This writer is not an attorney and this is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your legal and contract needs.
Freelance writing comes with a number of benefits, the most notable being the freedom to work when, where, and how you desire. But, as with any other career path, there is a major drawback to consider. You are on your own. You have to draft up proposals, make important work decisions, and even negotiate rates by yourself.
Because of this, chances are that you may have come across a client who did not pay you what you deserve, or even terminated the project right when you had invested a substantial amount of time into it. The client may have even refused to pay because the work you provided is not necessarily what they wanted.
The good news is that you don’t have to keep going through these frustrations.
The solution? A freelance contract!
Working without a contract is always a gamble. Even as a freelancer, it should not be an exception. To ensure that you are fully protected, always include these 4 things in every freelance contract:
While compensation is an obvious part of the bargain, including a retainer, kill fees, and late fees are three things that will ensure you go home with money in your pocket, no matter how the project turns out.
a) Never begin working without a retainer
A retainer will ensure cash flow right from the beginning of a project. For instance, if you are working on an hourly project, you can ask your client for a retainer of $500 at the beginning phase. As you work, you will bill your hourly rate against this retainer. Only begin work after the client pays your respective retainer amount as it will keep you protected in case the project comes to a sudden end.
b) Flat rate project fees
If you agree on a weekly or monthly rate with your client, they should provide the payments on time for you to continue working for them. Never continue work for a client who is late on a payment.
c) Late fees and kill fees
The compensation provision in your freelance contract should always include late fees for clients who do not pay on time, and kill fees in case the client cancels the project after you begin working. This fee will cover the total amount of time that you spend on a project before the client “kills” it.
SCOPE OF WORK
Be specific about the work you will do. For instance, mention that you are writing a 500-word press release, or a long-form article. As such, anything outside of the scope of this work will be negotiated at a different rate, and included in a new freelance contract.
This clause states that the agreement between the parties, that are related to the project, has been merged into a written contract. As such, neither party can later claim that their needs were not addressed. In other words, if it is not stated in the contract, it is not part of the agreement.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONTRACT
Any changes or amendments to the contract must be done in writing. Just like the merger clause, this provision will ensure that there are no misunderstandings between the parties. If it is not in writing, then there is no amendment. Therefore, all parties will be bound by the original contract.
DO NOT GET BURNED
There is one golden rule to freelancing – getting in writing. There are no two ways about it. With a contract in place, you will always remain protected regardless of how the project turns out. Most importantly, ensure that you take time to go through the contract provisions with your client so that you will both agree on the terms and conditions. No matter the type of project, these 4 provisions are a must-have in your freelance contract.
- How to Use Writer Retainer Agreements to Keep Your Business in the Black by Jennifer Brown Banks
- No More Cruddy Contracts: Six Rules for More Agreeable Agreements By Kelly James-Enger
- Can You REALLY Trust Your Secretary, Webmaster, or Publishing Consultant to “Sign” Your Publishing Agreement?
- P.O.D. SECRETS REVEALED: Ridiculous Contract Clauses!
- Even Friends Need a Contract!
Louisa Eunice is a freelance writer who has experience writing B2B and B2C content for a variety of audiences and publications. She also writes short-form marketing content for an array of unique brands. Some past organizations Louisa has worked with include TapDesk, Captive Network, and many more.
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