Stopping Scope Creep Without Offending Clients

To be able to have a conversation with your client that is in learned skill and that’s the most important thing to your question and my answer is that this is a skill don’t expect to be great at this right out of the box.

On the subject of scope creep, first and foremost define this s*** up front – that’s the best thing you can do.   Make sure they understand that they get X photography which includes Y images not to exceed this amount of time with this budget.  Another thing is being detailed in your estimate or consider get a producer on your team who can help you articulate exactly what you’re going to do going in and then at the bottom of that contract will states “changes in scope will result in changes of fees”.  This way if something comes up – that is an addition it is very clear it will increase the change the price.  

This is where having a producer becomes helpful.  I understand you might be a one-man show. At some point, having someone who is a little bit more client on the business side will be helpful and tell them these things.  Until you get a producer on your team, you need to learn this skill and then the way to manage it is define the scope and then REMINDER that’s a change in scope – we can totally do it BUT there’s a cost associated with it.  

Sometimes the client will say  – “no problem that’s more important to me we add this…how much?”  Now if they are adding a lot – ideally you want to say “okay – well I need to I need to probably step away and look into the details.”  Meaning, I would try and not answer those larger “how much” questions on the fly.  

Now, if you’re shooting and they are trying to change a bunch of stuff on the fly – you can just let them know – hey we need to keep on our plan and if we deviate from the plan that’s going to cause x and y reminding people of the ramifications of changing the scope.  Change in the scope means an increase to the budget, because there we are adding this or that or changing what we originally agreed to.

The keys are – detail up front, then holding yourself and the client accountable to what you agreed to do and finding a great way to talk to them.  Truth is, soft skills and emotional intelligence are so important as a professional creative to be successful.



If you are feel as though you can do better in these areas, you need to ask yourself:

  • What can you do to get better at negotiating?
  • What can you do to get better at body language?
  • What can you do to get better at communicating with my clients?  

There are all kinds of classes on CreativeLive that I recommend that address these skills that you as a creative will need to be successful.  

Classes to consider if you want to get improve your negotiation, body language and people skills:  

The Power of Negotation with Vanessa Van Edwards 

Worth It: Negotiation for Creatives with Ted Leonheardt 

The Power of Body Language with Vanessa Van Edwards

Master Your People Skills with Vanessa Van Edwards




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