How many revisions do you do?

No matter what kind of freelancer you are, endless revisions are probably your worst nightmare, especially because you don’t get paid until you finish the project (and your client is happy).

In this short interview, legendary direct response copywriter, Bob Bly, shares his strategy about how to control the number of revisions he does. (He also shared his actual one-page agreement in the new Proposal Bundle for Copywriters).

IB: On your one-page agreement, you write “Revisions must be assigned within 30 days. After that, additional rewrites may be made at a fee negotiated separately from this agreement” Why is that there?

BB: I get calls all the time from other freelancers asking for advice. The most common call I get is “This client keeps asking me to revise the copy. Do I have to do it?” I say, “Well, what does your agreement say about revisions?” They say, “I didn’t cover that.” If you don’t cover it, you’re asking for problems. Without an agreement, the client has the right to ask you to revise infinitely.

IB: You stipulate up to two revisions are included at no extra charge? Do you ever do more than two? Do you often do less than two?

BB: I’m not hard-line about that. If a client needs a third revision, I will often just do it. I’ll say “Normally I charge for this. This is a reasonable request, I think I can do this without charging you extra.” I do let them know they’re getting something extra.

IB: In terms of turnaround time for revisions, do people expect you to do it immediately?

BB: We cover that in the agreement. We say, “Bob makes his best attempt to be available to do revisions. Depending on his availability, Bob can sometimes turn around minor revisions in 2-4 business days. Major revisions may take longer.” Before I had that clause we had situations where I’d have to do a revision, the client would call the same afternoon and say “Where is it?”

Listen to the rest of Bob’s interview here on the Marketing Mentor podcast.

Do you have any revision strategies to make it less nightmarish? If so, share them here.

For more on proposals: check out Proposals 101 and Presenting Killer Proposals

4 thoughts on “How many revisions do you do?

  1. Stephen Tiano

    As an 18+-year veteran book designer this became an important question to me early on. For book interiors, the written agreement I sign with clients allows for two rounds of corrections as long as they don’t amount to a wholesale remaking of pages throughout the book. For covers, after clients agree to any art and how it’s used, anything more than tinkering with text placement or typeface choices is beyond the scope. And that means revisiting the price for a book project. Thankfully, with publishing companies, academic presses, and self-publishers all among my clients, I’ve never had to refer to that clause and renegotiate from inside a project.

    I’m curious what others have to say, however.

  2. heather parlato

    i include 2 rounds of revisions with each project and coach the clients toward making the most of each one. i haven’t had clients exceed this by more than minor edits on a 3rd revision [which i will throw in if they're really small]. i haven’t had to charge for extra revisions in a long time, but i do have a prohibitively annoying flat rate for additional rounds.

  3. Alisa Bonsignore

    My contract includes a first draft and two rounds of revisions, with additional edits billed at a punitive hourly rate. This prevents the “Oh, now I have a little bit more feedback from the VP… and now some additional thoughts from the product manager” issue that I used to experience. Now they get all of the feedback, consolidate it and present it to me in a single round.

    On my end, revisions are turned around in four business days. I often do it faster, but I have a built-in window to relieve some of the pressure. Again, if the edits require faster turnaround, that incurs rush charges.

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