You should always try your best to meet the deadlines that yourself and your clients have agreed upon. Doing so will help you not let work drag on and is sure to make your client happy.

However, sometimes things just happen and you’re not able to complete the work on time. Trying to let it slip by unnoticed and not saying anything should never be an option. Whether it’s your fault or not, it’s important to communicate with your client about extending the deadline.

When asking your client to extend the deadline, one of the best things you can do is be honest. People can tell if your lying fairly easily (yes, even through email), and making up excuses or trying to bend the truth will only hurt you more. Telling your client exactly why you can’t meet the current deadline and owning up to it really is the best way to go.

2.  Be Honest

Don’t just be honest for yourself, and the sake of your professional reputation. Do it for all freelancers, everywhere. When a rotten-apple, shoddy freelancer is duplicitous and shifty, it makes us all look bad.

Be honest about why you’re behind on schedule – that doesn’t mean you have to go into exhausting, self-flagellating detail. Honest explanations about why you’re requesting an extension can include phrases like:

“[This project] requires more research than I initially anticipated.”

“I’m finding that this is slightly more complex than we projected.”

“[This project] is different from [other projects I’ve done] because of the [special characteristic] – that’s, unfortunately, adding some extra steps to my workflow.”

If a genuine life emergency has factored into your delay, be honest about that, too. Again, you don’t have to throw yourself on clients’ mercy or go into painstaking detail. People understand that life doesn’t always follow the mandates of professional schedules; useful neutral phrases include “family emergency”, “illness”, or “equipment failure”*. Be prepared to be more specific, if they ask – but most clients won’t.

Being honest is good for you! It also, incidentally, has a fringe benefit – you’re less inclined to procrastinate if you know you’ll be held accountable for your actions, and can’t invent a mystery “stomach illness” to delay a deadline.”

Read the full article at Freelancers Union.