October SPARK Workshop - Project Scoping For Freelancers


Feature Photo: Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Copy By: Jeanette Smith

Being considered for a new project or commission is an exciting moment but setting yourself up for success with that client can be more difficult. One of the best ways to ensure a project goes smoothly is to set everyone’s expectations by outlining the scope of your project.

Sometimes called a Statement of Work or a proposal, this document lays out the framework for the project including the goals, deliverables, deadlines, and costs. When you make clear what you will be doing for the project, what you will not be doing, and the time and costs involved, you can help avoid “scope creep.”

Scope creep is when a client asks you to complete work outside of what was previously agreed upon. To your client, it may seem like a small, innocent request, but it could mean hours of extra work for you and a dip in your profits. A thorough statement of work will address this issue by setting expectations clearly.

It’s important to note that a proposal is not the same as a contract but will be referenced when drawing up a formal contract. Although it is not legally binding, it’s a good idea to have your client sign the final proposal. A scope statement should include:

Project Summary: This is a simple statement (only a sentence or two) that describes the project and sets forth the main goal. It could be something like ‘create a website for a new product to promote brand awareness and increase search visibility.’

Actionable Items: Here is where you will break down the project into individual tasks to be completed. If you are a photographer setting up a shoot, this could include:

·      communicating about a theme

·      scouting for a photo shoot location

·      taking the photos

·      editing the photos

·      customer photo selection

·      etc.

Deliverables: Using your actionable items, create a timeline of when each part of the project will be completed and delivered. Note: not every actionable item will be a deliverable, but every deliverable should be a part of your actionable items. If appropriate, include costs and client responsibilities for each aspect of your deliverables. As an example, a writer crafting an article might have this list of deliverables:

·      Monday 1st – Deliver questions to the client

·      Monday 8th – Client returns completed questions

·      Wednesday 17th – Article delivered to the client

·      Friday 19th – List of desired edits due from the client

·      Wednesday 24th – Final edited article delivered

Boundaries/Exclusions: This will include everything that falls outside your scope of work. It’s important to be as detailed as possible in this section to avoid scope creep. It takes some imagination to think of every possible request a client might have, but try to include as much as possible. For example, a graphic designer creating a logo for a company might include an exclusion of designing a letterhead or business card with the new logo.

Pricing/Payment Schedule: Give your client a total price (or hourly rate and estimate of hours) for the project and let them know when they will be paying you. For example, a makeup artist might charge a flat fee of $500, requiring half of the total as a non-refundable down payment when booking the appointment and the remaining balance on the day of the event.

Some other items to consider adding include location and equipment requirements, acceptability criteria, assumptions, and change orders. Remember to use active “working” words (think of how you write job descriptions on a resume) and avoid vague language such as “should” or “maybe.” Even if you’ve worked with this client before, make a scope statement for every individual project. Last but not least, don’t forget to proofread!