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The Insider’s Guide for Freelancers

Freelancers at Soleilles Cowork in Paris (Image: Laetitia de Maussion)

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Managing Expectation & Scope Creep

Beware the freelance evil that is scope creep. Scope creep happens when a project’s workload increases above and beyond the original scope. This could be a result of poor communication and an ill-defined scope or your inability to recognize the problem early enough. It’s important to monitor and manage expectations throughout each until completion. 

Common sources of scope creep include extra featuresand,iterations,as well as a more hidden culprit - implementation.  Discuss when and who is responsible for project’s implementation up front – If implementation is entirely outside of your range of services, make sure the client doesn’t hold false expectations. 

Cindy Meltzer founder of from The Social Craft explains: “I am absolutely clear up front what my services do and do not include, even if the client does not ask.  I emphasize the point that implementation needs to come internally in order to be successful. I work with clients on long-term strategy and education – the ‘teach them to fish’ approach. I firmly believe that the implementation for the work that I do should not be outsourced. The client tends to trust my convictions on this point, especially since it means I take less money from them in the long run!”

If scope creep does start to rear it’s ugly head, address it early and often to ensure your work and client relationship does not suffer. Here’s a simple script to get the conversation started: “I’ve enjoyed working with you and this relationship is important to me however, the scope of the project has changed and in order for us to continue working together, we’ll need to renegotiate the terms.”

Form A Brain Trust To Keep Yourself Motivated & Accountable 

One of the biggest attractions to freelance consulting is the fact that you get to be your own boss. However, it can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to staying motivated and consistently holding yourself accountable. Overcome the all-too-common tendency to procrastinate by forming a “Brain trust”, a group of freelance professionals and advisors who come together once a week to motivate and keep you on track.

The concept is simple: gather a group of 3-4 freelance professionals (including yourself), as well as three valuable mentors (i.e. CEO’s, venture capitalists, advisors…) who you can trust and who can fully commit, without exception, to a weekly conference call. Each week everyone in the group will discuss their weekly updates, progress, 1-2 significant challenges and goals.

There’s nothing more motivating then a group of people who aren’t afraid to give you the tough love you need when you’re slacking and to encourage you to be your best. You’ll need to come ready each week, and have a set time to prepare, which could mean reconciling your QuickBooks, or making those 20 phone calls you’ve promised yourself.  

Jill Cartwright further describes the benefits of having her brain trust: “Besides holding me accountable each week, my brain trust very quickly became my crisis management team. There was no need to spend time getting everyone up to speed since they already knew my business and could quickly offer specific solutions.”

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Related articles: 

Starting a new freelance life in a coworking space

How to get most out of your coworking membership

What are you worth? A Freelancer's Guide to Pricing.

Coworking Your Way to a Major Freelance Subcontracting Network

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