How to Realistically Scope a Job

How to realistically scope a freelance assignment

Here’s a simple way to figuring out how a project will cost the client.  You break down the components of the project, estimate how long each activity will take, multiply those activities by your hourly rate and then present a  price to the prospect. 

Contingencies to include in the proposal

In reality, scoping a job is not always that simple. What if you win the business and the client has lots of revisions for every document you create? That opportunity could turn out to be less lucrative than you originally planned. What if the client presents a counter-offer to your scope that’s a lot less than your minimum retainer? What if you’re angling to get a foot in the door at the client’s company and cut your rate with the hope of getting more work in the future? What if you want the assignment to pay more, but the requirements just don’t justify a higher bid?

These hypothetical scenarios often run through a communications freelancer’s mind, and they can get in the way of running and growing a successful consulting practice.

You should never let hypotheticals cloud your vision. But what if those scenarios actually happen? Let’s tackle them one by one.

Be Specific About the Revision Process

Build review cycles into the scope to let the client know that the estimate is based on two (or three) rounds of major revisions or changes. Be clear during the negotiation stage that any revisions or changes beyond those that are originally included in the scope impacts the deadline and cost.

Find the Middle Ground In a Counter-Offer

If the client’s counter-offer is a lot less than you’re willing to accept, you can continue to negotiate, but don’t be afraid to turn down the opportunity. Your time could be better spent finding more lucrative opportunities.

Be Flexible to Get a Foot in the Door

If you’re hoping to get a foot in the door at the client’s company, that’s all the more reason not to lower your rates. When you drop your rate, there’s no incentive for the client to pay your fair market value, especially if you pick up additional assignments from them.

If the assignment simply doesn’t warrant a lot of time and budget, take it if you must, but keep looking for other assignments. Or you may want to consider declining it altogether and better spend your time looking for new opportunities.

No matter what, never pad the estimate. When you present a fair and realistic price that enables both parties to get something of value, it leads to more opportunities via on-going assignments and referrals.

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