Today’s Pro Tip is for all of the freelancers out there! You’ve just secured your first client and have been asked to provide a scope of work…but what is that, exactly?
A scope of work (also referred to as an SOW) is a document outlining details for the deliverables you’ll oversee, the time you’ll spend and the steps you’ll take working on these deliverables, and how you will be compensated. Beyond these basic areas, there are a few additional things you'll want to cover off in your scope of work to help proactively manage client expectations and create accountability for yourself.
Here are five things to include in your scope of work (and if you're not entirely sure what an SOW looks like, I’ve got you covered! Download my free resource, The Freelancer Starter Kit, here).
Yes, office hours exist for freelancers! If your client is in the same time zone as you, this may not be too big of an issue but it's still important to share if you have a timeframe you work within each day. This is especially the case if you have daily obligations like doctor's appointments, a side hustle or kids to pick up from school.
While we all will have to work outside of our desired times here and there, it's beneficial to express when you will be available for emails and phone calls with your client up front. If you work with clients in a different time zone, let them know when you will be available during their daily working hours and beyond in your scope of work.
To echo the office hours section - yes, freelancers take days off! If you have a family vacation, previous commitments or just need some personal time, include those dates in your SOW. So long it doesn't conflict with any of your deadlines or obligations promised to your client, this shouldn't be a problem, but it's always better to communicate upfront.
It is so important to put any billing expectations you have into the scope of work and even more important, to have an actual conversation with your client on these expectations either in person or over the phone. Talking about money is an uncomfortable topic for some people but believe me, you want to be crystal clear when it comes to your finances as a freelancer.
If you expect to be paid every 30 days because it's what you and your client agreed to, put it in the scope of work and ask your client what you need to do proactively to make sure that happens. Once the SOW is signed, I usually follow up asking if there's anyone in accounts payable I should connect with to get setup as a new vendor. That way when I submit my invoice at the end of the month, everything is already in place and my money hits the bank a lot faster.
Number of Revisions
This doesn't necessarily apply for every type of freelancer but if you work in any form of creative field (graphic design, copywriting, video production, etc.), you will want to include instructions for the number of revisions you're willing to provide. This will help prevent you from spending extra hours going back and forth on minor requests and instead encourage your client to be very clear and detailed with their expectations and needed edits the first time around.
This is by far the most important line to include in every scope of work... *clears throat*
“Any work requested by the client outside of this agreed upon scope of work before, during or after the project dates will be billed at an additional hourly rate of $(your hourly rate).”
Why is this so important to include? Because you will undoubtedly be asked to do something outside of the original scope of work. Your time is valuable and if you are on retainer or working on a project fee, you need to be compensated for the extra effort.
Freelance isn't free. Remember that.
About the author: Audrey Adair is a seasoned freelance communications professional and founder of ‘The Scope’ — a platform providing resources and community to freelancers and the self-employed. Connect with The Scope on Instagram and join their email list to receive your free resource, The Freelancer Starter Kit.