Clients are fun. Okay, that was only half sarcastic. For most of us, clients are the reason we eat. Client work keeps us going, and many clients are really great to work with. Client revisions are always going to exist too. We can’t just expect everyone to love what we do the first time.
However, many client revisions can be avoided, especially later down the line with some good planning and communication. Here are 5 tips for avoiding unnecessary client revisions.
1. Set Up A Creative Brief
Some clients are really good about creative briefs and some don’t know what they are. But you should. And if your client doesn’t provide one, send them one of your own. There are several things you want to cover in the brief. Here are some of them.
Start with the production timeline and deadlines. These are super important so you can make sure you are delivering things with time for review. They will also help you keep your client on schedule with feedback.
Collect any necessary artwork, assets, and a locked script with the brief. This way you won’t be asked to make changes later when you find out the script or art wasn’t pre-approved. And if those changes come, you can ask for overages or more time to compensate.
Also, try and lock down the client’s vision and desired outcome in the brief. This way, you know you are working toward the same goal. If a client lets you go wild without any initial direction, it can be a recipe for a restart halfway through the process, no matter how good your project looks.
2. Provide Rough Cuts
No matter what you may think, rough cuts are your friends. Sometimes artists don’t want to provide a rough to the client in fear that the client won’t “get it”. While it’s true that some clients have a hard time understanding the full vision, waiting until you polish your turd doesn’t make it not a turd.
Okay, that was a bit harsh, but if the client doesn’t see anything until the end, there is no way to know if you are going in the right direction. Communicating early will help you avoid major revisions down the line.
Early roughs will help set up the pacing and tone of your project and get basics locked in so you can focus on details later when you need to. Just be sure to communicate that you are sharing roughs and point out the things that aren’t completed so they have a better understanding.
3. Know The Boss
Sometimes the biggest issue that comes up with client revisions is having the wrong person review the project. Figure out who the final decision maker is on the project, and make sure they are seeing the project throughout the process.
It’s sometimes easy to get sign off on versions along the way with someone in the approval chain, only to find out later that the final decision maker hates the whole thing.
4. Lock The Scope
When you set up the project and the budget, define what’s included. Set up the number of revisions included in the budget, the timeline, and the deliverables.
If you are clear about what’s expected of you and the client on the project, it makes it much easier to ask for overages if they are needed and keep the client in check.
When you can, define the things that may cause overages ahead of time. Then when they come up, there will be no surprises on the part of the client.
5. Get It In Writing
All of these things are well and good when you are talking to the client, but if the client cleverly “forgets” the earlier conversation you had, you might be out of luck.
Set up a simple contract that outlines the basics of the creative brief, expectations and scope, timelines, budget and potential overages. Get a copied signed by the client and send them a countersigned copy for their records.
In the best cases, it’s a simple reminder of what was asked of you that can save you from making those unnecessary revisions later. In the worst case, it can save you in legal action.
Most clients really are great to work with. We all have the same goal which is to deliver a great product, but confusion and lack of communication can cause you to have to make a lot of revisions that could just be avoided with these simple tips.