Freelancing 101- All About Contracts

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Contracts Are A Must for Good Working Relationships

Freelancing comes with many benefits such as flexible work hours and working from home, however, one of the more difficult aspects for freelancers is to ensure that they are not left with a client that doesn’t pay. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon scenario. Since the relationship is usually virtual, there is a distance which can lead to some clients feeling like they can stiff the bill and get away with it. Setting yourself up with a good contract straight away will help keep your client honest and provides for a healthy working relationship.

Here are some helpful tips to creating a contract that fits the freelancing setup.

Where To Start With Your Freelancing Contract

There are many contract templates online which we will post at the bottom, but before you use a template make sure you write down what is important for you in your contract. Things such as; how you want to get paid, how often, in what currency etc are unique to you and your freelance business.

Project Basics

Start with the details of the project. Basically, list out exactly what you are being hired to do and who is hiring you. Make sure you get that legal name and billing address correct.

Project Timelines

Trust is everything with freelancing relationships, especially in the beginning. By providing a contract with clear terms, you set yourself up for a more trusting relationship right from the get go. Begin that trust with the timeline for your project. Include information about when you expect to complete projects and how you intend to communicate this. For example, if you have monthly milestones, it is helpful to include them in your contract so that your client can expect to see completed material by such a date and time. Timelines protect you from a client claiming you did not provide them with what they had asked for so set those terms and stick to them. If there will be timeline setbacks, write out in the contract what happens in those scenarios. Include a clause that allows you to have some discretion on the timeline or that this timeline can be adjusted if there is an agreed amendment by both parties via email.

Payment Details

How you will be invoicing, when will you be invoicing and to whom? These are the most important details but in addition you should include things like;

  • Currency Type
  • Late Payment Penalties
  • Deposit Details
  • Refund Details
  • Additional Charges

Revisions + Alterations

Outline how many revisions come with each part of the project. Trust us on this one. Make it clear at this point that excessive revisions will cause their project estimate to go up. Include an hourly rate AND that excessive revisions could cause a missed completion date.

Client Responsibilities

Ensure that you have all the information that is needed to complete your project. Discuss the access you need in advance and then ensure this is understood by adding it to your contract with a date from the client of when you need to receive access. Typical access for freelancers would be to things like:

  • Shared Drives
  • Photos
  • Marketing Material
  • Logo Files
  • Logins
  • Company Branding Information
  • List of Contacts

Rights of Ownership

Who will own the work in the end? Generally speaking, once the work has been paid for, the client owns it. However, it is also not uncommon to include the following details:

  • Allowing you to be able to share samples of your work on your website or portfolio
  • Ensuring that your work can not be altered without permission
  • Credit to be given to you on any promotions where your work is featured

Outlining this in the beginning is very important for all sorts of copyright infringement issues.

Non Disclosure Agreement

This is something many clients may want included and helps establish that trust. A non disclosure agreement ensures that the parties agree to enter into a confidential relationship with respect to the disclosure of certain proprietary and confidential information.

Termination Details

All good things must come to an end. Make sure they come to an end in a respectful manner. Include project completion dates as well of terms of termination in every contract. Another helpful clause you should consider is adding a “kill fee”. This protects you in the event the project is suddenly canceled for reasons out of your control but you had already done work on it. A percentage of payment anywhere between 25% and 50% is acceptable and depends on the scope of the work and how much was completed.

Sign, Seal, Deliver

Make sure the contract is signed before starting. Using an app like DocuSign makes this so easy.

Additional Resources

That covers it. For more information on freelance contracts be sure to check back and see our resource library. In the meantime here is a hand list of online templates!

Freelance Contract Template

Freelance Contract Template

Freelance Contract Template

Freelance Contract Template

Freelance Contract Clauses

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Posted in Resources, Freelancing For Beginners, Freelancing Tips on Jun 07, 2017

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