3 ways to handle rushed freelance work from clients

Darryl D.
Darryl D.
Dec 19, 2017 · 3 min read
Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

I would like to assume that the vast majority of people freelancing don’t enjoy rushing. I would also like to assume that the vast majority of people, in general, feel the same way.

Ever received an email like so:

Can you fix this small thing before noon?

Or how about.

Can you have this done first thing tomorrow morning??

And let’s not forget…

Is it possible to jump on a quick call right now so we can review this document?

The problem? Your time being snatched from under your feet. All those plans you had based on your schedule 10 mins ago? Gone. Not to mention a bigger concern, fear of losing a client or possibly burning a bridge.

Here’s some of the advice I wish I had when I started.

Mention your contract

Before you start the contract, a working agreement needs to be accepted. Mention to the client that you require 48 hours notice for each and every request. This will give you and your client time to plan accordingly. Feel free to say 24 hours if you like to live on the edge! If it’s not in a contract, that’s fine, make it part of the agreement moving forward.

Upcharge for your inconvenience

In the event, they do need that rush work and want to go around the agreed notice time, give them an option for your rate plus half. If your rate was $30 an hour before, it’s now $45! Also, make a rule that the request takes a minimum of 4 hours. Now that rush work is looking more appealing because it pays you for your inconvenience and protects you from small annoying rushed tasks. This also removes the dreaded “this will only take you 10 mins to do!”.

When you think about it, this benefits the client because you’re not working in an annoyed/aggravated state of mind. Nobody produces good work when annoyed…

For the sake of perspective, going to the emergency room at a hospital is much more expensive than scheduling a doctor appointment. Well, for most doctors.

Tell them no

Simply put, you are not an employee. I would assume one of the reasons you choose to freelance was the freedom it gives you. You have a schedule of your own. You have personal plans. In short, you have a life. All of that isn’t dismissed for a client’s urgency. The challenge and goal is to have them understand you can’t drop everything you’re doing when they need you.

Even if you’re working for free, you don’t want to enable that type of relationship, it becomes a Slippery Slope.

Let’s take another look at the requests, this time with responses.

Client: Can you fix this small thing before noon?
You: Hey! My bandwidth for the next 3 days has already been planned out. It’s best to give me proper notice in order for me to do my best work. I would consider this “rush work” that goes outside the contract. Rushing reduces my quality of work, that’s not good for either of us :(

(don’t forget the sad face! It portrays emotion!)

Client: Can you have this done first thing tomorrow morning??
You: Hey! I don’t have the bandwidth at the moment and I would consider this the rush work mentioned in our contract. If it’s mission critical, I can postpone my current plans but, my hourly rate for this request will go up roughly 50% due to me pushing other deadlines back. Let me know if you’re ok with that.

Client: Is it possible to jump on a quick call right now so we can review this document?
You: Hey! Right now isn’t a good time. Mind putting something on my calendar for Tuesday and attach the document? If you can, mention some of the things you want to discuss. I would like some time to review it and consider your points before jumping on a call.

Let me know if any of these responses help deal with a rushing client! If you need more help with freelancing or just want to share your experience. Feel free to reach out or comment. Also, sign up for more simple to follow tips.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store