How to Sign a Contract Online

11

Min Read

Matthew Brown

Are you wondering how to sign a contract online?

Signing a contract online with electronic signature software is simple. All you need to do is create or upload the contract, fill it out, and click "add signature". After that, all that's left to do is hit "send".

If you're operating a newly established small company, or you're a freelance contractor dealing with multiple clients - legally binding contracts are crucial to keeping your business secure.

Signing a document with pen-and-paper is no longer a time-efficient way to get the legal stuff out of the way. Online contract creation and e-signature software can effectively streamline the process; so you can spend less time dealing with the formalities and get on with the job.

In this article, we'll examine how to sign a contract online using an online signature maker. Ready? Let's jump straight in.

So, what's a contract?

First things first, what's a contract? Who might need to sign one?

A contract is a legally binding document that sets out the terms and expectations for both parties entering into a professional relationship. The contract ensures that those involve accept and uphold their part of an agreement.

Freelance professionals use contracts to make an offer to a client for their services, whether those services include freelance web design, copywriting, event planning, or something else. A contract is a way for freelancers to make sure their business is protected and secure. A contract template can help you get started if you're completely new.

Why sign a contract online?

For a written contract to be legally-binding, it must be signed by all parties involved in the agreement.

Back in the day (not that long ago), this required everyone to physically sign a document or contract. Often, this requires a lot of back-and-forth revision, which often makes signing a contract tedious and time-consuming.

In today's digital world, the internet has made our lives much easier. Involved parties no longer have to be in the same location to sign a document and use a wet signature (what is a wet signature, anyway?). Instead, contracts and other important documents can be signed digitally from a distance using specialized digital contract software.

Bonsai's all-in-one product suite for freelancers provides contract creating and eSignature capabilities. Alongside ease of use, Bonsai offers a range of customizable contract templates with built-in eSignature potential. If you opt to sign a document digitally, we've prepared a guide on how to create a digital signature in Adobe.

What is an electronic signature?

The ESIGN Act defines an e-signature as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”

Essentially, an e-signature does exactly the same job as a handwritten signature.

On a contract, an electronic signature reflects exactly what it would on a regular contract: that the person signing has understood and agreed to the terms of the contract.

If you're hearing about electronic signatures for the first time, perhaps you're wondering what is a legal signature and whether an e-signature has the same legal connotations as a traditional one. We thought you might be.

The legality of electronic signatures

When you sign documents digitally, does it have the same legal connotations as a regular pen-on-paper contract signature would?

The simple answer is that yes, signed documents that feature electronic signatures are just as legal as handwritten ones!

The United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act), passed in 2000, states that e-signatures are legally binding as long as:

  • The signatory's identity can be verified.
  • Their intent to sign the document electronically is made clear.
  • Both parties keep document records for integrity.

What is Bonsai's Contract Maker Tool?

Sure, you could go about creating contracts for every freelance project you take on from scratch. Or, to make things a lot easier on yourself, you could use Bonsai's online contract maker tool to create and sign the document online. Bonsai empowers freelancers to create professional, legally vetted contracts for a variety of operations.

One of the biggest perks of Bonsai's online contract maker is that it's super easy to use. That's not the only advantage of Bonsai though, here are some more benefits of using our contract tool:

  • All contracts are vetted by lawyers, so you can guarantee that they're legally approved.
  • It's much quicker than creating from scratch.
  • Edit the parts that are relevant to you, plus we guide you through the whole editing process.
  • You can sign online and send contracts to other parties who need to sign immediately.

How can I sign a contract online for free?

We hoped you'd ask. Bonsai offers a free trial so you can create, edit, and e-sign as many contracts as you like! Signing up for a free trial is simple, once you have an account you can begin using Bonsai's contract maker and editing tool to create professional freelance contracts.

Click to download your contract as a PDF document, or send it straight to the recipient's email address to be signed. If the contract is in Microsoft Word format, you can follow our guide on how to insert a signature in Word.

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How to Sign Contracts Online with Bonsai

Ready to get started and electronically sign your first online contract?

Hang on a minute! Before you can sign a contract, you need to have something to sign, right?

Here is a quick step by step guide explaining how to create and sign contracts online using Bonsai.

1. Create an account

First things first, you'll need to create a Bonsai account. To create an account, all you need to do is click "start free" in the top right-hand corner. Next, enter your name and your email address. That's it! On to step two.

2. Create a contract

Bonsai's contract maker tool features a range of vetted contract templates to help you get started.

The first step requires you to click "create a contract". Either select a document from a wide range of existing contract templates or create your own from scratch.  

There are some essential document features of a freelance contract temple including:

  • The named parties and relationships: Clarify who is implemented in the contract and outline the nature of the relationship.
  • Outline the project scope: What are you being asked to do? Outline the project scope using as much detail as possible. Make sure you're specific about timeframes, drafts, payments, etc, as vagueness may lead to disagreements further down the line. Include anything that was agreed upon, whether verbally or via email.
  • Requirements and Responsibilities: Clearly define the resources and info you need to get started with the project, and who's responsible for providing them.
  • Milestones: Outline key milestones, due dates, and deadlines.
  • Payment terms: Document your payment terms. Clarify how much must be paid and the payment schedule.

3. Fill in the project detail fields

Fill in all of the required fields with the project details. This will include:

  • The client's name
  • The type of project
  • Currency

Click either "standard template" or "blank contract", and select the template type. For instance, a blog post project would require a writing contract template.

4. Let Bonsai guide you through the rest

Bonsai will then provide you with an easy to follow process where you'll need to populate the contract with all the information relating to you, your project, and your agreement with the client.

First, you'll need to enter your basic information. Fill in all the required fields as they appear. At this stage, you'll need to enter information like your location, company name, and title.

Next, outline the scope of the work you'll be doing in as much detail as possible. Some contract template selections will auto-popular these fields based on your choice. However, you can easily alter the contents of the fields to describe exactly what your project requires you to do for the client. Ensure that you're as clear and detailed as possible about what you'll be doing in the contract document, to avoid any problems arising in the future.

Here you can also include a statement of work as an attached file to streamline the whole process. Simply drag and drop the in-depth statement of work document to attach it.

Once that's all done, you'll be able to add payment details, integrate invoices, and review the vetted business agreement as described in the contract. You can also make any additional edits to the template before moving onto the final steps in the process.  

5. It's time to click "sign"

This is what all your efforts boil down to. Now, let's find out how to digitally sign a PDF.

Once you've reviewed and edited your contract, you're ready to finalize it. When you're fully satisfied with your contract document, all that's left to do is click "sign contract". To sign the document online, you'll need to create your signature. Simply type in your name and Bonsai will create a legally binding e-signature with your email address printed below. It's as easy as that!

O‍nce you've signed the contract, all that's left to do is click send and wait four client to do the same. When they receive it, there'll be a section next your your signature for them to sign. To check the contract's progress, you can return to your Dashboard and track exactly whether and when it's delivered, opened, and signed. You can also click to download a PDF document copy for safe keeping.

Once the client signs, you're ready to get to work!

The best part? You can save the contract template and use it time and time again!

Benefits of signing contracts online

The combination of ease of use, customizable contract templates, and built-in electronic signature capabilities streamline the contract creation and signing process. Let's take a closer look at some of the main advantages of online contract signing.

1. It saves time...

Today, business moves fast; so should you.

Signing a regular paper-and-ink contract via the mail can take weeks. Whether you're a freelancer or a legal professional, one thing's for sure: you don't have time to wait for snail mail!

Nowadays, freelance professionals can enter into and negotiate contracts via online platforms. With digital contracts, you can create, sign, and share contracts in a matter of minutes.

2. ... And money!

Moreover, signing contracts online can save you tremendous amounts of money in the long run. You'll no longer have to cover costs associated with printing, mailing (or faxing), and filing those important contracts and documents. Instead, all of your documents are saved online (whether on your hard drive or on the cloud), so you can guarantee they're always backed up, accessible, and secure.

3. It's secure

Contracts that are stored and signed electronically offer enhanced data security. When it's no longer required to print and mail contracts there's less opportunity for them to be doctored with. With an online e-sign service, both parties can view and sign electronic documents, as well as track different versions and any changes made.

4. It allows for fewer errors

Online contracts allow for fewer errors. The sender and the recipient can simultaneously view, fill, and proofread important documents, as well as examine the terms and redline them for further review.

Moreover, tools like Bonsai offer full guidance on how to write a contract and provide customizable vetted contract templates to make creating online contracts simple.

5. Easy to use across industries and countries

One of the best things about business operations going digital is the new avenues it opens up for working across industries and countries. When you sign online, there's no need for parties to be present in the same place to sign. You can simply send the PDF document from any device with an internet connection.

There are countless tools for freelancers to facilitate long-distance professional relationships. Creating and signing online contracts with a tool like Bonsai allows freelancers to secure clients and hold them accountable, even when they're located on the other side of the world.

Get Started with Bonsai Today

If you're a freelance professional, Bonsai's contract building tool with e-sign capabilities will transform the way you do business.  Bonsai provides all the tools and capabilities you need to create and sign documents without the headache.

If you're looking for an all-in-one freelancer solution to help you manage and streamline your client relations, Bonsai's one-stop-shop freelancer product suite may be just the thing.

From creating proposals to dealing with accounting, Bonsai integrates and automates every step of your business. Let Bonsai take care of the paperwork, so you can spend more time doing what you do best - whatever that may be!

Go on, sign up for your free trial today. We know you want to.

Matthew Brown
Matt is the CEO and Co-Founder of Bonsai.

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