If you’ve not heard of a scope creep before, you’re lucky. A scope creep is the kind of client that will ask for “just a little bit extra” work. Sometimes it is just a little bit but that little bit quickly turns into a lot and before you know it you’re working for free and losing money and time you could be spending on paid work.

What do we mean by “service” scope creep?

Well the service scope creep goes one step further. It’s the client who loves the work you do and starts to ask you to do more work that isn’t usually part of your services and is potentially something you don’t want to do.

This may start off with the best of intentions but it can end up disrupting your business model if you’re not careful.

The service scope creep problem usually begins because a freelancer is so grateful for a good client, they’re willing to go out of their way to help them.

It’s difficult to say no to these clients, especially if they’re friendly, pay on time and give you consistent work.

However, if you find your time being taken up by work you never really signed up for and don’t enjoy, this quickly sucks out any satisfaction you get from getting regular work which can then affect the quality.

How to stop it

Start a conversation

First of all, a conversation between you and your client needs to happen because they’re probably completely unaware that you’re unhappy with your work or what they’ve asked for is a problem.

Hopefully, if they’re a good client they will understand right away and then you can come to a workable solution.

Be firm

Sometimes it’s harder to be firm with nice clients than it is to be with unreasonable ones. You obviously want to keep the working relationship healthy and positive but it’s also important to be honest about the situation. This is your business and time and you have to fight to protect it.

Refer to someone else

If you can come up with a readymade solution to this problem, then this will help the process of making the necessary changes to your working relationship.

One way to do this is to have someone you can refer your clients to who does the services that they want. You could refer to an agency or another freelancer who you think will be a good fit. This way you can help out a fellow freelancer, provide a solution for your clients and everyone wins.

Give them notice

If you’ve been doing this work for a long time and want to put a stop to it, try to give your client some notice so that they can prepare and find someone else rather than just suddenly dropping the work. If you do want to continue the client relationship, it’s important that you’re courteous and don’t burn any bridges.


Have you ever had a service scope creep? How would you deal with one? Let us know what you think.


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