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freelance contracts

Freelance work agreements.

My work agreements for clients have evolved over the past few years. As we move closer to my 7-year-freelance-aversery (6-years full-time) I have a few posts planned focused on the business side of one’s writing business. One thing that has stayed the same in my contracts is that I always include one round of revisions with all drafts. Let’s take a look at how my proposals have evolved over the past few years:

2009-2010: I would quickly quote jobs based on per-word rates, often relying on a $0.10/word rate as a benchmark. I neglected to change the rate based on the complexity of the work, if the client needed me to interview sources, and if they needed me to post the content on their behalf. My proposals consisted of a one-page document outlining the length and rate, with payment due net 15 after the project was complete. I usually delivered drafts within 1-2 weeks.

2011-2012: I started inquiring more about the individual’s writing needs and customizing rates unique to each project. I found flat rates just didn’t work as everyone’s content needs (volume, frequency, specialization, administration) are not created equal. My proposals became three pages long: One outlining the project scope and delivery, another with terms regarding intellectual property, indemnity, etc., and a third page outlining what makes me different from other writers. I kept net 15 and changed my delivery dates to 2-3 weeks.

2012-2013: With more and more content marketing factors affecting my time, I itemized tasks not included in my project fee so that clients would understand what they’re missing out on. (This prompts many to ask about “upgrading.”) My proposals became four pages long – with the addition of an ‘Additional Options’ page when relevant. I stopped accepting payment at the end of projects and only started projects once payment was received in full. (For long-time, ongoing clients I continued to invoice monthly with net 15.) I worked 2-3 weeks out.

2014-2015: Fairly similar. In late 2015 I started working 3-4 weeks out on projects due to volume.

2016: Similar once again – I’m mainly working at a steady 3-4 weeks out on most one-time projects, with rush fees available as I can fit in. Rush fees range from $95-$595 depending on the size of the project and how busy I am.

3 Freelance Contract Terms I’ve Added:

  1. Infringements. When I acquired media liability insurance one of the factors affecting premium rates is whether or not you have this phrase in your contract: “To the best of TLG’s knowledge, the content created for client does not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others. ” So I added it and have been using it ever since!
  2. Work to commence only after payment and signed contract received, whichever is later. Generally if there’s an issue with starting a project it’s because the client signed the contract but hasn’t mailed their project payment yet. I quoted a small project for a returning client nearly six months ago and she was ready to move forward, said she mailed a check. I let her know I didn’t receive it. She’s even checked in with me twice since then, always says a check is on the way – but nothing received. I’m under no obligation to do the work since my terms require both a payment and a signed contract. In a similar vein – for the first time ever I experienced a client send their payment…but drag their feet for nearly a month before sending a signed contract. This was a peculiar situation to be in!
  3. Waiver. I saw this term in another freelancer’s contract and decided to add it to mine: “Failure of either party to enforce provisions within this agreement shall not be deemed a waiver or limitation of that party’s right to enforce compliance with all provisions held within.” I am pretty flexible in general. For example, I provided a reduced rate for one client because they signed a 1-year agreement, but they faced a hardship about 6 months into the agreement. I enjoyed working with them so much I let the contract break with no penalty. By doing that it could mean that other terms in the agreement could be equally invalidated, so having this waiver helps preserve the intent.

What have you added to your freelance contracts?