a desk job.
So I have a unique perspective on working with clients.
Half the day, I work for clients.
The other half, I am the client.
So it’s awesome.
And a couple weeks ago, I was working as the client and had hired a video editor to cut a TV commercial for me.
After a few days, he sent me the first draft.
It was mostly great.
Here’s where the trouble began.
There were certain things about the project that only I understood: certain obligations we had, certain legal necessities, and junk like that.
So, I sent a very short email with 3 simple and quite reasonable changes back to the editor.
(Remember, I also live on the end of receiving revisions and edits from clients, so I know how to handle the requests.)
The following is a paraphrase of his response to me:
1. On [request #1], I’m just not sure the public is going to notice the difference. It’s not really worth the hassle, so we won’t be making that change.
2. As for [request #2…a grammar mistake], most people read those two words similarly. I don’t think it’s worth the re-render to edit the text.
3. And [request #3] simply can’t be done. (I assure you, it could be. -Preston)
Now guys, this may sound like a rant.
And it is a little.
But now I’m writing as a blogger who works with amazing creative professionals every day.
Please, please, please tell me this isn’t how you treat your clients.
Should the creative professional make suggestions if the revisions don’t match industry recommendations?
Can the client and creative engage in a healthy conversation about whether or not the revisions are based on solid information?
But should the creative outright tell their client it just can’t be done, won’t matter, or is “too much hassle”?
And I dare say any creative person that treats their clients like that won’t make it too far.
Some advice for outspoken creatives
I’ll be the first to admit: I’m outspoken.
No one ever has to ask my opinion, because they know they’re getting it whether they like it or not.
Am I nice?
But am I opinionated?
For those of you who are like me and always have to share their opinion (and enjoy being right), here are a few tips for dealing with clients (especially when they ask for revisions you may not agree with).
How to respond to client revision requests
1. First, don’t tell them they’re wrong first off.
Take time first to empathize with them. Say things like “I see what you’re saying” and “I understand why you feel like we need to change that.”
2. Never say “but.”
If you start off with a nice phrase like “I see where you’re coming from on that” and then immediate say “but” afterward, you might as well be telling them their opinion doesn’t matter. Instead, validate their opinion (see step 1) and then offer your opinion in addition.
Try something like “I see what you mean about making that logo bigger. In my experience, leaving more white space not only looks more professional, but makes the logo more legible.”
3. Ask them “what do you think?”
Just because you have a different opinion about something, and just because you’ve done this before doesn’t make you the end-all know-it-all on what’s best for your client.
Sometimes, their dealing with legalities you don’t understand. Sometimes it’s all about office politics or some sort of extensive customer research they’ve done. Sometimes, in fact many times, they just know more about their business than you do.
So, instead of giving in entirely (one extreme) or demanding they give in to you (the other extreme), engage in a healthy conversation about the pros and cons of making the change.
4. Don’t be afraid to give in.
This is not about your pride.
This is about getting the best results possible for your client.
And sometimes good results come when the client is satisfied with the work (whether you think it’s perfect or not). So don’t feel like you’ve lost the battle by ultimately having to make the revisions you disagree with.
You’ve won because your goal, at the end of the day, is to provide quality work for your client.
If they’re happy, you should be happy. (Of course, I have to take my own advice here, too.)
Am I completely off my rocker?
So be honest with me, am I completely crazy here?
Did I miss the mark?
Because, speaking from a client’s point of view, I feel like every freelance designer, videographer, programmer, developer, writer, etc. needs to hear this message.
If you agree, will you please comment and let me know? And if you truly agree, please do me a favor and help spread this message via twitter, Facebook, linkedin, etc.
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