An interesting article at FreelanceFolder by Laura Spencer got me thinking about how to avoid getting stuck with what Spencer calls a “vampire client”. Spencer’s advice was sound, but how do you avoid getting to the stage where you need to take her advice at all?
What the article defines as a vampire client is someone who keeps demanding revisions and is seemingly unable to be pleased–and all that after demanding a reduction in your usual fee. Sounds unreasonable to us!
The first thing you can do to protect yourself from an unreasonable client is to build in some parameters into your work agreement. What’s that? You don’t have a work agreement with your clients? Change that immediately.
In your agreement, build in a standard fee (which you can change to offer discounts for your valuable clients). Don’t accept less than your standard fee without a good reason, but when you do, be sure you add some additional consideration for yourself into the deal. That consideration could come as a more forgiving (and convenient for you) deadline or other concessions.
Most importantly, restrict the number of revisions you will do as part of the project. Don’t commit yourself to unlimited revisions or you risk the vampire client scenario Laura Spencer warns about. You can sweeten the deal by adding a fee for all revisions beyond the agreed-upon number, and you should make that fee go up for every extra revision.
Finally, if you suspect a client will become a nightmare, give yourself some added protection and incentive up front by requiring a down payment. That way you can warn a client when their additional for-a-fee revisions are approaching unreasonable. “Are you sure you want another revision? You’ve already paid for X amount of them and the bill is getting pretty high.”
Freelance clients can be managed most effectively by building in these kinds of protections into the front end of your agreement with them. If you don’t have terms in writing, you are always vulnerable to the vampire client.