A contract is a legally binding agreement between you and your client. It’s as simple as that.
A contract template is basically the draft version of the contract, with all your needs and requirements preloaded onto it (which you’ll be easily able to edit later on).
With sections stating your job description, the intended work you’ll do, your payment details, and any other descriptives or legal requirements needed, a contract template is a must-have for freelancers and their clients to stay protected.
Sounds easy, right? It doesn’t take a law firm to create a simple contract template.
The real value here is that a contract template will save you a lot of time and effort when you’re negotiating with a new client. This means you can spend more time doing what actually makes you passionate, instead of the negotiations and the paperwork.
Before you begin writing your own contract, you should always seek legal advice to make sure what you're making is actually a legally binding document.
That being said, every basic and formal contract should include these essential elements:
For the work and payment details section, you’ll want to include details on:
This will include an outline of your full services for the client.
You should detail your start and end date, as well as any service times. For example, a wedding photographer will want to state when they’ll arrive and when their breaks are throughout the day.
Here you’ll state what the client is paying you (whether that’s a flat fee, per hour, or something else), your payment schedule, as well as any deposits before the work starts. It’s common for a wedding photography contract to include any cancellation fees or non-refundable deposits.
You may need to travel, rent a hotel, or even purchase new clothes so you abide by a dress code for the job. Outline if the client is required to reimburse you for any expenses.
Include how and when you’ll invoice the client. Outline when the due date is and any incurring late fees should they miss it.
You’ll want to agree on how much (if at all) support is provided to the client once the job is done. This can include editing or touching up photos if you’re a wedding photographer.
This section should include details on:
The client’s ownership of the work product
This will be a detailed section stating that the client owns the final work product. You’ll want to agree on what that includes and when the client obtains ownership.
Your usage of the work product
As freelancers, you can state any permissions the client gives you for using the final product. As a wedding photographer, you’ll want to have permission to showcase photos in your portfolio.
Help you provide secure ownership
This section is for when the client needs your help to prove the product is theirs. You should agree that you’ll help the client secure ownership and if you aren’t available to help, the client can speak on your behalf.
Your intellectual property and usage
Include details on intellectual property (IP) usage permissions and ownership.
The client’s intellectual property and usage
Similar to the section above, the client also has IP that you may use as long as they give permission. This could include using their logo on your portfolio.
Include a statement about any restrictions working with close competitors for the duration of the contract. Outline any partnership agreements you may have.
You’ll want to outline any non-solicitation clauses here for you and the client.
For a legally binding document, you should include a representations section which will cover:
Who has the authority to sign
Basically, a statement that promises both parties to have the authority to sign.
The right to use the intellectual property involved with the final product
Explain that the parties involved (including any independent contractors or subcontractors) have the right to use the IP involved with creating the final product.
You comply with law
State that you promise to comply with the laws of the country that you are in.
The final product doesn’t infringe
A promise that the final product doesn’t infringe on another party's IP.
The client promises to provide feedback
Make a state about the client promising to give you feedback on the final product in a timely manner.
This section will detail the terms and conditions around the termination of the contract. This could be on a particular date or after the completion of a specific project.
Add in the details about the working relationship between you, as a freelancer or independent contractor, and the client. This can include things like whether or not you use your own equipment, if you’re provided training, or any tax responsibilities.
Here you’ll explain the access and handling of confidential information between the two (or more) parties.
Remember to add what kind of permission you and your client give and do not give each other.
We recommend seeking legal advice for this section of the contract, as it can be very detailed and need specialist input.
The client’s confidential information
Here you should determine what happens when you or the client come across each other’s confidential information. You'll also want to add any non-disclosure agreements here too, which would be helpful for protecting a company's trade secrets.
Third-party confidential information
This is similar to the above clause, where you’ll mention the same or similar agreements should you come across the confidential information of a third party.
Here is a short statement basically explaining that neither party is liable if the other breaches the contract unknowingly.
This section involves legal protections and other formalities. You’ll want to state that if one party is fined or sued then there is no liability, damages, or expenses pushed onto the other party (you or the client).
Remember to have two sections, one for each party involved.
This is a general overview of the contract agreement itself, which should include:
This statement is around the obligations of giving the contract over to another party should it need to happen.
If a dispute between the parties involved can be resolved through arbitration.
Modifications or waivers
If anything has to change in this legal document, both parties must agree to it in writing.
State all the terms and conditions around giving notice.
This explains what happens should there be any unenforceable parts of the contract .
How both parties will be agreeing to sign the contract and what counts as an original copy.
A quick statement explaining that the contract is under the law of the governing body involved.
A short sentence underlining the validity of the contract.
In this section, both parties will add their signatures agreeing to the terms of the contract.
You and your client should both have at least one copy of the originally signed contract and any formal documentation when required. Whether it’s an independent contractor agreement, partnership agreement, simple lease agreement, cleaning services agreement or rental agreement, any legally binding contract should be held by both parties in its original form. Photocopies are also a good idea – you never know when your original copy may be lost.
Remember that for any major services or deals you should always include a lawyer or a notary. However, depending on the type of work you do, legal counsel isn’t always necessary when it comes to independent contractor contracts.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to create your contract.