As a freelancer, it’s important to have a contract in place with every client, as this protects both you and the client. This document can also be known as your “terms of business”. What’s included in this contact depends on your specific circumstances and the kind of freelance work you do. However, you can get a good idea of the basic things to include by starting with a template contact for freelancers (a simple Google search reveals many templates).
Once you’ve downloaded a template, here are some of the basic clauses to include and what they mean:
- The parties: Who you are and who the client is.
- The service: What is covered (and importantly not covered) i.e. the scope of the work and the deliverables.
- Cost: The price of the service and the cost for amendments or extras, the payment method, schedule, refund details if applicable, and terms of payment.
- Deadlines: Including time scales and a clause that the project may be delayed if the client doesn’t reply promptly.
- Revisions: How many rounds of revisions and amendments do you offer? Put a limit on this.
- Ownership: Who owns the final product? (Generally, this will be the client, known as an IP or “work for hire” clause). This covers when ownership will transfer i.e. after final payment.
- One point of contact: An agreement that you will only have one point of contact to discuss the project with.
- Delegation: Specify whether you will delegate or outsource all or part of the work.
- Confidentiality: Confidentiality terms to protect both parties, including all data.
- Publicity: An agreement that you can identify the client for marketing purposes.
- Third parties: A clause that says the work you do will not infringe on the IP rights of third parties.
- Conflicts: This covers things that might go wrong. What will happen if the client isn’t happy with the work? What if the client doesn’t pay?
- Termination: The process for either party to end the contract, and reasons for termination.
- Liabilities: General legal terms affecting your ability to deliver the work or causing the client a loss of earnings.
- Employment: Making it clear that neither party is bound to the other and this doesn’t form an employment relationship.
The crucial part of this process is tailoring the template to match your specific needs as a freelancer. It’s important to tailor the contact based on each specific project and the individual client, as every project is different. One way to do this is think back to things that have gone wrong with previous clients and add in clauses that protect you against that problem in future. For example, have you experienced clients asking for multiple rounds of amendments or taking an age to pay up?
Make it legal
Before you start sending it out, ask a lawyer to take a look over the contract to check it’s legally sound. When you’re happy with it, ask each client to sign and date it before doing any work. This will provide vital protection if anything goes wrong—and helps you weed out bad clients before you start working with them. If they don’t want to sign the contract, it’s a sign that all might not be well with the project. If they’re happy to sign, then you can rest assured that you have some back-up should things go wrong.
Any questions on freelance contracts? Comment below or get in touch.