So I read this but I have different circumstances:

I was contacted to do some freelance design for an ad agency. The project was supposed to be a rush job and finish within the week. It's three weeks later now and the client has basically asked for a totally new design after a million nitpicks from their client (their client is requesting the new design, not the agency).

I've already spent my limit of hours that I estimated for completion of this project (that was not discussed or written down). I foresee another 15+ hours at minimum considering how it's been going so far. Should I request more money? I signed their contract as a "vendor" so there wasn't any room for me to put in details regarding these things as I would have if it was my own contract. We agreed on a flat fee. Now I'll be working for less than minimum wage if this keeps up.

Plus, besides the money aspect, the time aspect is something I want to address. Three weeks (and counting!) for something that they told me was definitely due in one week. I don't want this to go on for months. What's the best way to bring this up? Do I have any way to ask for more money for the additional work?

  • 2
    They are trying to, and possibly succeeding in, taking advantage of you, either get more money or fire the client. See my comment on this question
    – MonkeyZeus
    Oct 14, 2016 at 19:38
  • Imagine you were your client. Write an email that you would like to receive in their position.
    – Kyle Hale
    Oct 15, 2016 at 6:57

2 Answers 2


I agree with Zach. Go back to them and say "We need to discuss scope creep." This is a great jargon term (which is also entirely legitimate) and should get their attention.

What it means is that there was a scope of work for the original project, which included a time and/or fee estimate for a specific task(s) or deliverable(s). The work which the client is requesting has now gone beyond the original work, task, time, and/or deliverable.

You didn't agree to all the extra stuff. You agreed to do X job for Y money which would take Z amount of time, and planned for ABC rush per the client request. You and the client, because of client work changes, are now looking at Q job which will take N amount of time. There's no reason you have to agree to do Q job for the same Y money for which you agreed to do X job.

Explain, with great politeness and professionalism, that this project has now escalated beyond the original agreed-upon scope of work. If they would like you to continue on the project, you will give them a new scope and time/fee estimate. They can agree or not.

If they agree, great! Write up your new contract. If they disagree, politely submit an invoice for the time you've already spent and give them the deliverable per your contract in whatever condition it's in. (e.g., if they wanted you to design a website, give them whatever sketches you last submitted to them, as a JPG. Not source files.) If your contract includes a kill fee, you can charge it if you plan never to work with them again or make a point of waiving it to "cut them a break."

As a freelancer, you have to schedule your time and refuse other jobs to work on their job. You are not obligated to hold your schedule open for them indefinitely. They are paying for the time slot. That should be part of your explanation of why you can't just go 'round the mulberry bush waiting for them. (Even if you don't have jobs lined up, you should always act as though you do.) If they want to purchase more time slots with you, they are welcome to negotiate this new contract with you, but you are not required to keep your time open for them beyond what you originally agreed to (the one week).

  • 1
    Excellent answer; as you mentioned, it doesn't matter if you have jobs lined up or not -- even if you don't, that's time you can't spend doing something recreational (like spending time with family), and it's explicitly on their behalf, so they need to be on the hook for it financially.
    – Doktor J
    Oct 14, 2016 at 22:19

Don't be suckered into thinking that you can't change contracts, even ones that the other party creates. If they don't let you negotiate contract specifics, you don't want to be working with them anyway. Always make sure there is a maximum of hours worked or deliverables (including iteration number) and set pricing and payment plan.

This time I'd recommend to call it quits or negotiate a new contract. As is, what you've done is already done, you can't get that time back, but you can prevent yourself from losing more. Be nice about it, explaining why you need to create a new contract. Don't just straight ask for more money, ask for a new contract (including a new pricing for things going forward).

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