How to Eradicate Annoying Scope Creep

How do you eliminate scope creep without coming across rude? I find a lot of web developers deal with this and are terrified to set boundaries with their clients.

But, you can do it in a way that will actually make your clients like you MORE… not hate you forever. Here’s how:

Tips for Eradicating Scope Creep

I find a lot of web developers, especially newer ones, are terrified of setting boundaries with their clients because they believe no matter how they do it they’ll come across rude.

Your client will get pissed, fire you and tell everyone they know what a jerk you are.


It’s actually the opposite if you approach it right. Setting boundaries creates respect. Clients will see you as more of an expert because you aren’t a “yes man”.

You know when to say no and aren’t afraid to say what you think… and you can do it tactfully.

What that means is setting boundaries and squashing scope creep before it gets started isn’t a “necessary evil”.

In fact, it’s a way to increase your client’s affinity for you and something you should do enthusiastically.

So, here’s how to do it the “right way”:

1. Be a Specialist

Specialists make more. They work less. And, they deal with fewer annoying problems like scope creep.

When you specialize, clients see you as a hired gun brought into accomplish a very specific task. In that context, they rarely even think of increasing the scope of what you’re doing.

When you generalize, the very value you’re offering is the fact that you can do a bunch of different things. That’s what you’re selling!

So, is it any wonder a client tries to add items to your scope of work? It just seems natural.

Think about it from the client’s perspective. How many web developer websites or bios have you seen where the developer lists about 10 different things they’re good at.

Then, has a sales page dedicated to selling you on why they’re so great at each one of those things.

They’re selling themselves as someone who can “do it all”.

Guess what the client then wants?

Someone (YOU) to do it ALL.

Don’t do that.

Specialize. Make more money. Work less hours. Deal with less annoying problems.

2. Manage Expectations

I often say that I spend more time telling clients what I won’t do that what I will do. You HAVE to. It has to be clear from the start what your boundaries are.

When it’s not, clients will always try to push for one more thing. That’s why #1 above is so important. It sets the context.

Click here for the web developer resources I use to learn fast and run my business.

Then, you specifically state the things you won’t do. You likely already know all the common things clients try to get you to do that you don’t want to do.

TELL them that from the start. Make it clear.

Then, even if they do ask… they’ll already know the answer and the “NO” is easy for you.

3. Be Transparent

I’d imagine you already have a handful of horror stories related to scope creep. That’s WHY you’re even interested in knowing how to stop it.

Don’t be afraid to tell those stories and open up about WHY you’re so concerned about it.

The last thing clients want is for their project to be ruined. And, you KNOW it very well could end up that way if you let the scope get out of control.

So, tell them about your experience and open up about your concerns. The more transparent you are, the more they’ll understand you’re reasoning.

Your Challenge

So, good information on eradicating scope creep… but let’s put some teeth to it. Here’s my challenge to you to put this baby into action:

  1. List 5 ways clients try to increase the scope on you.
  2. List 5 experiences where scope creep killed a project.
  3. Write a script for each scenario outlining your “no” answer and the story that goes with it.

When you do this don’t get too caught up in the details of it. The point isn’t to have a copy/paste script. It’s to think it through so you have a framework for your answer.

Then you can adapt your answers to each client and scenario you encounter.

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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