How I handle repetitive revision requests from content writing clients

I normally don’t charge extra from my clients for multiple revisions. Whenever I undertake a new content writing assignment I let it be known to my clients that although I charge an hourly rate, once I have submitted a document in its complete form from my side, I stop tracking the time and afterwards, if there are some revisions, I don’t charge for that time.

This can be a bit tricky and counterproductive and you have to draw a line somewhere. Why in the first place a document needs to be revised?

  • It carries lots of errors in terms of wrong data, misspelled words, typos and grammar mistakes
  • The brief sent by the client is not fully used or is completely ignored
  • Something more needs to be added to the initial brief sent by the client
  • Some features need to be added or removed as the client has had a rethink
  • The copy doesn’t carry the needed punch and the client thinks that it won’t make the desired impact

Most of the reasons mentioned above are not unusual and they happen (first reason being an aberration rather than a reason in its true sense) with almost every content writing and copywriting project. It’s fair enough. It rarely happens that the first draft itself is accepted by the client.

The problem arises when, just because I’m not charging, the client thinks that revisions can go on and on and he or she wants to change the document every second day simply because he or she cannot make up his or her mind. This means the client neither respects his or her own time nor mine. Even if you have to change a single word, 5 minutes is the minimum amount of time it takes to make sense of what the client is trying to convey, open the document, make appropriate changes and then send the revised document again to the client. I don’t charge because I assume that if a document needs to be revised, something goes wrong on my side and hence, I shouldn’t charge.

When do I charge for revising the document?

I normally charge for revisions when a document is completely changed. For instance, I have prepared a document according to the brief sent by the client. I have submitted the document for review and while reviewing the document, the client thinks that he or she sent me wrong information and this was not what he or she intended to say. It means I may have to rewrite the document from scratch. I charge for that time.

I also charge if I need to do extra research. Sometimes the clients says, “simply look up the information on the Internet,” but often it is not as easy as it may sound (or conveniently assumed). Searching the right, verifiable information can take up lots of time. That is why, if the client cannot provide me the right information and I have to look it up myself, I charge for that time, and I convey this to my client.

When do I put a stop?

I have been providing content writing services since 2004 so I have enough experience to know whether a client is non-serious or not. You are not gaining anything by making me revise the document again and again. It either means that you have lots of time on your hand or you are not clear about exactly what you want to communicate, and this is not my problem. You provide me information and according to that information I write your content. If there are some writing mistakes, if the content is not compelling enough, point that out and I will try to rectify it to my utmost capacity. But if you’re simply making me change and revise because you want to view things from different angles, then sorry, it takes lots of my time and I need to put a stop.

Have I ever lost a project because I refused to revise multiple times? I don’t remember actually. I rarely work with senseless clients. I will be frank. The most senseless clients I have encountered are the ones I worked for when I used to develop and design websites. Big time wasters.

Content writing clients are more professional. Maybe this is because it is a newly-emerging field and people who want to hire content writers are anyway serious about their business. They know exactly what they want.

Anyway, would I abandon a project midway just because I don’t want to revise again and again and again? Yes, I would. Instead of wasting my time, I prefer to lose money.


Amrit Hallan