The world of freelancing is full of risks on both ends, avoiding the paperwork is one of the biggest advantage of freelancing but a simple yet effective freelance contract can make a huge difference. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be confusing but you can make a comprehensive and clear contract without much trouble. Additionally the benefits such contracts offer, are worth the little effort.
There are tons of freelance contract templates available and you can draft one yourself; all you have to do is consider few things while doing that. Following are some do’s and don’ts you must remember while drafting a contract for freelancing.
The contract must include two basic things; “who” and “what”. The “who” part defines both parties and obviously the “what” part defines their roles. Even if everyone knows his role and responsibilities, it doesn’t hurt to put that in writing. This is standard part of the contract that defines the job in details. It also makes sure everyone is one the same page as everything is in writing.
Make sure the contract is simple. This is important because no one wants to change his role during the project. Of course you are the only one who knows what you can do and what you can’t. Be specific with the client when informing him about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to particular skills.
The freelance contract should define the deliverables, it should define the final outcome and what would be the final product. This would be extremely useful from both ends. Lot of mess could happen especially in technical work; for example if the client and freelancer are using different operating systems or platforms then the file type of final product could create a problem.
That’s why it is helpful to include delivery details in the contract; it should define what kind of final product you will deliver and what file type you will use. Keep it simple; you don’t need to send all the work related files to the client if you are not asked to.
This is probably the most important part of the freelance contract. The contract must define the deadline for the project or milestones. It is better to define the time frame of different parts of the projects to keep thing manageable and understandable for both parties. For example it is better to define that module A would take 4-5 days and module B would take 7-9 days rather than saying the whole job would take 20 days.
The purpose of freelance contract is to make things easier while protecting both parties at the same time. It doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t need to be unrealistic. Both parties must understand that everything could not possibly be predicted and things could go wrong. So, make sure there is enough room for improving things even if the first version fails. Time zone differences could affect the overall time frame too; for example a client or freelancer can take few hours to respond to a query. So consider that factor too while defining the deadlines.
Here comes the scary part, however it is not as scary as it seems and you can neutralize the risks (or at least minimize them) by implementing few rules and regulations. Of course everyone knows the payment details but putting those details in writing is the least you could do. Make sure you define everything regarding the financials in freelance contract. It should define the payment method (PayPal, bank transfer etc.), the billing method (fixed price job or on per hour basis) as well as everything you can think of.
Depending on what platform you are using (or even if you aren’t using any) you can define cancellation clause and upfront payments. Initial deposit is not a common practice because of the obvious reason but interestingly it can benefit clients too by making sure the freelancer remains committed to the project.
It is not that easy to define how many alterations, modifications and revisions initial fee covers. Plus, it varies depending on the nature of the job, milestones and the overall work. However you can state the basic structure for possible modifications and revisions to ease both parties. It is all about the professionalism and your commitment to the job, in some cases you don’t even need to define this clause.
In other cases, it is better to define the revision or modification fee (if applicable). Freelance contract is meant to give both parties peace of mind rather than putting them in vulnerable situations. Additionally, in some jobs it is not possible to define the next milestone before completing the previous one, and it is also possible the previous task may need some modification because of the change in requirements by the client. So, agree on a reasonable price for revisions.
That is very important part of freelance contract because freelancing means the work could be done online and it also means the work could be copies easily. There are several different ways to make sure the copyrights of the final product or work remain in control of the intended party. For instance NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) that makes sure everything (including the work itself) remains confidential.
Adding a clause about the copyrights of the final work protects both parties because payment and copyrights of the work could be tied with each other in freelance contract. It means the client cannot use that work without paying for it first and the freelancer cannot use that work again after receiving the full payment of that work. Contrary to popular belief, the particular issue is not only related to the writing related work exclusively, but you should do that in other kind of work too like designing and developing.