There are now over 57 million Americans working in the freelance economy. Additionally, freelancers offering skilled services earn an average rate of $28 per hour, which means they earn more than 70 percent of US workers in the overall economy.
While freelancing gives you the opportunity to earn more money, work from home, and set your own schedule, it also comes with certain difficulties.
One of the toughest parts of working as a freelancer is setting up freelance contracts. If you don’t set your contracts up correctly, you put yourself at risk of not being paid on time, or worse, not being paid at all.
So, how do you make sure you set up your freelance contracts correctly so there aren’t any loopholes?
Check out this guide to learn how it’s done.
What is a Freelance Contract?
First things first, what exactly is a freelance contract?
A freelance contract is a legal agreement between two or more parties. If necessary, this contract can be used as proof to defend yourself in the event of a dispute.
The main purpose of a freelance contract is to have an organized document that details the scope of your work, including what you’ll be doing, when you’ll be doing it, and for how much money. If a client tries to ask for something outside of the scope of your work, you can refer them to your freelance contract
Do You Need Freelance Contracts?
But, are freelance contracts really necessary? Can’t you just handle your work agreements via email?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes! An email is a contract. If you use email to discuss projects, rates, and deadlines, then a separate written document isn’t really necessary.
Therefore, if a client tries to ask for something outside of the scope of your work, all you need to do is refer them to the email thread to prove what you’ve already agreed upon. If you work with international clients, setting up your contracts this way can be very helpful.
However, if you work with local clients, you may want to consider a written freelance contract. This way, you can make it clear to your clients that once you finish your work, they will need to pay you or you’ll take them to court.
Even if you do work with international clients, you may find it easier to create a contract so you don’t have to dig through threads of emails to find what you initially agreed upon. If you have a lot of different clients, freelance contracts can help you keep everything organized and in one place.
What to Include in a Freelance Contract
So, what goes into a freelance contract? Here’s everything that you need to put in yours:
1. Basic Information
Your contract should include the full names of all parties involved, contact information (ie, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers), and dates. Make sure both you and the other party date the contract when you sign it.
2. The Scope of the Project
The contract should also outline the services you’ll be performing for your client. Make sure you’re as clear and detailed as possible. For example, if you’re a freelance writer completing a blog post for a client, you’ll want to detail:
- The length of the article
- Whether or not you’ll include images or infographics
- The type of article you’ll be writing
Also, make sure how many free revisions you’ll offer as well as how much you’ll charge for extra revisions.
3. Payment Information
Your freelance contract should also detail your payment terms, methods, and deadlines.
Make sure that it’s clear to your client whether you’ll be charging an hourly rate or a flate fee. Typically clients prefer to pay a flat fee so they know exactly how much to budget.
You also need to figure out how you expect to get paid, whether it’s via cash, Paypal, check, or bank transfer.
In terms of the deadline, most freelancers ask for a portion of the payment upfront (usually 25 to 50 percent) and the rest for when the project is complete.
4. Deadlines and Cancellations
Your contract should also clearly state when you’ll have the project finished by. If you offer revisions, you should also state how long the turnaround will be for these.
If a client decides to cancel the project, make sure the contract clearly states how much time they have to do so before they’re expected to pay.
5. Copyright and Ownership
It’s also very important that you discuss copyright and ownership in your freelance contract. If you offer creative services (ie, writing, web design, etc), then this section is particularly important.
Since the client is paying for your work, in most cases, they’re going to ask for full rights to it once it’s complete. However, many clients are open to crediting freelancers for their work, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
For example, if you work as a freelance writer and you complete a series of blog posts for a client, then once your writing is finished, the client can post the blogs wherever they wish and edit them as they see fit. However, your client may be open to allowing you to use your name on a byline for blog posts and other articles.
Freelance Contracts: Are You Ready to Create Your Contract?
Now that you’ve read this guide on freelance contracts, it’s time to get to work on creating your own. As we mentioned earlier, a freelance contract can make it easier for you to stay organized, communicate with your clients, and avoid legal disputes, so make sure to take your time when putting together your contract.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more freelancing tips and tricks.