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January 24, 2013
I have a question about communicating with clients when the project is fairly large and requires substantive editing. I'm working on a proposal, so it's not just straight text--there are a lot of headers, formatting, bullet lists, etc. I am working virutally (and communicating via e-mail) because the client is in another state, so we can't meet in person to review drafts on paper, and address any issues line-by-line.
There are areas of the project where I have needed guidance, because the researched material is not mine. That is, I don't quite know how to determine what are the most important things to keep, and which to cut. So for these areas, I have asked for quick notes/comments from the client to help me figure out the order of things or what can be cut, if needed.
The client has not really responded to many of my questions with more than 1-sentence phrases, leaving me to guess. The client seems to have the idea that she's paying me to just "handle it." I work best when we can collaborate and agree on what is being done, because I know that it saves time in the end.
And then it happened: I made a guess as to what to rearrange/cut, and then the client didn't like it, so I had to put it back the way it was, but then after that I still had to re-do the sections because--suddenly--she came up with a completely new idea about what she wanted.
By the way, we had managed to connect by phone a few times, but it didn't result in any clearer understanding. We seemed to be speaking Greek to each other.
Am I crazy to be frustrated about this? Is it normal to have to spend extra time pulling teeth just to get a handle on the client's needs? If I barrel through and just do something, after getting little feedback, only to be met with "this needs more work," is it right to cut off my services and ask for payment after a certain number of hours are spent? (This was a fixed-price job, but I know when I've gone into the red.)
February 11, 2010
That's what many clients expect. They're hiring you because you're a professional in a specialty area who can do something they can't do, don't want to do, or don't have time to do. You need to be able to work in a way where you can "just handle it" most of the time.
And frankly, some clients just suck at communicating their needs. That's why the initial interviews / questions are so important. Get as much information as possible out of them up front, and it can save a lot of headaches later.
You're not crazy to be frustrated. It sounds like this is one of those cases where the client wasn't clear enough early on. And changing what they want after the fact is never okay (and should always incur additional fees). That's scope creep.
As for making decisions on your own though, that's a part of being an independent professional. It's a part of our jobs, plain and simple. Sometimes clients will like those decisions. Sometimes they won't. You can minimize endless edit requests by putting a limit on them up front. For example, I only allow 2 edits within my advertised rates. They can't keep nitpicking after that. They can't pull in 5 other people to give feedback and separate edit requests. And if they do want more (which I don't have to provide), they're charged quite a bit for it because I charge my normal copyediting rates (which is basically a 50% increase over their original planned budget). If you don't have a clear policy like that yet, this sounds like a great time to start.
January 24, 2013
February 11, 2010
They receive one completed document from me, regardless of length. They can ask for a round of changes if they have a problem with the material I send. I make those changes. Then they get to make suggestions / requests one more time on the new version they receive. And again I make the edits. (In most cases there either aren't any edit requests or they're fairly minor). After that point, they don't get to request more changes unless they're willing to pay an extra editing fee.
If they want "edits" that are actually a change in scope over the original project, they usually get billed for an entirely new project (or billed for separate edits depending on how big the changes are). You're only required to give what they asked for. If they change their mind about what they want after the initial work is completely, they have to pay for that as the separate project it really is.
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