This year, I’ve worked with a toonnn of clients, most of them new. In January, when I started booking clients I decided there was no better time than then to start using my contract with every single client. At first it was a little weird, especially with repeat clients. I was saying, “Hi! I know we’ve worked together in the past with no problems, but my new policy is to use a contract with each client, so I would love if I could have you sign one before we kick off this project!” Every time I sent that email I was expecting a resounding “HECK NO!” back as a response; however, I never got that. Even with my younger clients, everyone was happy to sign the contract. The simple reason why: because everyone needs a contract.
It’s pretty obvious why a freelancer needs a contract, right? In case not, here’s why: clients can disappear in the middle of a project, not make a payment, and then pop back up later expecting their files to be done and you still willing to work with them. My response: “Um, really? Well, no.” From the freelancer’s perspective, a contract is the perfect place to tell the client your policy if something like that happens. For example, if you disappear for three months before making your final payment, there’s a late fee that’ll be added on to your payment. Boom, protected.
It might not be so obvious as to why a client would need a contract, too, though, but think about this: have you ever worked with a designer ( or heard of someone who did ) who never really provided anything, took your money, never delivered any files, and then disappeared? Well, to put it politely, that’s just not right. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten emails from potential clients saying that exact thing happened to them. From the client’s perspective, a contract gives you the security of knowing that you’re paying a lot of money ( cause we all know how much a good design can cost ) and you will get your design installed or files delivered and that the designer won’t disappear after you make a deposit payment.
When it comes down to what’s in a contract, it may vary from freelancer to freelancer, but regardless, both parties are generally protected, which is a big obvious duh as to why you should have a contract or request a contract as a client. So, if you’re a freelancer and you don’t have a contract protecting yourself, check out Small Business Bodyguard! I’ve not purchased it ( yet ), but I’ve seen from samples that there are tons of goodness sprinkled throughout that will help you.
And if you’re not a freelancer, but a client remember to request a contract prior to making a payment to another freelancer.