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Learning the do's and don'ts of creating a freelance contract template is crucial to getting paid for the freelance work you do and maintaining a good relationship with the client. As a freelancer, you are your own business, and nobody else will handle the paperwork for you. It can be daunting to try to manage your own business like this, but also extremely rewarding. This can be especially true if you have the right tools, documents, and measures in place to protect your business interests.

A freelance contract is one of the most important documents any freelancer can have. It is a legally binding document that serves the main purpose of defining the business relationship between two parties, the client and you as the freelance service provider. No matter if you're just starting out or have been freelancing for years, having a contract is always for your interest and your clients. The contract doesn't need to be unnecessarily long, complicated, or full of legalese. Ultimately, it just needs to outline your relationship with the client; specifying who does what, when, and what happens if that's done (or not).

1. Why do i need a freelance contract template?

A freelance contract can be the one thing that saves you from a lot of business-related stress and heartache. It could be your only protection against being defrauded and your time and resources being wasted. This is because, in any relationship, there can arise conflicts. For instance, you might provide a service to a client, and after delivering it, s/he fails to pay. S/he might also claim that you failed to deliver on your end of the bargain.

The specifics of the conflict are, a contract will protect the interests of both parties. It also provides a basis on which to seek legal redress should you find yourself dealing with a client from hell. Such clients often won’t pay, do so only after a prolonged wait or when faced with legal action, widen the scope of the project without regard to the initial agreement, or simply do things that make your work and life difficult. That’s why a contract is essential; to help you deal with the problems that can arise, including expensive lawsuits, and also define a way out of a troublesome business relationship.

To reap the benefits of a freelance contract, you need to, first of all, create a good one, which both you and your client should sign it to make it binding.

If you don’t know how to prepare one, a freelance contract template will be invaluable to you. You, however, need to pick a template that will work best for you. Take note of these clauses, dos and don'ts when evaluating a contract template for your freelance work.

2. Tips for a great freelance contract template

Follow these tips to make sure your freelance contract template is a perfect fit for the new project you're about to start.

2.1. Clearly, outline what freelance work you will do (and won't do) for the client

This is crucial, especially if there a high chance of grey areas arising. This is important because, without it, there can easily be misinterpretations and errors that can easily lead to costly conflicts. The more details you put in, the fewer opportunities for misunderstandings and common issues like scope creep. Doing this helps you avoid instances where on completion of the freelance job, the client insists that there are other services that you were expected to provide.

If you don’t make what you are supposed to do clear, you might find yourself having to deliver a service that wasn’t part of the deal for the sake of keeping the relationship with the client. Such an occurrence could mean losses for you. Therefore, if you don’t want to learn the hard way, include as much detail as possible on what you will do for the price agreed upon.

For the sake of profits and peace, if people tend to expect a certain service to be part of the deal, you need to explicitly state that you will not provide it.

2.2. Be very clear about time frames in your freelance contract template

When will you deliver the freelance work, how long does the client have to review it, and when will you get paid. These are items of a freelance contract template that should never be taken granted. This is because the lack of clarity on this can lead to trouble between you and your client. The freelance contract needs to give you adequate time to complete the task or deliver the service at or above the expected level of quality. This is essential if the freelance service you are offering is often delayed by certain things. Therefore, you should know your work rhythm and include some extra time for you to deal with things that might arise and prevent on-time completion.  

Making the time frames, clear helps to ensure that things run according to schedule. For instance, if the client needs to review or test a certain part of the project before you continue, the project’s completion can be delayed. If you are still asking yourself why this is important, remember that keeping your word can attract new clients. Your ability and commitment to meeting the deadlines can be a basis on which clients decide whether to call you up again or recommend you to a friend.

2.3. Be very clear about things like intellectual property ownership in your freelance contract template

What happens to the IP before and after the client pays? Do they own the final product or everything that you used to produce that product? This may seem like splitting hairs, but it's important to be clear about these things. Intellectual property rights are so crucial and must be included with any freelance contract template; given that they are a freelancer’s livelihood. Common intellectual property protection methods help guard freelancers and innovators works, but clarity is necessary for terms whether and when these are transferred. After all, clients have been known to grab exclusive rights to freelancer’s mind’s work.

Failure to be clear can leave room for lawsuits. For instance, if you are providing a freelance web design service, you need to be clear on what rights the client has and the rights that you reserve. Can you use the design and graphics for another client? Do the client’s rights extend beyond the logo and site content? These are some of the questions on which you must have a clear answer. If there are intellectual property rights being transferred to the client, it’s important to be clear on when this will happen; after or before payment of agreed-upon fees?

2.4. Be clear about payments in your freelance contract template

Any freelance contract template worth using must address issues of payments with clarity. An issue that you should deal with as you prepare the contract is how you will charge for the service; will it be hourly or fixed?

If fixed, for how long will that rate hold and under what circumstances will the rate be revised after that period elapses? You also need to be clear on retainers and deposits. Another issue that goes hand in hand with payments, timeframes, and services provided is the matter of additional work should also be addressed by the contract.

Commonly referred to as the scope creep, this problem often arises when there’s a service that a client expects, but is not aware that s/he should pay for above the agreed upon price. With a clearly specified scope of work, there should typically be no conflict arising from payment for other work-related but not explicitly stated in the contract. However, assuming that this is clear can leave you open to conflicts, losses, and lawsuits. To avoid these problems, it’s important to include clauses that guard against scope creep, making it clear that additional work is subject to extra payment.

In case the client, unknowingly or being fully aware of it, expands the scope of the project you are working on, a contract that has related clauses will allow you to reassess the payment due without sparking conflict.

2.5. Be clear on the termination terms of your freelance contract template

For one reason or another, it can become necessary for you to terminate a freelance contract. A client may also want to terminate. Each party must be clear on the process and what is required to terminate it so that the relationship ends on a good note. This will help ensure neither party suffers substantial losses. The template should, therefore, include a clause addressing the termination terms. These should include the acceptable grounds for termination, what should be delivered when the contract is terminated, and if, how, and when a notice of termination should be issued.

An important clause that any freelance contract and thus the template should contain is information about kill fees in case of project termination. If a project is terminated midway, you as the freelance contractor can easily be on the losing end. Therefore, to cushion your freelance business from such losses; it is wise to specify kill fee details. These details include the percentage of kill fees to be paid. These could be a flat fee or a stage by stage payment in case of termination. With a kill fee, you can demand for payment for work that you have already done up to the point of receipt of the notice of termination. This way, your time and effort won’t go to waste as you’ll be compensated for it even though it won’t be used.

2.6. Use the right freelance contract template

The specific details that are crucial in a freelance design contract may not be the same as those in a freelance writing or mobile app development project. Therefore, tempting as it may be to stick a single freelance contract template, you should get the right template. Even if it is the same kind of project, some details may still differ depending on factors.

Therefore, for each project you are hired to undertake, you should take a keen look at what the details must be included in the template. You will likely need to modify it to fit the nature of the project at hand. If you are a freelancer offering different types of services such as website design and app development or content writing, you might need different templates for each.

2.7. Have a revisions clause in your freelance contract template

At times, you may need to revise or redo work that you had delivered. This can occur in any type of contract agreements, whether web design or content writing. Having a revision clause in your template can save you from a headache. This is because there are clients who are perfectionists or too confused about what they want such that they are never satisfied. The result is that they keep changing requirements such that you can easily get stuck in an endless cycle of revisions despite having done and delivered exactly what the client wanted. Avoid the endless rewriting, redesigning, repainting, recoding and revising with this clause. Depending on the specifics you include, you could charge more for requirements that are clearly additional or if the revisions exceed a certain number.

As you seek a freelance contract template, make sure that it is legible and that the client won’t have a hard time reading and understanding the content.

Contracts for freelance work are not always entered only between the freelancer and client. At times, a freelancer can also enter into an agreement with subcontractors. These subcontractors are usually hired in order to provide services that the contractor needs to complete the project. These subcontractor agreements follow much of the structure of the contracts between clients and contractors with a few differences. The structure will also depend on the nature of the work to be done.   

3. Things to avoid in your freelance contract

There are some thing you must avoid when it comes to drafting freelance contracts, so read below to be covered just in case you end up in such a situation.

3.1. Don't budge on too many critical points (e.g., scope, payment, IP) just to win a contract 

Yes, when you don’t have that much business coming your way, it is tempting to give in to everything the client wants. However, this doesn’t always result in good fortunes for freelancers. These clients often end up causing more pain and costing more time than they're worth. Use each point as an opportunity to negotiate.

3.2. Don’t forget to include a clause for the number of contact points you will be communicating with in your freelance contract template

Any experienced freelancer knows what a pain working with multiple points of contact can be. In a large company, there are likely different people directly involved in the project. It is therefore easy to find yourself getting conflicting instructions if you are taking them from different people. With a clause streamlining communications between you and the client to having one point of contact, your work will be a lot easier. You won’t waste time and effort working on frequently changing instructions from different people.  

3.3. Don't settle for vague deadlines with your freelance agreement template

Be specific in all parts of the client agreement. It will save you headaches later! Clarity on what should be delivered when and by who should exist in the contract. Vagueness should never be part of the contract, not just in terms of deadlines but also on the deliverables. According to a business lawyer in this Entrepreneur article on freelancing mistakes, ambiguity on the exact services to be delivered is a possible cause for not getting paid and lawsuits being filed. Therefore, always be clear and specific such that there’s no room for different interpretations to be made.

3.4. Don’t overpromise especially when it comes to deadlines and deliverables

You should be aware of your limits and which ones you can push to successfully deliver the required services. It is especially dangerous to promise clients the moon in your contract and charge highly for it, then fail when the time to deliver comes. Overpromising and under-delivering can cost your business reputation, money and customer referrals.

3.5. Don’t forget to have the freelance contract template signed!

All our effort to get a great freelance contract template, customize it to the specifics of the project you will be working on and containing all the necessary clauses can end up useless without the signatures. Our effort will amount to naught should conflicts arise, and you find that the contract you thought all along would provide you some protection is not legally binding. Make sure that once you agree to the terms, your client or a representative with authority to enter into agreements on their behalf append a signature to it.

4. How to create a freelance agreement template

Besides learning to cope with the stiff market competition as a freelancer, you’d learn upon launching your business that handling paperwork is perhaps 10 times more demanding than what you've ever imagined. Formulating a professional freelance agreement may be new to you, even savvy consultants and freelancers may find it tedious to create one for anew business relationship. One of the ways to get set for new contracts is by getting a  standard freelance agreement template.

Perhaps a golden opportunity I staring at your face, but it is never going to start until you come to an agreement with the client with an agreement to seal the contract. There you are thinking about what to do, straight to Google, or think of another plan.

Save your time; we have the details of a professional freelance agreement template here plus an opportunity to download the template.

Freelance Contract Template
Image Credits: template.net

4.1. The need for a freelance agreement

Freelancers and individual consultants must sign an agreement before commencing work for clients. The Freelancers Union reports that 70% of freelancers have been stiffed, besides the number that has faced frustrations and unfavorable circumstances as a result of not having a binding contract in place before starting a project. Besides protecting your interest and that of your client with a solid freelance agreement, articulating a detailed contract shows to your client that you are a professional.

4.2. Essentials of a freelance agreement template

If you miss anything from a contract, ensure your ideal freelance agreement template is not void of the following information.

4.2.1. Client & contractor information

This section of your simply introduces the information of the parties involved. It also gives an overview of the contract. It should state name your name and that of the client as well a the services you will provide.

4.2.2. Scope of project

You won't want to be caught in the web of performing one task while your client claims it wat the agreed one. The scope of the project covers what to be done, the add-ons, and the number of revisions permitted. Establish your guidelines and scope so that you will have evidence to prove you've done the needful in a situation where your client change the deliverables.

4.2.3. Terms & conditions

Stating your terms and condition help avoid confusion about project expectation. Establish your requirements, payment terms, how you want to get paid, and the due date. Some freelancers charge per hour while others agree on a fixed rate for their contracts. Others may request upfront payment followed by balance after project completion.

4.2.4. Changes & revisions

An ideal freelance agreement template should give room for revisions and additions. However, the agreement should protect you from clients who are hardly satisfied with needing multiple revisions.

4.2.5. Payment

There should be clear terms about your payment, and lack of it may leave room for delay from your clients. Business and employment lawyer Nancy Greene some freelancers make mistakes of not spelling their services and rates. She said, "ambiguity stops you from getting paid, and may, in fact, get you sued. 

4.2.6. Termination

The agreement should contain situations that may warrant termination of the contract. The clause should be explicit for either of the party to walkway if the relationship isn't working. A termination clause would help prepare for the loss of income as a result of failed contracts.

4.2.7. Signatures

Your freelance agreement template isn’t a contract if it void of your signature and that of your client.

4.2.8. Confidentiality & intellectual property rights

An ideal freelance agreement should protect the confidential information of parties involved and trade secrets shared to enhance project execution. It should also state the parties that retain the right to existing and new intellectual properties resulting from the contract.

Freelance Contract Template Sample
Image Credits: template.net

5. How to create a freelance employment contract template

A freelance employment contract is one of the most important business documents for freelancers and their employers. It is one document needed to legalize the employment of a freelancer and to spell out the terms of the employment. Before going any further, we will like to define what a contract is.

Any document that specifies the terms of the employment relationship that exists between a freelancer and the person (or firm) hiring the freelancer is a freelance employment contract. Such legal documents must spell out the expectations of both parties in the employment relationship. The document protects the interest of both parties involved.

5.1. What is included in the freelance employment contract?

So that a contract is legally binding on both parties, certain fields must be included in it while drafting it. As a result, you should know what should be included in the freelance employment contract. We have discussed with some experts in the field of freelancing and law so that we can get the best information for you.

From our findings, there is no strict rule as regards what must be included in a freelancer’s employment contract, but there are certain essential fields that must be included. Below are these essential fields:

  • Name fields – the document must include the names of the freelance consultant and the company hiring the freelancer.
  • Expectations of both parties – here, the details of the services expected from the freelancer and the cost (expected to be paid by the company) of delivering such services are spelled out.
  • Duration of work – the timeline of the project is written down, so the freelancer will know the delivery deadline for milestones (if any) and the entire project. Also, the payment schedule is stated clearly too.
  • Terms of payment – both parties are meant to understand the terms of payment here.
  • The role of the freelance contractor is clarified legally
  • Signatures and dates – both parties are meant to sign the document with dates for it to be legally binding on them.

5.2. Why is the freelance contract template important?

Every company wants to have a signed contract when employing anybody so that the contract can be provided for financial accounting or legal purposes. However, there are other reasons why a freelance contract is important, most especially as it relates to freelancers.

A freelance employment contract can help to shield a freelance contractor from dubious and cunny employers. Since the contract contains the details of the job, it will be almost impossible for any of the parties to start asking for what was not there from the start of the contract, except if there is provision for that in the contract.

Such a contract will put both parties on their toes before and after signing the contract. Usually, both parties consider properly the terms of the agreement before signing it to avert any future disagreement.

5.3. How to draft a freelance hire contract

Drafting a freelance agreement requires some form of expertise. That is why we advise freelancers that they should either use templates that are available online or hire a professional to help draft it. If you are making use of online freelance employment contract templates, make sure the one you are using contains all the essential fields we discussed earlier in this article.

Freelance Contract Template Example
Image credits: template.net

6. How to create a freelance contract with milestone payment

The biggest risk clients have to put up with when looking for freelancers to assign some tasks to is the quality of the finished product. Many freelancers have not put quality control measures in place. Similarly, freelancers also face one of their biggest fears when bidding for or getting work from their clients. The biggest fear for freelancers is getting paid. It's because of this that many freelancing platforms have created freelancer milestone payment. Any freelancer worth his weight in gold who doesn't maximize this arrangement should be ready for disappointment.

Working as a freelancer makes it difficult for clients and workers to meet. In such cases, both freelancer and client have to find ways of trusting each other. The client has to trust the freelancer to do quality work. As for his part, the freelancer has to trust the client to pay the full amount and on time once he completes the project. Trust is a crucial quality in running a business, as the highly acclaimed fortune.com published a few years ago. However, clients and freelancers who find it impossible to trust each other can rely on freelance milestone payment.

The milestone payment doesn't favor one person alone. It favors both the client and employer in equal measure. Under this system, a client releases full or staggered payments depending on the objectives the freelancer has fulfilled. The system also supports freelancers and clients who have adhered to the desired schedule. The employer or client decides the amount to set aside for each milestone or objective. It's OK for freelancers to set their own milestones. Milestone payments are great because of the security and motivation they extend to freelancers and clients alike.

The client can't cancel a milestone payment. The freelancer can't release the funds in milestone payment. This arrangement gives each party a 50 percent control over the milestone. The client is the only one mandated to release the milestone payment. On the other hand, the freelancer is the only one mandated to cancel the payment. With such solid controls in place, it's little wonder more freelancers and clients prefer this form of payment. Other payment methods that all freelancers and clients should embrace include:

  1. PayPal
  2. Payoneer
  3. QuickBooks
  4. Venmo
  5. Dwolla

Therefore, insist on freelancer milestone payment any time you wish do some freelancing work. It will spare you the headache and stress associated with fears of lack of payment.

7. How to create a freelance contract with payment terms

Customers need to know all your freelance payment terms as early as possible. Do not proceed with the work until you explain the terms to all your clients. According to Human Resource Management, customers are worth listening to almost all the time. Today's customer has several platforms that he can use to make your life unbearable. He has tools such as social media sites where he can share information regarding your business that tarnishes your name and leads to huge financial losses. Therefore, spend time clarifying payment terms.

Any customer you come across today already knows what he wants. The only challenge he has is finding the time to do the job he wants to assign to you. He also probably doesn't have the right skills or experience needed to do a good job; hence, the reason he relies on you. A customer should never have to second guess what you mean by some of the terms. The terms should be clear and written down. Avoid trying to clarify terms over the phone; as such conversations are impossible to record. Emails can act as references in case the client needs further clarification.

Do not forget that today's customer is more empowered. He has more buying power than the previous generations. Clarifying the terms shows your willingness to listen to your clients. It also shows that you're concerned. Clarifying such terms helps you to know what the customer wants. According to Harvard Business Review, a good business person knows what his clients want before they do. It's not good business practice to ignore your customers. The market is full of many suppliers and your clients would not think twice about leaving if they feel ignored.

The biggest goal of running a business is to see it grow and outlive the owner. You should do whatever it takes to avoid running your business aground. One way of doing this is by listening to your customers, which you can do by clarifying the freelance payment terms to them. Ask the customers for feedback, which is essential for any business that wants to improve. Asking for feedback is wrong if you don't intend to act on it. The feedback from your customers could help you discover what your competitors are doing.

Therefore, clarify freelance payment terms to all your customers. Avoid waiting until the last minute to clarify such crucial issues. Whether the client pays or not depends on the understanding he has on the payment terms. Lack of clarify and understanding does not affect the client, it affects you. Clarifying such matters to the customers makes them feel valued. Forming such habits shows the customer that your business is focused on him. Such a habit makes customers feel an important cog in taking the business to the promised land.

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