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I had to set a firm boundary with a client the other day…
And I know a lot of freelancers struggle to set boundaries with their clients — myself included.
So in this article, I want to show you the exact message I sent my client to set this boundary like a pro.
Plus I’ll also reveal the single most important part of my client agreement that made it easy for me to set this boundary.
But first, I should probably share that I used to be awful at setting boundaries.
In fact, if I had to describe my old boundaries…
I’d say they had more holes than Swiss cheese 🧀 🤣.
And I remember more than one occasion where I canceled plans with friends to spend an entire Saturday working on a client emergency.
But do I regret it?
Only a little…
You see, part of what makes setting boundaries so challenging is that there are often good reasons to lower or adapt them.
Personally, I take pride in being able to deliver for my clients when the stakes are high. Which sometimes means “opening up” my boundaries to give my clients some extra attention.
And as long as they don’t abuse my willingness to be accommodating, I’m comfortable with that.
As an example, one time I sacrificed a Saturday to help a relatively new client…
And they ended up working with me for over three years and paying me more than $150,000.
Plus they didn’t make a habit out of interrupting my time off.
So I am TOTALLY fine with that exchange.
Because like almost everything in life, setting boundaries is a balancing act.
If you’re too rigid, you can repel quality clients.
But if you don’t set any boundaries, your clients can walk all over you.
Which means you have to find boundaries that work for you — and also decide if and when you’re okay making exceptions to them.
So that’s why today, I want to show you a recent message I sent to a client to set a boundary myself.
This message demonstrates how I can be flexible — but also set a clear boundary at the same time.
My objective is to help you find your own comfort level with setting boundaries like a pro, though.
You don’t have to copy what I have here.
Now for context, this client ran into some (understandable) delays while I was waiting for their feedback and revisions on a deliverable.
So I wanted to acknowledge and empathize with them. But I also wanted to let them know that I needed their feedback soon. Because until this project is finished, it limits my ability to take on additional work.
Here’s what I said to them.
(And make sure you keep reading after this. Because you’ll see that my message references a “14-day limit” on revisions. And I’m going to show you exactly how I set that up next…)
A Real Message I Sent To Set Boundaries With A Freelance Client
Hey everyone, wanted to check in on your feedback to the last round of edits and also share a quick reminder: In our agreement, it says you have 14 days to provide feedback for each round of revisions before the copy is considered approved by default. (Don’t worry, we can move that out this time).
Looking at the doc history, the last notes came from [Kristina] on 7/1, so it’s already gone more than 14 days. But we had the 4th of July in there. And this is also my first time mentioning this timeframe for feedback. So I’m happy to push it out to give you until the end of the day on Monday 7/20 to provide your next set of notes.
I do need your next set of feedback by then though, because as long as this project is still ongoing, it limits my ability to take on other work. (And we still have [other deliverables] to work on after the [current deliverable], too.) Thanks!
A few things to highlight here…
- To create a collaborative tone and avoid an initial confrontation, I start by referencing “our agreement.” I do not say they failed to provide feedback in time, or something else that focuses only on “them” instead of “us.”
- Immediately after I remind them of the timeline for revisions in our agreement, I ease their fears by saying “Don’t worry, we can move that out this time.” Because they are a great client. And I value their relationship. So I want to make sure they know I understand the challenges they had and am willing to be flexible.
- Then I circle back and review the timeline for their latest round of feedback from my perspective to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. That way, I ensure we’re both on the same page about the latest feedback they gave, before I set a revised deadline.
- Finally, I share a revised — but firm — date for when I need their feedback. Which strikes the balance of being accommodating, while also respecting my own needs.
Now I’m happy to say my client got me the feedback I needed and we were able to wrap up the project shortly after. So in the end, everything worked out…
But this whole thing falls apart if your contract doesn’t set a timeline for the client to provide feedback to you.
So let me show how I set that timeline in my own contract right now…
(But remember, I’m not a lawyer. And this is not legal advice. So make sure you check with your own legal professional before using this.)
How To Set A Timeline For Your Client To Give You Feedback During A Project (In This Case, 14 Days)
If, after fourteen (14) days, Client has not requested revisions from Contractor, Final Deliverable will be considered accepted and approved by Client. For each round of revisions Contractor completes for Client, after Contractor submits their revisions, Client will have an additional period of fourteen (14) days to request subsequent revisions before Final Deliverable will be considered accepted and approved by Client.
So now let me ask…
Was this helpful?
If so, the biggest compliment you can give me is to share this article with a fellow freelancer who could also use this advice.
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