Freelance work is becoming a much more popular option for people in industries such as computer support, marketing, advertising, and obviously writing. If you intend to head out and find your own freelance work, then you should be prepared to provide a contract for your client to review and sign. In most cases, your clients will not have freelance contracts available, and you want to protect yourself with a contract that outlines your agreement in detail.
Below you’ll find my 5 steps to writing a great freelance contract!
1. Keep It Simple
The preferred way of executing a contract is to work with an attorney to create a comprehensive template and then customize that template for each situation. However, if you cannot afford the services of an attorney or would prefer to handle it yourself, then you will want to develop a contract that protects you as much as possible. You can buy a standard work contract at any office supply store, or you can create your own.
If you decide to create your own contract, then be sure to keep the wording very simple. People have a tendency to include a lot of what they perceive to be legal language that makes the contract appear more official, which I wouldn’t recommend. If you don’t know what something means, I’d suggest leaving it out of your contract.
2. Discuss Copyrights
In most cases, clients will want to put their own name on your work. This is called ghostwriting, and it is common in the freelance world. Whether you are creating marketing designs or writing internet copy, you will want to clearly outline how the copyrights for your work will be handled. If you assign all copyrights to your clients, then remember that you cannot use that work for any other client.
3. Outline A Payment Schedule
Never leave any part of your compensation up to interpretation. Your client may feel comfortable developing payment arrangements on the fly, but that idea should make you very nervous. When you create your contract for a freelance client, you need to include every payment detail that applies. For special work, you can include an hourly work rate or other special arrangements. You should never agree to do work that does not have its compensation outlined in the contract.
4. Define The Quality Of Work Requirements
If you are a creative professional, then you might have freelance clients who ask for endless changes to your work before they agree to pay for it. If you are a service provider, then your client could refuse payment if they do not feel your efforts meet their quality standards. The easiest way to keep your customer happy is to outline those quality standards in your contract.
Your contract should outline exactly what your client expects of you, as well as how many revisions to your work are covered by the contract. If there are changes that need to be made to this section as your relationship with the client evolves, then make the changes within the contract and get the client to initial said changes.
5. Establish Deadline Policies
If you do not work on the weekends, then you need to put that in your freelance contract. Remember that you are not entitled to employee benefits, so you should be extremely specific about when you are available to work. If you work on projects, then be sure that there are deadlines set for every project to avoid having to wait an unknown amount of time for a project to be approved for payment.
Legal advice can be expensive, but it is also essential if you want to develop your own freelance work contracts. However, if talking to a lawyer to get real legal advice is not in your immediate budget, then you should be very careful in how you set up your contracts. By keeping the information simple and dealing with real issues such as pay and deadlines, you will be able to develop contracts that you can use to protect yourself and grow your business.