When you work as a freelancer, it is important to protect your interests by entering into an agreement or a formal contract. Freelancer agreements make the scope of a project clear to everyone, manage expectations, and confirm costs. Some freelancers feel uncomfortable asking clients to sign a contract, but the process doesn’t necessarily have to be that formal. A written agreement, such as an email describing the project, is also effective. It shows that both parties know what it is about and what the outcome will (or should!) Be.
We’ve rounded up some of the most important things a professional contract should be, whatever the format.
The basics of professional contracts
First, cover the basics. You should have the details of both parties written down on both sides of the agreement even though you already know them. You should have a written outline of the work required that both sides read and accept. It should be made clear that you are not an employee and should not be treated like one.
Be specific about the project
You should come up with a very detailed quote, stating what you are going to do and what the customer is getting for their money. It is important that nobody can misunderstand or twist the text of the contract.
Agree on a time frame for delivery
You should agree on a date for the delivery of the project. While deadlines are never much fun, they are important and will also help you plan your other tasks / jobs around this project. That being said, you may need to have some flexibility with the deadlines. Changes to this should be communicated as quickly as possible and accepted by both sides.
Who is your contact person?
Sometimes you get different people from the same organization giving feedback and asking for changes that they may not necessarily have discussed with each other. That makes you work for different people and it gets cluttered quickly. Agree to make someone a single point of contact so that the information you receive is consistent.
Clearly state your hourly, daily or project rate! Think about listing your fee so the customer can see where their money is going. Many customers will underestimate the time and energy invested in preparation and research.
It is a good idea to ask for part of your fee in advance, and the amount should be stated in the contract. Some freelancers prefer installments throughout the project or just 50% before and 50% after.
Does your offer include the cost of changes?
It goes without saying that the client will want some changes to the job. As a freelancer, you should take this into account and try to include around two edits in your fee. Some customers may try to squeeze more work out of you, even if it’s “just a little”. These little things add up and it’s important to get out of the way and not get into the habit of being taken advantage of. Overtime should be paid for.
Terms of payment for freelancer contracts
Invoices usually require customers to pay within 30 days unless you create your own. You also need to decide how you will accept the payment and whether it is convenient for the customer to do so. It is also worth considering whether or not you want to charge late fees. If you do, let your customer know if you can in advance
Would you like to include a cancellation fee?
The kill fee, also known as the cancellation clause, is a procedure used when the client decides to cancel the project halfway through. You should be compensated for the work done as you may have spent that time working on another project. It’s up to you what your killing fee is, but it should at least cover the work you did up until you were quit. In general, most customers will be fine and expecting this clause, and those who aren’t are generally the ones you need the clause for.
Confirm the delivery details
You should agree on how the project will be delivered to the customer. This largely depends on what industry you are in, but whatever type of delivery you choose, make sure it is easy and convenient for the customer. You want this part to go as smoothly as possible if you are hoping for repeat customers.
Who Owns the Intellectual Property Rights?
To avoid having your work stolen, it should be noted in writing that you remain the property of all of your own work until you receive payment. If your customer refuses to pay, they will not be able to legally use your work and you have cause for complaint.
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