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The 5 Reasons Every Freelancer Needs A Good Contract

The 5 Reasons Every Freelancer Needs A Good Contract

If you are an established freelancer, you have most likely experienced things that have taught you the importance of using contracts with clients, if you are a new freelancer who has taken the time to do your research you have read about the importance of using a contract as a freelancer. As a freelancer, I have seen first hand how having a great contract can help to maintain great client relationships and to avoid misunderstandings of any kind. A great (not complicated) contract helps to hold you and your clients to your words, encouraging an open and honest relationship.

The fear of complicating things or having to spend money on a lawyer to create a great and clear contract often discourages new and sometimes established freelancers from making a contractual agreement a priority. The reality is that having a simple agreement is better than nothing at all. There are some awesome free and premium templates available online that can be edited to fit your personal needs in minutes.

Most of us go into freelancing because we want to enjoy the flexibility of working from anywhere we want. We are drawn in by the fantasy of a calmer working atmosphere, it is, therefore, our duty to ensure that we keep our work life as stress-free as we possibly can. Having a contract goes a long way to creating and to maintaining that environment.

Crafting a simple and yet effective contract is not hard to do as long as you understand what matters most to you as a Freelancer and what you expect from not only yourself but your clients. Below is a list of 5 Freelance Contract must-haves to simplify your life as a Freelancer.

The Obvious

What is the project?

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Clear communication with your client to understand what they need and how they expect you to deliver it is important. I love to ask questions in the early stages that will allow me to have a clear understanding of the scope of the work.

Be as clear as possible with the What of the project. Have a clear understanding of what you are expected to deliver and allowing the client time to go over the contract will also ensure that they have a clear understanding of how you interpreted their need and vision.

*Be diligent in understanding your client. Is your client going to follow your workflow from beginning to end, or are they going to hand it over and wait for you to reach out after the completion of the work? Understanding your client will allow you to be more effective in building a long lasting relationship with the client, but more importantly, it will allow you to get the job done in a way that will please them.

Deadlines

The last thing that you want to happen is for your client to suddenly decide to change your deadline. If you are like me, you may map out your process or create a workflow that will help you to work effectively (A great idea for those who juggle multiple clients, or manage teams)

A client suddenly deciding to change the date can completely unhinge your process. Including all agreed deadlines in the contract will help you to deal with unnecessary stress. A great tip from Vinay Jay is to assign deadlines to each phase if your project is broken up into phases.

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Simply working on a whim can complicate things unnecessarily for you and your client.

Financial

Do not forget to mention how much you will be paid for your work!

It happens.

Clarify the terms of payments, whether you are being paid hourly, bi-weekly, or a lump sum for a specific task. Do you have a specific day in mind that you should be paid?

Write it down, be as clear as possible about fees, etc.

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Timing of Payments

*Is payment due After the work has been delivered?

Is payment due the same day that the invoice is delivered?

What are your late fees, do you have late fees?

Do you expect to be paid in advance, if so, how much, and when?*

All these are some of the things that you should consider the moment that you begin speaking to your client. Clarify and write it down once you have both agreed to something that works.

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Clarity and Simplicity

If the goal is to create a long-term relationship with your clients, then I find that being as clear as possible in the beginning helps to set a solid foundation for a great and long lasting relationship. That clarity is expressed through a simple contract.

Complicated is not always the best way to go, especially when you are trying to create a contract.

Being clear and simple will result in less questions and will allow both parties to have an understanding of what they are signing up for.

Featured photo credit: Olu Eletu via unsplash.com

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Nancy Laws

Freelance Writer and Virtual Assistant

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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