Contracts are good for business. They’re the backbone of a successful and long-lasting freelance business.
Most freelancers have presented their own contract to a client at least once.
The main purpose of a contract is to protect the parties that enter it. Contracts consist of ‘clauses’ that lay out various details about the agreement such as, the deadline of the project, the fee, circumstances that might end the contract, etc.
A project timeline
When creating a contract, freelancers need to include exactly what service they will offer the client, detailing every step they would need to take to finish the project. This makes the contract similar to a project timeline.
Contracts also make you look more professional and serious about providing a great service.
If mentioning a contract is met by fear from your client, let them walk. You’ll be avoiding a person who would either not pay you, or demand extra stuff that you didn’t discuss. In other words, a contract is safeguarding you from projects that either are a loss of time or money.
The fact is that there are hundreds if not thousands of free templates but the good ones are usually locked behind paywalls. So, if you want a good quality contract, most of the time you have to pay a little. Trust us, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Writing your own contracts
If you know where to look, writing your own contract isn’t as hard as it sounds.
To prepare a legally binding contract, you don’t need a law degree. With some common knowledge and a little assistance, you can easily write a clear, and binding contract all by yourself.
Don’t worry about trying to sound like a lawyer, either. A functioning contract is best written in plain English where you and all the parties actually understand what the document says.
Lay it out on the line
Make sure you document every detail of the project clearly, including the deadline, payment rates, termination clauses, tools that will be used, people involved in the project, and of course, payment terms.
If you run into a problem, you can refer back to the contract down the track. Or if there’s some clash with the client, you’ll have the contract to refer back to.
Include a termination clause
Not every project gets completed and not every client and freelancer gets along. Sometimes, due to factors outside of your control, you might need to terminate the contract early. That’s why it’s crucial to include a termination clause in your contract.
Negotiating and including how the termination process should be handled with the client will make sure both parties walk away without being out of pocket.
Include a timeline
As you discuss the project with your client, write down every step and if possible include deadlines. This will help you to calculate your cost and also convince the client that you are the right person to finish the project.
Whether you charge hourly or charge by the project, including your payment rates with the total amount is one of the most important steps. It’s also a good idea to add how you will charge if or when extra work is requested from you. This way you can prevent yourself from doing extra work for free.
Downloading a free contract template
There’s so many templates contracts out there. If you decide to go the “easy” path, you should try to be a little picky. Here are some points to keep in mind when browsing through those gigantic template directories:
- Jurisdiction: Every country has its own legal system. What might work in one, might not cover the state you live in, or the state the client’s head office is based in.
- Accountability: Writing a contract is extremely simple. Anyone with access to templates can write one. So, be careful and pick a template that actually functions as a contract.
- Functionality: Does the contract cover your line of work? For example, a photographer needs an entirely different contract than a copywriter. The contract should be designed specifically for your specialty and should have all of the clauses needed. Make sure that it doesn’t miss a single point.
Write your own or download a template?
It’s always better to prepare your own contract. Just like the photography example, if your line of work requires a lot of details or a custom layout for the contract, rather than searching for the perfect template, you can prepare your own much faster. And the best part? You get to keep your own contract so you can use it as a template later on.
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