As a session singer, I work with different clients on a daily basis. If all goes well, we both fully understand each other and the project’s goal. The tracks are submitted, there are no revisions, and everyone is happy. However, every once in a while that is not the case.
Every creative freelancer goes through this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a singer, painter, graphic designer, or basket weaver, we all have (or will have) a client who wants multiple edits. So, how do you provide multiple edits without compromising your creativity or tearing your hair out? Here are some tips!
How to Make Revisions for Clients:
1. Remember the End Goal
Your client hired you and (hopefully) paid you for your time. They are the ones using the final product, so at the end of the day, their opinions should be more important. I’ve had several clients rewrite verses I’ve written that seriously made me cringe. The words no longer made sense, didn’t fit musically, or were just (in my opinion) awful. But you know what? Oh well, because it’s their song! I will gladly step aside and let them make whatever changes they want because their happiness is important.
As a creative, you may be shuddering at my last statement, but hear me out: Your artistic integrity is certainly important. You want to put the best work out, and you want to be considered the best. I get it. Your ideas may be great, or valid, or even better than the client’s, but in this case, it doesn’t matter. It’s creating tension and at the end of the day, you may lose the job. You don’t want to lose out on opportunities, especially when starting out! You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to prove yourself and your ideas as an artist, and even more chances with clients if you’re a likable, agreeable person and easy to work with. Trust me!
2. Consider a Revisions Sheet
In my book, I created revision sheets for clients to directly express what they want me to change. If a client has difficulty expressing what they want, the sheet will help them articulate what they’re looking for. It will also help me decipher what they’re actually trying to achieve with the song. Perhaps their idea of “country” vocals is different from my own. Perhaps they had a totally different idea of what it would sound like. If I know what they’re looking for, I can get them that result much easier. Feel free to use my sheets if you’re a musician. If you’re a different kind of creative, you could still try to use mine or create your own based on common misunderstandings. Try to ask questions that will eliminate any sort of doubt between you and your client. Create a sheet and save it for when troubles arise.
3. Separate Yourself from the Result
This relates to the first point, but it’s worth mentioning again. You are not your projects. You may create a logo, song or painting that becomes well-known and is not that great. That’s okay. It doesn’t define you as an artist. Most other creatives will know that, and anyone who doesn’t will most likely not know enough about your industry to care. You were hired for a job, and you completed it to your client’s satisfaction. That’s the best you can do! You’ll have other opportunities to show off your skills. If this project isn’t an example of your best work, you don’t have to use it or include it in your portfolio.
4. Repeat What They Say
This is a great way to make sure you fully understand what they want. When I get a revision from a client, I try to rewrite what they said in my own words. “Just so I fully understand what you need, you want me to keep the first verse as-is, change the first line of the second verse, and change the chorus melody?” Then they will write back and either confirm or change what I said until we are both completely on the same page. This usually saves a ton of back and forth communication!
5. Humanize Your Client
It’s easy to get frustrated after several revisions. If your client is rude or tactless, it’s even worse. At this point, I like to try asking them other questions to lighten the mood. For example, “I definitely want to make sure you’re happy with your song. Can I ask what you wrote it about?” It’s a good way to find out more about them (and maybe learn more about why it’s important that they have so many edits). If you’re doing something like a logo, ask about how the company got started. Ask where they will place the painting. Just get them talking so you can remind yourself that this is a human you’re working with and not an evil monster.
6. Use a Contract
This is super important. Have a contract stating how many free revisions you will do. When they get to the last free one (if you do more than one), let them know this is the last free revision. State in the contract how much you charge for further revisions. Usually, having to pay more will stop clients from being too demanding. If you don’t have a contract like this, it could lead to endless revisions and a lot of headaches. Be sure to avoid this by using a contract!
7. Draw Firm Boundaries
At the end of the day, your mental and emotional health is important. If a client is not respecting your time or talent, it may be time to discontinue the relationship. I really would save this as a last resort, because word gets around and you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve never had to walk away from a project, but I have refused to work with one or two clients again due to issues with previous projects. If you’ve had a hard time with them before, consider whether you want to go through it again. If you have a contract in place, you may be required to refund the money if you don’t complete the job. Sometimes it’s worth it to preserve your sanity. Again, I recommend trying to see it through unless you just can’t deal with it anymore.Setting firm boundaries with clients is important for both sides! Make sure everyone knows what is expected of each other and the end result. Click To Tweet
I hope these tips help you! Just remember, we all go through this process and you’re not alone. If you’re still stuck or need more resources, here are some great ones:
If you’re feeling particularly miserable and looking to commiserate, Clients From Hell is a great resource to see that we all go through it!
If you’d like to see my other post about how to get good revisions as a client, check it out here: https://mellamusic.com/revisions-clients/ I recommend reading both whether you’re a client or creative because it’s helpful to know both sides! Got any other tips or resources? Please let me know! I’m always interested to see how people make edits easily!