He’s cheating on you.
You’re doing everything you used to do for him — all those things he said he loved — but he’s pulling away. Oh, sure, he says you’re still the tops and that he never wants to end his relationship with you, but it’s just not the same as it used to be.
But you know he needs what you’d been giving him. Really needs it. So, if he’s not getting it from you, he must be getting it somewhere else…
Sounds like you’re dealing with reverse scope creep!
Reverse scope creep is killing your relationship
“Reverse scope creep” was a term we came up with in the (free!) Be A Freelance Blogger forum to describe a client condition that’s the opposite of the dreaded “scope creep.” Let me show you what I mean:
Scope creep = When a project slowly gets out of control by becoming much, much larger than what you initially agreed to in your contract. Basically when a client continues to ask you to do “just one more thing” and you do, because you’re too nice for your own good.
Reverse scope creep = When your contract promised you a ton of work but now you’re barely doing anything. For instance, you were told you’d be writing (and getting paid for) 3-4 blog posts per month… but now you’re lucky if you get assigned/paid for one blog post every two months. But your client still “really loves” your work and wants you to continue working with them.
It’s an odd situation to find yourself in as a freelance blogger. There’s a chance you haven’t even come across this problem in your career yet. However, there are four main reasons why reverse scope creep crops up…
1. You were too amazing. Yes, that can happen.
You blew your client out of the water and he just doesn’t know what to do with you. Things were finished much sooner than he expected and now he’s feeling flustered. You were too good and he doesn’t know what to do next. Good for you! Let him gather his wits — hopefully in a timely manner — and try to pace yourself next time. 😉
2. You were terrible
He likes you, but the blogging you did for him was sub-par and he doesn’t know how to break it off with you… So, to paraphrase the words of Diana Ross and the Supremes: He’s keeping you “hangin’ on.” This doesn’t seem likely, as BAFB readers almost always turn in amazing work (we love youuuuu), but it’s a possibility.
3. There isn’t any work. Really!
Sometimes a client thinks they’re going to have a lot of blogging work for you and then they just… don’t. It happens! Sadly, there isn’t a “little blue pill” to spark up a client’s desire for blog posts. You’ll either have to wait until they work through this issue on their own, or bag yourself some more active clients.
4. They’re getting it elsewhere
It’s not your fault. Likely, your client decided to get quick — cheap! — action from some other blogger rather than keep getting the quality blog lovin’ they’ve been getting from you. Ugh. Terrible! The worst part? They want to keep you around “just in case” they end up needing that quality blogging you’re known for after all. Nothing like fixing someone else’s mistakes, am I right?
This is the most common reason for reverse scope creep, in my experience. Don’t worry. You’re still the better blogger. (And probably better-looking! Just saying.)
How to escape from a reverse scope creep relationship
Most relationships, professional or otherwise, have to be renegotiated from time-to-time. It’s nothing to be afraid of.
The first step is realizing that reverse scope creep is happening. Depending on how observant you are, and how extreme the waning of activity is, you may not notice it at first. Once you do, take the following steps:
1. Ask your client about it
Your client may not have realized that anything’s changed. Or they may have forgotten the terms of your initial contract — and how things weren’t supposed to change. Talk to them about it. There’s a chance you might be able to get your relationship back to where it was originally. If not, try the next step.
The last time I was in a reverse scope creep situation, I confronted the client and renegotiated my contract. We ended up with a much, much looser agreement — wherein, if I was “available” and “wanted to” I’d write up an article for him every 2 or 3 months on more of a “one-off” basis (rather than an ongoing locked-in contract). This worked out well because I was then able to fill their original spot on my client roster with someone else.
It was incredibly frustrating being a “staff” writer and being forced to save a spot on my weekly schedule “just in case” that happened to be the week he actually needed me. It didn’t make sense to keep turning away work because I “might” have an article to write that week.
In my case, I was dealing with a fledgling editor who was still learning the ropes, including how to handle the freelance bloggers working for him. For me, being honest about my confusion and frustration was key. And we were able to come to a new agreement that worked for both of us.
3. Say goodbye
Sometimes a project just doesn’t work out. Sometimes you and your client love each other, but you both want entirely different things. If that’s the case, then it’s time to say “goodbye.”
Turn in your two weeks’ notice, just as you would at a traditional job, and use those last two weeks to rock your client’s world. Make him miss you once you’re gone!
…and don’t forget to get a testimonial for your freelance blogger website while your client’s still glowing with appreciation. 😉
Have you ever had to deal with reverse scope creep? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments!