How to Extend a Project Deadline as a Freelancer Without Irritating Your Client

As a freelancer, you sometimes need to extend a project deadline. Hey, it happens to everyone. Yes, no matter if you are just starting out in your freelance journey or you’ve been around for years but find yourself swamped with new clients or just life. There will come a time that you will need a project deadline extension.

Even if you are the most organized freelancer out there, things can happen. Before you beat yourself up, think that every once in a while, people mess up. Yes, you are not alone when it comes to time management struggles, especially with work related to looking at a screen all day.

So, how do you actually go about it? A freelancer asking to extend a project deadline of course may tick off clients. However, nothing really annoys or irritates a client more than a project that doesn’t get done at all. A freelancer who ghosts a client is way worse than a freelancer requesting to extend a project deadline. So, what do you do?

Freelancer Tips: Extend Project Deadline

Okay, there are several things you can do so as not to irritate your client when you ask for a project deadline. Check out the tips below:

Man sitting down, facing laptop, one hand on head.

Be Honest

It’s cliche, yes, but honesty really is the best policy. Don’t try to make up reasons why you can’t make the deadline, instead, you have to tell the truth to your client, you owe them that much.

Have a New Schedule Ready

You’ll be moving a deadline and sometimes this will cause a chain reaction on the project of your client. When you ask for an extension, make sure that you can show a new schedule of how this said extension can affect the project. This way, the client can also manage their expectations of you. Will you be delaying the project by a few hours? A day?A week?

Make sure that your new schedule has approximate time given for some tasks to finish. You wouldn’t want to ask for a deadline extension more than once—now that will really tick off a client.

Timing is Everything

If you already know your client is in a bad mood, it might not be the right time to ask for an extension. It’s best if you know your client a bit, are they quite chipper in the morning after coffee? Maybe they are in a good mood when they accomplish goals. Take advantage of the situation when your client is in a better mood, that’s the best time to ask for an extension.

Make Up for Your Missed Deadline

The thing is, you are a freelancer and you made a promise to your client to submit a deliverable at a specific time. However, you know that you won’t be able to reach this deadline, so you have to make up for it. Just like when you are a consumer and the product or service you bought did not meet expectations, you make a complaint and the seller has to compensate.

You, the freelancer, should extend the same courtesy to your client. You can request a deadline extension but you also say that you can give a small discount or offer a free service for next time. It’s about making compensations so your client will not be irritated,

Let Your Client Vent

angry face on brick wall

This is a tough one but it is possible that your client will be upset that you cannot make the deadline that you agreed upon. And when the client is upset they may start to vent or ask questions, like, why didn’t you tell me sooner to why can’t you make a deadline that you promised? When this happens, they are not necessarily asking for an answer, sometimes they are just venting out their frustrations.

You just have to let your client be. It will definitely irritate them if you start throwing out reasons or excuses. Clients don’t want reasons, they want deadlines met.

Be Appreciative

There are definitely clients who are nice enough to extend your deadline. However, if you don’t show your appreciation, this will annoy them. So, if they approve your extension, say thank you right away. Tell them how much this means to you and of course, show that you really are involved with the project.

How to Avoid Irritating Clients on Deadline Extension Requests

Freelancer working on laptop, table with coffee cup, notebook, and flower vase

If you find yourself asking for deadline extensions from different clients frequently, then it might be time to change the way you work. Here are a few things that you can do to keep you on track and prevent going through the uncomfortable experience of a freelancer asking to extend a project deadline.

Create a Contract Clause on Deadline Extensions

It is advisable that a freelancer always have a contract when working with a client. This way, both parties are protected. When you include a clause in your contract that you may request a deadline extension, this can help manage the expectations of your clients. This way, your client will not be irritated if you ever need to extend work on a project.

Get Organized

As a freelancer, you have to have more than one set of skills. Whether you are a programmer, a writer, or an artist, the role does not end there. Freelancers also need to do admin work, which can take up more time and energy than you think. One way to get by is to use software that is designed specifically for freelancers—Kosmo. This way, getting organized is a breeze whether it is for lining up your current clients and upcoming projects to filing invoices, making contracts, and more.

Know Your Limits

Freelancers that are just starting out are usually more eager in handling different clients and projects. Sometimes, they end up biting more than they can chew. You have to learn your limits, prioritize specific clients or projects, and never say yes when you know that you can’t do it anymore. This will prevent you from stuffing your schedule, which can then lead to asking for deadline extensions.

Track Your Time

One of the best things about being a freelancer is you’re not on that 9-to-5 deskwork. However, if you are still new to freelancing, you might find yourself working more than 8 hours. What you can do is learn freelance time tracking. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of your schedule.

For example, if you are an accountant and you do monthly expense budgets, you can already learn the average time you spend on this project. So, if you can finish a budget for a small business in 6 hours, you can better manage your time and know how many clients to handle.

Have a Backup

There are times when you just can’t make a deadline. It can be for reasons no one can expect, like emergencies or accidents. When this happens, a deadline extension may not be the right solution for your client. It pays to have other freelancer friends. Join a community and get someone you can trust to be there in case you need a backup. You can also be this freelancer’s backup if they’re the ones who can’t reach a deadline.

Reminder: You are Not Entitled to a Deadline Extension

large timer with the word deadline on it

Remember that when you a freelancer asks to extend a project deadline, you are basically asking for a favor from a client. Not all clients will be able to allow an extension and that’s not their fault. You have to own up to your time management problems and your mistakes in calculating how many hours you need to work on a project.

Get Organized & Win More Clients

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