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Making Sure You Get Paid for Out-of-Scope Work as a Freelancer

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Making Sure You Get Paid for Out-of-Scope Work

When working as a freelancer, you must be aware of out-of-scope work, which refers to tasks or projects that were not originally agreed upon in your contract. This can impact your time, effort, and income, so knowing how to handle and get paid for additional work is essential. This article will provide practical strategies and tips to ensure you receive proper compensation for out-of-scope (aka scope creep) work.

Understanding Out-of-Scope Work

Defining Out-of-Scope Work

Out-of-scope work refers to tasks or projects not included in the initial project agreement or contract. These can be additional requests made by the client during the project, changes in requirements, or any unexpected work that falls outside the agreed-upon scope. As a freelancer, it is essential to identify and address out-of-scope work promptly.

Making Sure You Get Paid for Out-of-Scope Work as a Freelancer

The Importance of Addressing Out-of-Scope Work

Failing to address out-of-scope work can have several negative consequences. It can significantly waste your time and resources, jeopardise the quality of the project, and impact your overall profitability as a freelancer. Additionally, not addressing out-of-scope work effectively can harm your relationship with the client and potentially result in payment disputes.

Strategies for Handling Out-of-Scope Work

To ensure you get paid for out-of-scope work as a freelancer, here are 8 practical strategies you can implement (we end on the most important one!):

1. Clearly Define the Project Scope

From the outset of any project, it is crucial to establish a clear project scope with your client. This includes defining the specific deliverables, deadlines, and limitations or exclusions. By having a well-defined scope, you and your client have a shared understanding of what is included in the project and what falls outside its boundaries.

Making Sure You Get Paid for Out-of-Scope Work as a Freelancer

2. Maintain Open Communication

Regular and transparent communication with your client is vital to addressing out-of-scope work effectively. If the client requests additional tasks or changes during the project, promptly discuss the impact on the scope, timeline, and cost. You can negotiate any adjustments required to accommodate the out-of-scope work by keeping the client informed and involved.

3. Document Everything

Maintaining accurate documentation is essential when it comes to out-of-scope work. Keep detailed records of all project-related communication, including emails, messages, and meeting minutes. This documentation will serve as evidence in disputes and can help support your case for additional compensation.

4. Assess the Impact on Time and Resources

When faced with out-of-scope work, evaluate its impact on your time, effort, and resources. Consider the additional hours, research, or materials required to complete the task. Understanding the effect will enable you to negotiate fair compensation for the extra work.

5. Provide a Change Order or Contract Amendment

To formalise any out-of-scope work, it is recommended to create a change order or contract amendment. This document should outline the details of the additional tasks, the associated costs, and any adjustments to the project timeline. Ensure you and your client review and sign the document to avoid misunderstandings and ensure proper compensation.

6. Discuss Compensation with the Client

When addressing out-of-scope work, have an open conversation with your client about the additional compensation required. Clearly explain the reasons for the increased cost and demonstrate how it aligns with the project's revised scope. Presenting a well-reasoned case improves your chances of receiving fair payment for the extra work.

Making Sure You Get Paid for Out-of-Scope Work as a Freelancer

7. Set Boundaries and Manage Expectations

Setting boundaries and managing client expectations is crucial to prevent out-of-scope work from recurring. Communicate the limitations of the original project scope and make it known that any additional work will be subject to separate compensation. By managing expectations upfront, you reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and unpaid work.

8. Follow Up with Invoicing and Documentation

Once the out-of-scope work has been completed, the most crucial step is to invoice the client for the additional compensation agreed upon promptly. Include a detailed breakdown of the extra tasks and associated costs in your invoice. Additionally, maintain copies of all relevant documentation, such as change orders and contract amendments, for future reference.


Implement the strategies outlined in this article to ensure you are adequately compensated for any additional work during a project and maintain a successful freelance career. Remember to assess the impact, discuss compensation with the client, and set boundaries to manage expectations.

Before writing this article, I asked on LinkedIn about the importance of putting an out-of-scope clause in your contract. The majority of people said it’s important - every time!

If you are years into your freelance career and wish these were tips you knew when starting - don’t worry, you are not alone. And I am going to prove it to you. I will send out a questionnaire to the PPC community asking for their biggest scope creep fail stories. I will then collate the best stories and share them on the blog at a future date. Making the mistake of not counting for scope creep in your contract happens to the best of us, the important thing is to learn from the mistakes.

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