Client keeps changing the brief :/

MartinsMillers

New Member
Hey guys.

I recently started freelancing. I did my first few gigs, and I noticed that all my projects had a common problem - I thought I understood the clients brief, but they kept changing it multiple times. I ended up spending extra hours second-guessing my clients and overproducing to make sure they are satisfied. Have you had similar issues? What do you do to make sure you align on the brief from the beginning? Maybe there are some online tools that I could use? I really need some help, otherwise, I won't be able to make any money. :)

Any advice much appreciated.
Thanks.
Martins
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
I don't get the issue of them changing the brief after I've started much, if at all, in all honesty....

I have my clients agree to a written breakdown of the brief along with the quote, so they know what I'm doing and what they're paying for. I also make it quite clear that any changes after agreeing to the quote and breakdown may incur additional costs, which I'd obviously inform them of (and in writing, with confirmation from client) before starting any changes to the brief.

Funnily enough, knowing their costs might go up seems to put people off changing the brief part way through... I do make sure to spend as much time as possible discussing the brief with the client to help prevent any misunderstanding.

I suspect the issue in your case is not just on the client side if I'm being honest so you might want to look at your 'brief breakdown process' at the same time.
 

MartinsMillers

New Member
I don't get the issue of them changing the brief after I've started much, if at all, in all honesty....

I have my clients agree to a written breakdown of the brief along with the quote, so they know what I'm doing and what they're paying for. I also make it quite clear that any changes after agreeing to the quote and breakdown may incur additional costs, which I'd obviously inform them of (and in writing, with confirmation from client) before starting any changes to the brief.

Funnily enough, knowing their costs might go up seems to put people off changing the brief part way through... I do make sure to spend as much time as possible discussing the brief with the client to help prevent any misunderstanding.

I suspect the issue in your case is not just on the client side if I'm being honest so you might want to look at your 'brief breakdown process' at the same time.
Thanks, Levi.
Awesome advice. Really helpful. I know that it's my problem more than my clients. As I'm just starting out, I haven't introduced a proper process in place.
What do you do as Step 1 of your brief breakdown process? Sometimes I've felt that some of my clients don't even know what they want and they use me to figure out themselves. I had a case where we agreed to go for a big and bold logo (we even agreed on references), but the client kept changing his mind and we ended up making logo using really classic typography. I know I can we more push and remind that it's not what we agreed on, but there should be a better way to do it, right?
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
I just bill them for work hours to date.
Then issue a new quote based on the new brief.

Typically, they revert to the original brief and finish out.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Usually, a flat fee per project too, but have hourly rate included for additional proofs/edits past 5 versions etc.
Also, I have a clause that says if they alter the brief drastically that an hourly fee applies up to the time of change request.
I use Harvest to track my time and send them a report with the invoice.
Work on the new brief won't start until invoice is settled.

Basically means it's an additional fee and you recoup your hours worked on it, but keep the original project fee going.

Doing it this way, I find people don't tend to stray from the original too much.


If it's queried, I would put it to them it's like getting a carpenter to install a wooden floor if they are halfway through and you decide you want to use a different wooden floor, they have to start again, and they would bill you for the first lay of the floor, and the 2nd.

Or a painter - if you don't like the colour of the paint you choose, then you would be billed for the paint bought, the labour, and to rebuy new paint, and start over.

It's the same thing really - plenty of analogies.
 

MartinsMillers

New Member
Usually, a flat fee per project too, but have hourly rate included for additional proofs/edits past 5 versions etc.
Also, I have a clause that says if they alter the brief drastically that an hourly fee applies up to the time of change request.
I use Harvest to track my time and send them a report with the invoice.
Work on the new brief won't start until invoice is settled.

Basically means it's an additional fee and you recoup your hours worked on it, but keep the original project fee going.

Doing it this way, I find people don't tend to stray from the original too much.


If it's queried, I would put it to them it's like getting a carpenter to install a wooden floor if they are halfway through and you decide you want to use a different wooden floor, they have to start again, and they would bill you for the first lay of the floor, and the 2nd.

Or a painter - if you don't like the colour of the paint you choose, then you would be billed for the paint bought, the labour, and to rebuy new paint, and start over.

It's the same thing really - plenty of analogies.
This is great. Many thanks. :) love your analogies. They make a lot of sense.
I'll definitely check out Harvest, as I really want to keep track on my projects.

Hank, what do you do as step 1 of your briefing process? What do you do to make sure you and client are on the same page early on? I feel that that's my biggest pitfall at the moment. They tell me what they want, we even agreed on references, but it goes sideways afterwards. For example, we agreed to make a big, bold and modern logo in the first briefing but we ended up making really classic logo. Now I know, that I should've used your carpenter analogy here. :) But how to avoid situations like this upfront?
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Typically i offer 2 or 3 concepts starting off and see what direction they want to go in.

I Do a lot of long document items. So I'll do a few double page spreads and maybe two types of infographic styles.

Once they pick, i tend to do 8 pages and have that approved.

Once it is approved I do all the rest the same way.


I usually have a concept fee billed separately.

When doing 3200 page book, it's important to have the layout agreed!
 
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