Contracts protect you in infinite ways as a freelancer. When's the last time you reviewed yours and updated policies?
There are tons of pieces to incorporate into a solid contract, and a small business attorney can help you craft one that will protect you as much as possible (more on that later).
For now, here are just four pieces of a great freelance contract to get you thinking:
1. Your Designed Alliance
Yes, a contract may be a legally binding document. But it also serves as the written record of designing an alliance that ensures both parties feel like their boundaries are set.
Use your contract as a document that you both can come back to when needed to ensure what you agreed upon is happening.
Then, you have a written reference when it comes down to tougher conversations like, "In our contract, you agreed that if I didn't get your input by [due date], then I'd be able to prioritize other clients before coming back to our project by [date]." The contract backs you up.
2. A Kill Fee
What happens when a client all of a sudden decides to pull the plug on a contract without cause?
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for a business to drain their budget and tell you they want to close the contract prematurely. And that happens most often when freelancers don't have a tight contract.
A kill fee instructs what the client will pay in order to cancel a contract. That can be crucial when it comes to retainers or long-term/regular clients, because you want to protect yourself if you're going to lose a key client.
3. Client Expectations
When it comes to your work, what do you need from your client? Maybe it includes access to certain software or login credentials, feedback on projects by a certain date, or raw material from the client for you to work your magic on?
A contract can outline exactly what you need and when you need it, which also means spelling out ramifications if those aren't met on time.
You can explain how when a client doesn't meet the contract expectations, it deprioritizes their project, since you have a handful of clients to work with.
4. Explicit Billing Policies
Payment is one of the most important facets of business to dig into within a contract. You need to be crystal-clear on billing policies and expectations before starting work with a client.
State when payment is expected by, the penalty for not receiving payment in that time, rush fees, etc. Perhaps it drives you nuts when you don't hear from a client after a month, not for lack of you reaching out. You could put it in your contract that if there's no client response after a month, you get to assume the contract is on pause, and it'll cost some predetermined amount of money to restart the contract when the client reaches back out.
Wouldn't it be way easier if you had a contract template to plug-and-play with your business?
That's why I'm so happy to share a new resource for freelancers...
Just A Wild Thought is teaming up with Chicky to bring you contract templates for creatives and freelancers! But first...
On October 12th, join small business attorney Kat O'Neill for an Expert Session all about contracts, client agreements, and how to protect yourself as a freelancer and creative in the outdoors industry.
Following an overview about why written agreements are essential and how to use them in your freelance/creative business, we'll open the conversation to you to answer your most important questions. Make sure your most pressing contract questions are answered by a real professional (and not just your fellow freelancers like we all do ;) ).