What is a Statement of Work? Why Your Freelance Contract Needs One?

17/09/2017 4 comments

A while ago, on this blog, I posted an article on why every freelancer should consider having a contract when working with new clients. In this article, I’ll to go even deeper into the subject and talk about a very important part of that contract – the statement of work. So, if you want to know what and SOW is and why it is necessary to include one.

What is a Statement of Work?

A statement of work (SOW) is a document that states what work a freelancer is going to complete for the client. Think of it as a project plan allows you and the client to flesh out the different details of the project. For both you as a freelancer and the client, a statement of work sets expectations, meaning that both of you know what you are going to get.

For instance, a SOW lets the client know the following:

  • What they’re going to get from you (end result)
  • By when (time scale)
  • What resources are needed (any extra tools or information they’ll need to provide)
  • Budget (how much money the client will spend on this project)

What Should a Statement of Work Include?

What should a statement of work include?

Naturally, as all projects are different, you won’t find two SOWs that are the same as well. Some projects are more complex, while some cover a fewer items. Likewise, a statement of work may also depend on the type of freelancing you do. In other words, a content writer will use a different SOW than a web developer.

Here are a few items a statement of work can include:

  1. Description of the project

This should be a high-level description of the project explaining what it will cover. Getting into a project without a full description is akin to doing it blind.

  1. Client requirements 

What requirements a final deliverable should have for the project to be deemed successful? In other words, what does the deliverable have to look like to get the nod from a client?

  1. End result

What is the planned end result? What are you planning to deliver at the end of this project?

  1. Milestones

Project phases that you need to meet. Also, this area includes deadlines and timescales. For example, you can state that you’ll deliver the first draft of an article in 48 hours and the final draft in 72 hours.

  1. Reviews or revisions

How are reviews and revisions handled? This can be described for both a milestone or for the entire project. Again, it includes specific reviews and revisions that have to be made. Since these can slow down the project, especially if the client keeps asking for reviews or revisions constantly, a freelancer can state how many of these he’ll do before he starts charging a fee for reviews and revisions. If you’re going to do this, make sure the client is clear about it beforehand.

  1. Copyrights

Basically, who owns the copyright and the intellectual rights for the deliverable, supporting files and the work itself you are producing before and after an invoice is paid. Usually, a client keeps these once he’s paid an invoice to the freelancer, but they belong to the freelancer until then. So, if the¬† client refuses payment, the work he’s produced stays the property of a freelancer.

  1. Scope of work

What the freelancer will do as part of the project and what he’ll not do.

  1. Communiation

The communication between a freelancer and a client must also be clearly stated. What channels they’ll for this? How will the freelancer ask for a feedback?

  1. Support

Any kind of support a freelancer will provide once the product is completed and delivered. For instance, this can include answering comments on a blog post, web page maintenance or something else.

  1. Budget

What budget are you working on? If you haven’t stated in the contract, you should include your rates here as well.


A statement of work is a very important document, much like the contract itself (if not more). In fact, these two can in some cases be combined into one larger document, or they could be separate. Unlike a contract, which states the terms and conditions, a SOW states what you’re going to do exactly. Whether you see them as separate or one document, you should have the client sign both the contract and the statement of work.

Not sure how to create a statement of work? Here’s a useful link to a template SOW: Docracy

Do you have any questions about making a statement of work? Leave a comment below. Did you find the post useful? Feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google + or LinkedIn.