How to Write a Freelance Work Contract that Improves Your Relationships with Clients

How to Write a Freelance Work Contract that Improves Your Relationships with Clients

Written by Timothy Ware

Freelance work can be a liberating experience. You can choose when to work, how much to work, and even where to work. But these benefits come at the expense of increased insecurity.

One important way to reduce that insecurity is to write a freelance work contract that is signed by you and your clients. A freelance work contract should explicate all of the expectations of both parties to make the work process smoother.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about freelance work contracts including how to write a freelance work contract. (You should also take a look at my recent post on how to set up your LinkedIn profile to drive clients to your inbox and companion article about how to list freelance work on your resume too.)

Whatever freelance niche you work in, SignTime has you covered with this recent article detailing everything you need to know to draft your own freelance work contracts as well as links to helpful templates for use in every industry.

What is a freelance work contract?

A freelance work contract is drafted by either the company or the freelance employee and dictates the terms of the business arrangement. It can include details of the project, the amount to be paid, the expected turnaround time, and anything else that will improve the relationship between the parties.

Why should freelancers have a contract?

On the surface, most freelancers and companies would expect that the key benefit of a freelance contract is the legal protection that it affords. However, it is incredibly rare for contracts to result in legal action.

Here is how the co-founder and CEO of SignTime Jim Weisser puts it: “One thing that I found is that contracts are basically non-enforceable. Contracts are useful only for remembering the agreement that you and a counterparty came to. That’s because, if you end up at the point where you have to litigate with someone, you’ve lost, if you’re a small, fast-moving business.”

The true benefit of a freelancer contract is that it normalizes the relationship between the freelancer and the company. Both parties know exactly what is expected of them, which leads to a friendlier and more professional relationship.

10 articles that you need to include when writing a freelance work contract

Here are the 10 articles you need to include when writing a freelance work contract.

1. Names, contact information, and dates

At the top, include your full name and contact information (your address, email address, and phone number), as well as those of the client. These should be at the top right and left of the agreement, respectively. Then, give each person a role, stating for example “In the following Company” and “In the following Freelancer,” respectively. For the rest of the contract, use these terms instead of the company’s proper name or the freelancer’s name.

This makes things easier to understand. It also means that you can recycle parts of the contract in the future.

After that, add the date that the contract takes effect as well as the ending contract date if there is one. When there is no clear ending date, I usually add the 31st December of the current year and then “with the contract persisting thereafter until either party gives one-month notice of intention to alter or terminate the agreement.”

2. Your position

This part defines exactly what your role is and how you’ll be paid. This includes your deliverables, responsibilities, and workload expectations. You can tie these items to the following payment information section.

3. Payment information

This defines how you are paid (per hour, per job, etc.), how often you are paid (weekly, monthly, quarterly, or after each completed project), and how much you are paid.

4. Deadlines

This section defines when different projects are due. You should consider how much work you can do per day or week and then work backwards to determine what a reasonable turnaround time might be.

5. Ownership

Generally, you will be transferring the ownership of anything you produce to your client, but that isn’t necessarily the case. This also doesn’t mean that you won’t be credited or can’t use the work as part of a portfolio.

This is the section where you define who owns anything produced and whether the creator has any rights to be credited.

6. Confidential information

Clients may need to provide freelancers with confidential information that shouldn’t be shared outside the company. Conversely, freelancers often share private banking details with the company. This is where you affirm your two-way confidentiality.

7. Independent contractor terms

These terms define what it means to be an independent contractor. In this case, the freelancer states they are responsible for any taxes, while the client confirms they will not force a specific schedule on the freelancer.

8. Limitation of liability

This part states that neither party can be held responsible for a breach of contract that could not be reasonably expected.

9. Termination terms

If the contract is for one specific project, then the termination term will state that the contract ends when the project has been accepted. If there is to be an on-going relationship, then the termination terms are usually due to fault, or without fault provided some amount of notice.

10.  Indemnity

Indemnity just means protection against a loss, usually financial. This part stipulates that if one party suffers a financial loss due to the other’s negligence, then they will pay restitution.

Tips on how to write a freelance work contract

Now that you’ve seen the basic outline of a freelance work contract, here are some specific tips on making your contract better.

1. Be specific

Be sure you state precisely what you are offering. If you offer content, is it to be edited by a third party before being submitted? Do you offer rewrites, and if so how many?

2. Use plain language

The contract should be designed to foster the relationship between the freelancer and company. Legalese is not going to help with that goal.

3. Be concise

While you should be specific about the tasks you will do, your turnaround time, how much you charge, and so on, you don’t need to go into too much detail. If it doesn’t make things clearer and easier to follow, then it doesn’t need to be in the contract.

Write a freelance contract to improve your working relationships

The most valuable assets a freelancer has are the relationships they cultivate with their clients. A good, easy-to-read but specific and detailed contract is the best way to keep those relationships safe.

Whatever industry you freelance in, SignTime is there to help. With convenient e-signature capabilities, you’ll get signed contracts back from your clients in record time.

With an easy-to-access and organized online contract repository, never search for important paperwork again.

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