Why Every Freelancer Needs a Contract

Freelancing. While we love it, it definitely comes with its fair share of headaches. The number one complaint we hear involves not getting paid by clients. But there is something you can do to protect yourself – and the integrity of your work – before entering into a working relationship.

While probably 95% of the time you’ll never have an issue getting paid, there’s always that one client who will try to hang you out to dry. “Oh, we didn’t like the work and didn’t end up using it,” they say. “We won’t pay you ‘til we get paid by our client,” you hear. Or, maybe you hear something along the lines of, “The check is in the mail” … if you hear anything at all. What if they closed up shop?

Gone are the days when you could conduct business on purely a handshake. Today, you must – and we cannot stress that enough – have a formal document in place. This contract or agreement should specify the work you’ll be doing, for whom, and what your payment terms are, i.e., 30 days, at the very least. You may want to also include deadlines, expectations, and other essential ingredients that could affect your relationship, such as usage rights, late fees, and who pays for what should collections or legal proceedings become necessary.

If you have a signed contract in hand and your client somehow finds it convenient not to pay you – or within the terms agreed upon, you definitely have some legal recourse. If you don’t, it’s going to be really hard to get the money you are owed based upon a he-said, she-said arrangement.

Depending upon the amount of money owed, some freelancers may decide not to pursue proper payment and just write it off on their taxes. However, we strongly advise not doing this, as it devalues the profession — and it makes it more difficult for those who do follow industry protocol if you’re training them to get away with murder.

Besides, it’s not about the amount of money owed. It’s about the principle … of clients acting professionally, treating their vendors with respect and following through on an agreement they made.

Luckily for you, Freelancers U is bringing in attorney Duncan McQueen to hash out exactly what needs to go into a contract to ensure you are protected. Join us for Get It In Writing:  Contract Essentials on February 15th. Enroll today. And get schooled.

Disclaimer:  Be sure to seek professional legal advice and thoroughly read terms and conditions. This post is intended as a guide only.

2 Responses to “Why Every Freelancer Needs a Contract”

  1. here
    May 27, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    This website has got a lot of really helpful information on it! Thank you for informing me!


  1. Resource Wednesday #2: Freelancing Pt. 2 – kennymiracle.com - May 30, 2012

    [...] you get the gig, it’s good to know “Why Every Freelancer Needs a Contract”. You’ll find out the reason as soon as a client decides she wants to change your rate or not [...]

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