Learn more about using contracts and agreements in the FREE Six Figure Freelancer audio course, where Caitlin Pearce, Executive Director of Freelancer’s Union, covers all of this and more.
Hands up if you’ve ever experienced this:
You were hired to create web copy [or insert relevant project here] for a client. The promising payout fueled your late night creativity and you missed outings with your friends. You double fact-checked your references and uploaded the file with relaxed confidence. You really outdid yourself on this one.
A couple of weeks pass without any response, and it starts to become painfully obvious that the promising payout will be delayed, if you’re going to receive it at all. And if that news wasn’t deflating enough, you then realized you neglected to execute a freelance contract. Oh dear! What’s a freelancer to do?
While this is a frustrating scenario, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one who has been in this position—in fact, a huge 71% of freelancers have experienced non-payment challenges.
The best thing you can do is learn from this experience, and put in place practices to help you avoid non-payment from your clients in future. First and foremost, you’ll want to get comfortable using freelance contracts in all of your transactions, which includes the clients you already know well.
6 reasons you should use contracts and agreements as a freelancer
If you’re on the fence about whether it’s really necessary for you to use contracts, here are six compelling reasons to get yourself well away from that fence.
1. Increase your professional image
When you use freelance contracts, you convey to others that your creative work is not a hobby. It’s a business and your clients should value your craft and your time as much as you do.
“Make sure that you’re taking yourself seriously as a professional… It really protects both parties to have a contract. It clarifies your expectations and the client’s.”– Caitlin Pearce, Six Figure Freelancer Audio Course
2. Demonstrate your integrity
With a contract, you communicate your commitment to delivering on your promises. Just as you’re protecting your interest by using a freelance contract, you’re also being held accountable to completing the work as ordered by your client.
3. Make the terms clear from the outset
The terms of freelance work are as diverse as the freelancers who set them. Using freelance contracts in your business allows you to clearly state your terms. Such as, how many revisions do you offer? Do you require a down payment? How will the work be delivered? What happens if the customer isn’t satisfied with the finished work?
You can spell out your terms in the contract to be sure you’ve left no important stone unturned. Your repeat customers will expect consistency in your terms and in your work. That’s a good thing!
4. Eliminate misunderstandings
As a freelancer, a conversation about your services could start in a chat and end with a telephone call or email. For this reason, you’ll want to use a freelance contract to finalize any communications that may have occurred outside of the contract to avoid misunderstandings.
It’s good practice to include verbiage in your contract that states something along the lines of: “Only the written contract represents the agreement between you and your client.” A clause to this effect is included in the free freelance contract template created by The Freelancer’s Union and AND CO.
5. Use it as a branding opportunity
How you present your business to the public impacts the quality and quantity of the work you attract. Your freelance contract, invoices, and proposals are more than sheets of paper. They are a part of your branding strategy, making you not only look professional but also making your name and logo more recognizable.
Invest in your brand by creating invoices, proposals, and freelance contracts that work to your marketing advantage. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank to make a great impression with your business forms.
AND CO from Fiverr offers attractive proposals, contracts and invoices for freelancers who want to streamline their billing and invoicing while creating their unique brand message. With these beautiful forms, you can share your brand at every phase of the business transaction.
6. Avoid costly omissions
If you rely on your client’s contract, you risk having some of your important terms omitted. For example, you may have a particular term that states how revisions are handled. Using your own freelance contracts protects your interest and your valuable time.
Getting started with freelance contracts
Consider viewing a freelance contract as a way to clarify your conversation—to make sure all parties understand and agree to the terms of the work to be performed and how it will be delivered. With your payment much more secure, you can focus less on chasing up invoices and more on the things you love to do—like creating.
A simple template to use
Unlike many boilerplate contract templates that you’d find on the Internet, contracts for freelancers have a unique language. The Freelancer’s Union and AND CO put together a template contract to help you get started. As you further define your unique offerings and terms, you can use this template as a guide to creating your own personalized freelance contract.
In the end, it’s not what was said over the telephone, it’s what’s in writing that will hold up in court. Let’s keep you out of the courtroom and at your virtual desk, creating incredible work for your clients.
To learn more about freelance contracts and clauses, check out this episode of the Six Figure Freelancer audio course, where Caitlin Pearce, Executive Director at Freelancers Union, deep dives into everything contract related. You’ll gain valuable insight to protect yourself and your income, and learn how you can avoid non-payment from your clients.