What to do when a client asks a freelancer for changes to a finished product

In a perfect world, every deliverable would be accepted without changes. This may not happen all the time, but there are a few ways that you can increase the likelihood that your client will accept your work without needing to make any changes:

When one of these pieces falls through, it’s important to adapt and optimize deliveries in each step of the project. Miscommunications occur when there isn’t a clearly defined system that allows for supervision and approval of the deliverables, and then you have to implement changes in the entire project.

But what can you do when the requested changes contradict the initial goals or when the client didn’t explain their project well?

Keep reading to find out:

The best solution: Avoid situations where the full project is rejected

Redoing work after the first delivery doesn’t mean you’re a bad freelancer or that you’re not performing well. What it means is that you have to create an optimized work system.

When this happens frequently, it’s a sign that you need to create a step by step plan to avoid running into these situations in the future. Here are a few objectives that you can achieve step by step so you can avoid having to make constant changes to your finished product:

  • Read the client’s description of the project closely. Identify potentially confusing and inexact objectives and make a list of them.
  • Create a list of questions based on the objectives on your list.
  • Present your list of questions to the client and request clear answers, preferably in writing so you can keep it handy and reread it when necessary.
  • Come to an agreement of partial deliveries or deadlines for milestones in the project a maximum number of changes per milestone
  • Always ask for approval of the partial delivery before moving onto the next step of the project
  • Clearly express the number of corrections you’ll do at once throughout the project and what the price is for changes once the client has established their limit

Our recommendation is to make a checklist of these objectives and milestones to clearly mark that you’re following each step with each client.

When changes are needed because of a freelancer’s oversight

Sometimes freelancers may not understand the client’s instructions, and the project ends up taking an unexpected turn. What can you do in these cases?

The mantra “the customer is always right,” isn’t always true; we know the customer is human and isn’t always right. But it’s important to make sure that you avoid making errors in your performance and service. Keeping a client will depend on how conscientious you are.

It’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • A client who makes a mistake and isn’t willing to admit it is a client that isn’t worth taking on long term.
  • A client that doesn’t make mistakes, even if you’re the one who made a mistake, but asks for changes guided by what was initially requested is a client who is worth taking on long term.

When you acknowledge your failure to understand a direction and admit it and rectify the situation, the client will become a repeat customer because they know they can trust you.

In these cases, what you have to do is:

  • Admit your mistake and provide a response and a solution
  • Estimate how much time it’ll take to correct the mistake
  • Show a good attitude

If the changes are necessary because of a mistake on the client’s part

Like we said before, the customer isn’t always right. It’s important to develop an assertive form of effective communication in these cases.

A good attitude is an essential tool in your freelancer arsenal that will ensure a good outcome in cases of making changes to a project. Make sure that you and your client have a good contract, even when there are changes that need to be made that weren’t included in the original contract.

In these cases, you have two options:

  • Accept the request for changes without any type of negotiation, establishing deadlines and steps in the projects for the new requested changes.
  • Put your negotiation abilities into practice with your client.

In the first case, this can result in an unfair situation because you’ll have to invest new time and energy into a project that you’ve already created a budget for that doesn’t include this new phase.

However, you can show your intention to make the changes while making it clear that the project was finished within the received objectives and they will take your willingness into account which will guarantee that your client will become a repeat customer. You can do this with clients who show that they intend to continue working with you on the same project at a different level or who have shown interest in working with you on future projects.

The second case is better because it allows you to put your negotiation abilities into practice to establish new agreements with your clients and make changes under a project extension.

If you’d like to choose this option, you must have a good attitude so the client recognizes that it was your mistake, and then your client will be willing to pay for the changes, understanding the value of your time and expertise. This last option can help you make the client a repeat customer because you can offer them a discount on the project extensions and improvements.

What freelancers won’t say

We couldn’t write this article without including the responses from Workana freelancers who answered the question: “What do you do when clients ask for changes after the final project is turned in?

We’re sure you’ll identify with at least one of these responses:

  • sosvirtual: @workana, it’s important to negotiate hours, time, costs, see if the changes are even feasible, and how the changes will affect the project”.

(We virtually applaud you!)

  • nogphotography: With resignation. Take a deep breath for this, and for everything lol”

(We noticed the nervousness in your laugh, but yes; breathe deeply and do what’s necessary.)

  • jdavidrp11: It’s stressful”

(That’s freelancer life; you have to have nerves of steel.)

  • “argar70: I do it; the goal is for the client to be satisfied”

(Good work policy! We salute your determination!)

(We’re sure you know plenty of relaxation techniques)

  • “kellyangaraY: When it happens seven times, it can be tempting to want to bring it to mediation, and that hurts us! The laws are unfair; you have to consider that.”

(Good point; that’s why we work to optimize processes so every client and freelancer can put their mind at ease)

  • playerdiego: “Since the beginning it’s been possible to make the number of changes included clear. That way if the number exceeds the limit you can defend yourself and negotiate an extra cost for the changes.”

(We ask ourselves how much that learning experience cost us; thank you for sharing this)

  • “nelsynsojo: It happened twice and my gosh (face of desperation and frustration), and not just once; several times. That means that there was nothing to be done except to take a deep breath and make the changes.”

(Take a deep breath; it’s a good way to relax)

  • “mtatyvera: Super sad”

(We avoid sadness; with he tips we gave you; you can prevent these situations from repeating themselves)

  • “lauralunari: One time? Thousands! Although they perfectly specify the number of annotations, changes, and time, I’m on the client’s side, I understand them, and I let myself carry it out because it stays “in line” throughout the project which makes me happy and is my ultimate goal. Here’s my “brief” explanation (it’s not an easy question!)”

(Thank you for sharing; we’ll take note!)

  • “isaacerd1: Given that I know that extensions exist, I let the client know, and the number of changes decreases.”

(Excellent solution, we’re glad that you support us using our tools to make everything go smoothly)

  • “decorazon_objetos: #killme”

(We’ll help you!)

  • “mauro_liguori: Bahahaha I must have overlooked that, but I modified it with pleasure!”

(It sounds easy, but is it?)

Tell us, which response do you identify with the most?


Being a freelancer means having nerves of Steel, great social skills, and business acumen, among other important skills, which is why we’d like to congratulate you on your great work through Workana. Keep up the good work, keep our advice in mind, and you’re sure to have happy clients.

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