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.
What is the project?
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.
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.
Simply working on a whim can complicate things unnecessarily for you and your client.
Do not forget to mention how much you will be paid for your work!
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.
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.
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