I started freelancing at the ripe old age of 13. I knew nothing about running a business, had no idea how to pitch or bid a project, and my knowledge of contract law was lacking to say the least. But that was all fine. I was just happy to have any work from people who were willing to pay me. But, after a few projects with massive scope creep, and, more than a few times, when I did work and I didn’t get paid, I started figuring some things out. I got better at choosing clients and started researching contract law.
It took me almost 7 years of freelancing, two jobs with ad agencies, countless hours of watching law classes on iTunes U, and, most importantly, a fair amount of failed projects and lost income. Because of that, I want you to have my scope of work. Please take it. I hope this template can help you.
Free Scope of Work and Matters Service Agreement Template
This file includes:
- An SOW Scope of Work Template
- An MSA Master Service Agreement Template
Please customize to your own needs.
Why I Only Use a Scope of Work and Not a Contract
A contract is nothing more than a set of promises and can be written or oral unless the contract is required to be written by law. Written and verbal are equally binding in theory, but not in practice. The main problem with verbal contracts is a lack of clear understanding of what is being agreed upon. Clear understanding creates happy clients. A happy client means you get paid.
For example: If someone says, “I will finish a website for you,” what does finish mean? …code the site, FTP the website to the server, or write all the content for the website? Do the vendor and the client have the same meaning for the word “finish?” If not, this means not only is the verbal agreement useless, but both you and your client will become frustrated when working together.
Not having a clear understanding of my role led to my most frustrating experiences as a freelancer, and was at least in part responsible for each time I went unpaid. For the work I was doing, long-form contracts are more trouble than they were worth. All I needed was to set a clear understanding between me and my client of what I was doing, how long it was going to take, what I needed from them, and how much and when I expected to be paid. Most importantly, I needed to have that in writing, because verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on, or something like that.
Since all I needed was a scope of work and a basic service agreement that is all I use. As a matter of fact, most of the time I don’t even make proposals. Instead, I will sit with the prospective clients and identify a list of goals and requirements for each of us. I then write up the cost and timeline and send a ready-to-sign SoW. It’s faster than a proposal and, in my mind, much better.
Let me know if this helps, and what other resources you have found to help the down-trodden, work-a-day freelancer.
***Disclaimer ( The only part of this blog post written by a lawyer)
Information and forms are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property, or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event, shall Mason Pelt, or his agents, officers, attorneys, etc…, be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if Mason Pelt has been advised of the possibility of such damages. They are for guidance and should be modified by you or your attorney to meet your specific needs and the laws of your state or jurisdiction. Use at your own risk.