What to Include in Your Contract as a Freelancer
The legal stuff you need to know
Knowing what to include in your contract as a freelancer is a must for all self-employed. Although every contract between a freelancer and a client may be different, it’s key that you know what elements it should include. Whether it’s the time frame, the pay, or the expectations you need to make sure you state them clearly. Therefore, ensuring you spend the appropriate amount of time and attention on your contract will ensure you don’t miss anything important. A contract also ensures you and your client will be protected, so neither party can act in a way that’s detrimental to the other.
It’s something you will always want to spend time on, as a legal document is not to be taken lightly, however, with more understanding and templates, your experience will become a lot easier.
From the beginning, you will want to ensure the contract outlines who is involved. Include both your name and the clients’ name, alongside contact details, such as phone numbers, addresses, and emails.
Another handy thing to do is to define any legal or freelance jargon. For example, as you might both be businesses, use terms that signify who is the client and who is the freelancer. In contracts where two sole traders are forming a contract with each other, then ensure you use terms to distinguish this.
Another crucial element of any contract is to ensure that expectations are completely outlined. Clarify what the freelancer is expected to complete or produce. Lay out what the project is, what the end goal is, and what the expected time frame will be. Be specific with this as well – so write out exactly what your responsibilities will be much like a job advert, as you don’t want to be caught out with more responsibility due to a vague contract.
This will also help to avoid any surprises or expectations that your client can extend the work for little to no extra money. To ensure that your client is satisfied, you can include a clause for dissatisfaction, for example, writers and editors can include that a certain number of revisions and edits can be made after the project ends.
Timescales are usually more tenuous, as exact dates can’t always be met or included, but it is important that deadlines are adhered to closely and that an anticipated date for final deadlines is established. So, include the date on which the working relationship begins and when it is expected to end. And perhaps if there are any repercussions for missed deadlines.
What you need
Depending on the trade, not all freelancers can work with a laptop and internet access. The contract is a great way to guarantee your client offers you all the resources they can to give you the best chance at doing an impressive job and meeting their expectations.
If there are any costs the client must bear, make sure this is stipulated in the contract. For example, the client might be responsible for any travel expenses to and from sites and offices. If the client requires you to use a specific software or specialist equipment that you don’t already have, ensure it is established who bears the cost.
There are many angles to this part of the contract. It is important to figure out how your pay is calculated, for example, will you be paid daily, hourly, or for the completed project? Once you have figured out which better suits you, highlight the time involved, so if you are paid hourly, include a prediction for how many hours a day you anticipate working.
It’s also worth including the method of payment, whether through bank transfer or cash – just to ensure there are no delays or squabbles when the time arrives. Usually, payments are initiated by the freelancer raising an invoice which often gives the client 30 days to pay.
It is also worth noting in the contract which date or dates you expect to get paid. Perhaps you wish to get paid weekly or at the end of the project. When taking on big projects that will block out a lot many freelancers establish that a retainer is paid. This is almost like a deposit, where the client pays a percentage of the overall project upfront, or in situations where the project is ongoing, indefinitely.
On top of this, late payments can be really disheartening and inconvenient to freelancers. It’s good to mention that any late payments from the client will be charged interest. On top of this, be sure to establish that there are cancellation terms and kill fees. If the client wishes to end the project early, what fees will they need to pay?
One that can often be forgotten about by newer freelancers and clients is IP. If your service results in a finished product, for example, a logo or an article, you will need to establish who owns that product throughout the process. For example, you might establish that you own the work until the final payment is met, so the client can’t run off with your work without paying you first. Clients will often expect to own the work at the end of the project.
For more complex clauses, for example, owning the work after the project, or for higher stakes and value work, it might be worth seeking legal advice for your contract. The consequences of this going wrong could really affect your livelihood, so consider it an investment into a template for future contracts.
Before you go
Now that you know what to include in your contract as a freelancer, we hope you now feel more confident forming agreements with your clients. If you found these tips helpful, be sure to check out How to Price Yourself as a Freelancer as the next step in your freelance journey. Still, wondering if freelancing is for you? These articles are sure to lead you in the right direction: Top 5 Reasons Why Freelancing is Better Than A Job and Why You Should Start Freelancing.
Freelance marketplace: Revolancer