Freelance: What is a Statement of Work?
What is a statement of work? It is “a formal document that captures and defines the work activities, deliverables, and timeline a vendor must execute in performance of specified work for a client.”
So you’ve started your freelance career, why should you have one with a new client? Wait, let me back up a bit. If you’ve worked with a client for a long time and you have a good relationship, you may not need a statement of work. However, if you are starting work for a new client, a statement of work isn’t a bad idea to have. It prevents scope creep (“Can you work on this while you’re doing that?”) And it can save some grief especially legal ones.
So what should a statement of work contain, especially for a freelancer? It should at least contain the following:
- The deliverables on your end
- The deadline for the deliverables
- The number of editorial rounds during the process
- The resources for the project
- Number of meetings for each party
- Where and when the parties will meet
- Who pays for what – the budget
- When payment is due
- Out-of-scope – this means what you will not do and are not responsible for during the duration of this project.
I learnt the hard way. I did some work for a new client a few years ago and didn’t prepare a statement of work. I spent three days writing a 1,500 ghost written piece for the client that really needed at least two weeks and gave the client a good deal. Look, I was new, learn from my mistakes.
I hit my deadlines but guess what happened? I didn’t get paid for 18 months. Eighteen months. I had finally given up when I ran into my client at the bank. She paid me half of what I was owed and paid the second half about a month later. Still, that experience taught me ask and detail all the questions before starting a project.