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You just got your first job as a freelance writer. You’re excited and ready to dive in and impress your client. The next thing to do is start writing immediately, right? No. You should ensure a freelance contract or agreement is in place.
A freelance contract or agreement is a written contract signed by both the freelancer and client stating the terms of service for the project or duration they work together.
To direct your work relationships towards a better outcome, you must lead with outlined processes as detailed in your freelance contract. Having a freelance contract in place makes your work streamlined and manageable.
It is important to note that some of your clients may already have freelance contracts in place for work similar to yours. In a case where they offer you one, you do not need to send yours as well. Just make sure to read through the terms thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line.
Independent work or freelance contracts are relatively easy to understand without a lawyer. However, if you are just starting out, ensure you get an experienced freelancer or “lawyer friend” to scan through for absurdities.
Below, we’ll share eight critical details to cover in your freelance contracts.
One rule of thumb is to keep it straightforward. Use language that is easy to understand, and be specific about your statement of work to be done.
Writing a freelance contract that communicates how you work and what your clients during the project ensures that there are no surprises on the job, and you maintain a good relationship with your client.
Critical Details To Cover in Your Freelance Contracts
1. Scope of Work
This covers the services you would deliver to the client, what you would be responsible for. You should be specific in this section.
Instead of: “ABC Writing Agency would provide web content for Power Agency.” Delve deeper and be clear by stating what kind of web content you’d provide.
You can instead write: “ABC Writing Agency would provide web content for Power Agency. This would include four homepages for various products, two About pages, and one Service page.”
Being specific helps your client know what to expect from you.
2. Scope Creep
Sometimes, the project becomes bigger than you initially agreed with the client. You may have to do extra work, which was not within your scope of the agreement. In this case, you may require that your client pays for extra work or hours.
Your terms for doing this should be outlined in the freelance contract. Here’s an example, if you receive a contract to proofread content and when you receive it, realize that the client needs you to edit as well. You can fall back on the contract’s terms, stating the client pays X% extra for extra work and time.
3. Schedule Terms
You should also include the schedule you would work with during this contract. When is the work going to start? How long would it run for? Adding these details to your contract ensures that you and your client are on the same page about timing.
If it is a long-term project, you would also need to include how you would report to them.
For instance, you can write: “ABC Writing Agency would provide details on the progress of the work bi-monthly via email to Power Agency.”
4. Payment Plan
There are various ways to charge clients. The first way is known as the ‘fixed price.‘ This involves setting a project fee based on the variables of your service. For instance, you can charge per number of pages at a fixed rate.
You can also set a price estimate, e.g., “The project is estimated to fall between $3,000 and $5,000 but not over.” Setting prices like this help your clients prepare a budget in a case where prices of materials to be used cannot be ascertained yet.
The second way is to bill your client by time. In this scenario, the client pays for your time spent working on the project.
The point here is to think about the project and choose a payment plan that works best for you and your client.
5. Payment Term
Under payments, you should clearly state your terms as well. Do you need partial payment before you start work? Or do you collect full payment upfront? Do you accept payments in milestones or once at the end of the project?
6. Client’s Note, Copyright, Indemnification Clause, and Confidentiality
The client note is the section you provide in your contract for your client to state any specific need you need to know.
It’s necessary to state who has copyright to the work produced. In many cases, the copyright remains with the freelancer until the client makes full payment.
The indemnification clause states who would bear the cost of damages should anything happen to the content while in the freelancer’s possession.
Most clients require that the information they provide during a project remains confidential. You should state in your contract that you would abide by this.
7. Termination Clause and Change Orders
If, during the project, your client changes orders, you should specify what happens next. If you or your client decide to terminate the contract during the agreed contract period, you should outline how it would be handled.
You should state the circumstances where you’d issue a refund or if the project can be picked back up within a specified period.
8. Review and Renegotiation of Contract
In a long-term project, it may be necessary to review the contract after some time. This helps to reassess the project, services, and other aspects stated in the contract to see if there would be any changes.
Giving your clients a freelance or independent work contract to sign before commencing work makes you more organized and professional. You can refer to it if there are any misunderstandings with your client.