What is a freelance writer contract?
A freelance writing contract is a legally binding document that ties the freelancer and the hiring client to an agreed scope of work. Freelance writers send contracts to have written confirmation for pay, workload, project timeframe, and more.
Both parties benefit from a freelance writing contract as all stakeholders know exactly what is expected of them and clearly understand the minutest of details within the writing services. This written agreement is an absolute must for any freelance writing business if you hope to grow.
Sign-up now to get your freelance writer contract for free. Bonsai will guide you through your contract setup, and you'll have a legally vetted writer's contract in no time at all.
Why you need a writers' agreement template
Every freelance writer needs to be sending out a legal contract to all their clients, no matter if they come from a referral or not. It's legal advice 101. Don't feel like by insisting on your freelance writing contract is signed before you start work that you're doing your client an injustice.
These agreements are in place to inform the client of what they can expect with the writing project or retainer and are the best starting point to any professional relationship.
Your contract will ensure the client agrees on the scope of work, pay, and working process. They'll also ensure the writer agrees to the client's needs. For example, payment terms and any work delivery dates the client asks.
Hopefully, you're now in a headspace where you know that as an independent contractor in the content world, you need more than a standard contract to protect you and before you start any writing project. Let's look at what you need to include in your contract.
What should be included in a freelance writer agreement contract?
If you want to take contract writing into your own hands, everything you should include in your freelance writer contract is below. If you need a client contract right now, sign up for Bonsai, and you'll have a professionally vetted written agreement in minutes.
Detailed descriptions of the work
When getting new freelance writing clients, you need a detailed description of the work to be completed. This section of your freelance writer contract should detail the scope of work and the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved. Clearly define who is responsible for what. A few roles to consider are:
- The person delivering the briefs
- The editor
- The writer
- The publisher
- The 'author'—is the writer ghostwriting, or will their name be attached to the work?
Doing this will bring everyone on the same page and stop anyone from pointing fingers should things not turn out as expected further down the line.
Delivery date and timeline of work
Freelance writers tend to split their workload between retainer clients and project work that comes their way. Consider whether this particular client is going on a retainer contract or a project-orientated contract before you assign delivery dates of work.
Relevant information to consider here is:
- Workload per month or per quarter
- First draft deadlines
- Feedback process and timeframe for edits
- Rollover work policy (if a brief or article is delivered late)
Payment details are a big one for any independent contractor, not only freelance writers. In this section, map out how you're going to be paid. For example, mention whether it's a direct deposit to your bank account or via an online payment service like Stripe or Paypal.
Plus, outline when you expect payment and any legal services involved should the payment specifics not be met.
Align on whether it's a one-off fee or a recurring payment; you'll be surprised by how many clients don't understand your rates! It's good to include any invoice information in this section, as this info can often be useful when doing your end-of-year taxes.
Intellectual property and usage rights
Once your writing and any related documents that support your research are in the client's hands, whose is it? This ownership is so important to make clear in your contract.
Can you re-publish the work anywhere else? For example, in your portfolio?
Can the client do whatever they wish with it? For example, use your writing in a blog article as well as social media posts?
Define all of this info here.
There's a high chance you may have access to some sensitive information as a writer for a business. They'll have done user research, a style guide, competitor analysis, or something else to better support their business growth.
Your client will be sharing this valuable information with you throughout your time with them. A confidentiality agreement will give peace of mind to your client that their sensitive information is in safe hands.
Some of the best legal advice you'll receive as a freelance writer is to include a cancellation clause in every contract you create. Cancellations happen, for various reasons, so it's important to map out what's an acceptable reason to cancel your contract and what isn't.
You'll also want to note the days of notice either party needs to give and what happens in the case of a mutual cancellation of the contract. In this case, the notice period may be shorter.
A kill fee is very much up for negotiation. It's a percentage of the full payment the writer will receive should the client no longer wish to publish their finished piece.
This is typically because the client has had a change of strategy and has nothing to do with the quality of the writer's work. The client and writer agree on this in a contract, and it can save many awkward moments should work not get published.
Termination of contract
There will be occasions where your freelance writer contract needs to be terminated. This is of immediate effect and is usually because either party breaches the contract to a drastic level.
This section of your contract determines what happens in case of a termination and how both parties will go about it.
Last, but not least, it's time to include everything else around your work for hire. This could include:
- Access to tools
- Liability to responses
- Dispute resolution
- Additional expenses
- Appropriate business days
- Online hours if working remotely
- Lawyer contact details, if you have one
That's it! Your contract should be complete. It's time to get signing and start working with your new client.
If this sounds a little overwhelming to you, read on to learn how you can get the perfect contract in a few clicks.
Simple freelance writer contract template
It's time to get things moving with your free writer contract template. Grab your legally-vetted agreement here, make any tweaks you need so that it makes sense to you and your client, and start focusing on doing what you love—writing!
What's the benefit of using Bonsai, instead of editing a template yourself?
Agreement templates from Bonsai are already legally vetted and ready to go. Freelancers notoriously have many tasks to manage, and a Bonsai contract template can streamline your business operations so you can work more efficiently.
How to create a writer agreement contract with Bonsai
Creating a contract with Bonsai is simple and done in just a few steps.
- Sign up for the Bonsai tool
- Select whether you want to start a contract from scratch or use one of the contract templates
- Make any edits you need
- Get your contract signed online and legally binding
It's that simple.
Freelance writer contract template FAQs
Do freelance writers need contracts?
100% yes. Contracts are your go-to resource to ensure you're protected in your work agreement. Of all freelance roles, writers need contracts to align on project scope, usage rights of work, kill fees, and more.
How much do freelance contract writers make?
Freelance writers can make anything from $26,000 to $104,000 per year. Of course, there is a huge difference between the bottom and top end of these rates. However, this depends on the type of writing you do, your clients, and your experience.