Free Freelance Writer Contract Template

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Table of contents

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

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.

Cancellation clause

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.

Kill fees

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.

Other factors

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.

Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about this template.

What is freelance writing?

Freelance writing is a career path where an independent copywriter works as a contractor for clients. Unlike employed writers, freelance writers work their own hours, develop their own contracts and work across a variety of niches.

Are there free agreement templates for writers?

Agreement templates from Bonsai are looked at by lawyers so you'll be covered. Best of all, our professional looking templates are free and easy to edit.

Research and practice by writing samples. Once you're confident with your work, you can start looking for job openings in the field. Try Bonsai to send proposals and agreements. With our software, you'll be able to edit and send these documents quickly.

Research and practice by writing samples. Once you're confident with your work, you can start looking for job openings in the field. Try Bonsai to send proposals and agreements. With our software, you'll be able to edit and send these documents quickly.

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.

Template preview

Free Freelance Writer Contract Template

Freelance Writer Contract Agreement

First Name
Last Name
Acme LLC.
First Name
Last Name
Corporation Corp.

This Contract is between Client (the "Client") and Acme LLC, (the "Writer").

The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Writer to do the following: The Writer will write a series of blog posts for the Client's company website.

1.2 Schedule. The Writer will begin work on June 19, 2023 and will continue until the work is completed. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Writer at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 6, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Writer a rate of  [ENTER AMOUNT] (USD) per hour. Of this, the Client will pay the Writer [ENTER AMOUNT] (USD) before work begins.

1.4 Expenses. The Client will reimburse the Writer's expenses. Expenses do not need to be pre-approved by the Client.

1.5 Invoices. The Writer will invoice the Client at the end of the project. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within 15 days of receiving the invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of 1.5% per month on the outstanding amount.

1.6 Support. The Writer will not provide support for any deliverable once the Client accepts it, unless otherwise agreed in writing.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Writer is creating “work product” for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as drafts, notes, materials, mockups, hardware, designs, inventions, patents, code, and anything else that the Writer works on—that is, conceives, creates, designs, develops, invents, works on, or reduces to practice—as part of this project, whether before the date of this Contract or after. The Writer hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Writer is giving the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Writer's Use Of Work Product. Once the Writer gives the work product to the Client, the Writer does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Writer here. The Client gives permission to use the work product as part of portfolios and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the work and not for any other purpose. The Client does not give permission to sell or otherwise use the work product to make money or for any other commercial use. The Client is not allowed to take back this license, even after the Contract ends.

2.3 Writer's Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Writer's help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Writer agrees to help with that. For example, the Writer may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Writer, the Writer agrees that the Client can act on the Writer's behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Writer after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Writer hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Writer's agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Writer and on the Writer's behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Writer's IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Writer might use intellectual property that the Writer owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as “work product.” This is called “background IP.” Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, and web application tools. The Writer is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Writer is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client’s products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 11.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Writer cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Writer's Right To Use Client IP. The Writer may need to use the Client’s intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Writer to build a website, the Writer may have to use the Client’s logo. The Client agrees to let the Writer use the Client’s intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Writer's job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Writer any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.


The Writer won’t work for a competitor of the Client until this Contract ends. To avoid confusion, a competitor is any third party that develops, manufactures, promotes, sells, licenses, distributes, or provides products or services that are substantially similar to the Client’s products or services. A competitor is also a third party that plans to do any of those things. The one exception to this restriction is if the Writer asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Writer uses employees or subcontractors, the Writer must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.


Until this Contract ends, the Writer won’t: (a) encourage Client employees or service providers to stop working for the Client; (b) encourage Client customers or clients to stop doing business with the Client; or (c) hire anyone who worked for the Client over the 12-month period before the Contract ended. The one exception is if the Writer puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Writer may hire that candidate. The Writer promises that it won’t do anything in this paragraph on behalf of itself or a third party.


5.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

5.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

5.3 Writer Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Writer promises that it owns the work product, that the Writer is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Writer uses employees or subcontractors, the Writer also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Writer giving the Writer any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Writer's background IP and work product.

5.4 Writer Will Comply With Laws. The Writer promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations.

5.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Writer promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Writer has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Writer has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

5.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Writer if the Writer has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

5.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Writer with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.


This Contract is ongoing until the work is completed. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed. The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 11.4. The Writer must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Writer for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Writer for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don’t end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Competitive Engagements); 4 (Non-Solicitation); 5 (Representations); 8 (Confidential Information); 9 (Limitation of Liability); 10 (Indemnity); and 11 (General).


The Client is hiring the Writer as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

  • The Writer will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.
  • The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Writer is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.
  • The Client will not provide the Writer with any training.
  • The Client and the Writer do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.
  • The Writer cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.
  • The Writer is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).
  • The Writer is responsible for its own taxes.
  • The Client will not withhold social security and Medicare taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Writer or any of the Writer's employees or subcontractors.


8.1 Overview. This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Writer must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

8.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Writer may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Writer promises to treat this information as if it is the Writer's own confidential information. The Writer may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Writer use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Writer cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Writer written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Writer may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Writer must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Writer promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Writer written permission first. The Writer must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Writer's responsibilities only stop if the Writer can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Writer came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Writer came across it, but not because of anything the Writer did or didn’t do; (iii) the Writer already knew the information when the Writer came across it and the Writer didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Writer with the information without requiring that the Writer keep it a secret; or (v) the Writer created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

8.3 Third-Party Confidential Information. It’s possible the Client and the Writer each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Writer each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Writer is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.


Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


10.1 Overview. This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Writer or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Writer did, then the Writer may promise to come to the Client’s defense or to reimburse the Client for any losses.

10.2 Client Indemnity. In this Contract, the Writer agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Writer has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Writer of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Writer of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Writer Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Writer (and its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


11.1 Assignment. This Contract applies only to the Client and the Writer. The Writer cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client’s written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Writer's permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

11.2 Arbitration. As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

11.3 Modification; Waiver. To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Writer must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

11.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party’s address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

11.5 Severability. This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that’s the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

11.6 Signatures. The Client and the Writer must sign this document using Bonsai’s e-signing system. These electronic signatures count as originals for all purposes.

11.7 Governing Law. The laws of the state of California govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Writer under this Contract, without regard to conflict of law principles of that state.

11.8 Entire Contract. This Contract represents the parties’ final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


First Name
Last Name
Acme LLC.
First Name
Last Name
Corporation Corp.