Creating a freelance contract template is a helpful business tool to improve your efficiency. As a freelancer, time is money! If you spend hours creating contracts from scratch every quarter, you are losing potential billable hours. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this problem. Create a contract template and spend just a few minutes customizing it to fit your client’s needs.
What does a freelance contract look like?
A freelance contract is a business agreement between yourself and your client. For the client, the contract describes what they can expect to receive, when, and how much they will pay. For the freelancer, a contract is a helpful tool to clarify your business expectations (e.g., how quickly you will be paid and what services you will provide).
A freelance contract is also a tool to mitigate risk. In the unlikely event you end up in court, having a written agreement with your client will make it easier to resolve the dispute. Highly sophisticated consultants tend to have more complex contracts. A simple freelance contract template is likely all you need if you are running a smaller freelance business generating $100,000 or less per year in revenue.
What should a freelance contract include?
There is no simple answer to this question. Instead, the answer depends on a combination of factors including your industry, the types of clients you serve, the services you offer, and the risks involved in your business. That said, there are some minimum requirements that almost all freelance contracts require.
The contract must be crystal clear on the pricing of your services. If you charge an hourly rate, state the rate clearly (e.g., $200 per hour). If your pricing structure is more complex (e.g., it might include performance bonuses), describe these arrangements in detail. Your client should be able to quickly validate an invoice by comparing it to the contract.
Some large companies like to wait 30 or 60 days before paying invoices. For freelancers, waiting several months to get paid can be very stressful. Therefore, you may want to include a clause stating that your invoices will be paid within two weeks of being received. Not all clients will agree to this provision, but you wouldn’t know for sure until you propose this requirement.
In addition, your contract may also specify the platform you will use for payments and invoices like CheckYa.
- Services provided
- Intellectual property
Most freelance service providers create or interact with intellectual property. For example, you might create software for your client or marketing materials that bring in new clients. Your contract must cover intellectual property. Many clients want freelancers to work on a “work for hire” basis (i.e., the clients own all of the intellectual property). In other cases, writers and authors take a different approach to intellectual property. For example, some copywriters charge upfront fees and ongoing royalties to clients for the sales pages, emails, and other materials they create for clients.
- Termination clause
All good things come to an end, and business is no different. The contract should give the freelancer and the contract a simple way to end the contract. Typically, there is a requirement to provide written notice of termination. This might involve providing 2-4 weeks of termination notice.
- Options to expand the scope of the contract.
The freelance sales process can take a long time, especially with larger companies. If you have spent weeks or months securing a new client, adding some flexibility to the contract may be wise. In that case, consider reworking your contract to allow for new statements of work (SOWs) or scopes of work. In this way, you can still manage each project but avoid the hassle of creating a brand new contract.
How long should a freelancer contract be?
There are two answers to this question: length of the contract document and duration of the contract.
The page count of your freelance contract will probably be less than five pages. Many freelancers use a 2-3 page contract where they customize a few elements for each client. Sending a very long contract document to a client can hurt your sales. Why? Put yourself in the client’s shoes for a moment. If you received a three-page contract, you would probably read through it yourself and sign off if it looked reasonable. On the other hand, a 10-page contract might feel much more overwhelming and you might feel a need to get a legal review.
There are two popular ways to approach the duration of a freelance contract: ongoing services and projects. Some freelancers, like coders and marketers, essentially function as outsourced employees. In that situation, an ongoing services contract with a six to twelve-month duration makes sense. It often takes to create results so the length of your contract needs to be reasonable.
Some freelance business owners prefer to work with clients on a project basis. For instance, a publicity consultant might work with a client for six months to launch a new product, book, or movie. In these cases, customize the duration of the contract to fit the nature of the project.
5 Downloadable Freelance Contract Templates In Google doc
The following freelance contract template documents cover several types of popular services. You will notice that most of the contract templates are similar. That similarity is intentional. Most freelance business owners do not need highly complex contracts. Simple contracts are more than enough for most situations
Please note that the parts of the template highlighted in yellow need to be customized to feet the needs of your specific business.
1 Web developer contract template (fixed monthly fee)
2 Business coach contract template (fixed monthly fee)
3 Social media consultant contract template (hourly rate)
4 Environmental consultant contract template (project fee)
5 Search engine optimization contract template (fixed monthly fee)
Frequently Asked Questions About Freelance Contracts (FAQs)
Creating effective freelance contracts for your business takes time and practice. Even more important, your clients also have to agree with using your contract! Use the following tips to navigate common questions and concerns that come up with contracts.
1. When should I send my contract to the client to sign?
It depends on your sales process and confidence. If you have not had the opportunity to discuss the client’s goals, do not send a contract to them. Likewise, if you have not discussed your fees and deadlines, do not send a contract yet.
You should only prepare and send a contract to your client after you have discussed all of the key points of a business relationship. That includes discussing the scope of the work, the deadlines, the fees, and the business goals you are working toward.
When you are confident that you and your client are fully aligned on the project, prepare a contract and send it to the client.
2. What questions should I ask potential clients before sending a contract to them?
Spending time upfront understanding the client’s situation is vitally important. The specific questions you ask will depend on the nature of your business. Use the following questions as a starting point – pick and choose the questions most relevant to your situation.
- What business problem are you aiming to solve?
- What have you done previously to solve this problem?
- Who is responsible for solving this problem in the company?
- Who is typically involved in approving new freelancers at the company?
- Are there significant deadlines relevant to this project?
- I would like to request the following data (e.g. website analytics) to better analyze your situation. How do I get this information?
- Would you like me to prepare a contract and send it to you for approval?
3. The client doesn’t like one of the clauses in the contract. What should I do?
Start by realizing that it is perfectly natural to negotiate a contract with clients. The answer to this question depends on the specific situation. There are a few common areas where clients ask for changes like pricing, intellectual property, scope, and deadlines. If you see long-term value in working with the client, it is usually wise to be flexible with the client about changes.
4. I want to renegotiate the contract with my client. How do I do this?
It depends on why you want to change your contract. Let’s assume that you have an ongoing services style contract with a client. If you have been working with the same client for a year or more, it is reasonable to review the contract and see if it still makes sense.
The most common change freelancers want in their contracts is to raise their prices. Raising your prices annually is a common practice, so many clients will expect it. However, there is a chance that you might lose a client if you demand an increase in your prices. Therefore, it is best to regularly spend time on generating new sales opportunities so that you can easily move on to a new opportunity.
5. The contract is signed, and the client started asking for services that go beyond the scope of the contract. How should I handle this situation?
Scope creep is a common problem in the business world. The first step to solving this problem is to understand why it happened in the first place. There are a few common causes to scope creep:
You and the client might have rushed through the sales process. As a result, there is some confusion or vagueness in the contract.
The client or the freelancer comes up with new ideas or methods that go beyond the scope of the contract. For example, the client might ask a copywriter to write 10 Facebook Ads and later ask the freelancer to write their Google Ads as well.
Solving this problem is simple. Take a few minutes to evaluate the client’s request and compare it against the contract. If the client’s request is relatively simple and takes less than 5 minutes, it is best to simply fulfill the request. A freelancer who constantly pushes back on every request is likely to irritate the client.
However, if the client is asking for a substantial amount of additional work, then that request has to be discussed in more detail. Start by asking the client a simple question like this: “I reviewed the request you sent yesterday. It looks like an interesting idea! This idea isn’t covered by the contract, however. Would you like to discuss pricing to add this service?”
6. Should I get a lawyer to review my freelance contract before using it?
A freelance contract is a legal document so there is value in reviewing the contract with a lawyer. That said, there are practical issues to keep in mind here as well. A lawyer might charge hundreds or thousands of dollars to review your contract. If your business is brand new and you have limited money, this expense might feel overwhelming. In that case, you might want to defer having a lawyer review your freelance contract until your business grows.
7. My client has a standard contract for freelancers and wants to use their contract instead of my contract. How do I respond to this request?
This is a common request especially when you are dealing with larger companies like banks, technology firms, and publicly traded firms. In these situations, think about which side has the most bargaining power: the freelancer or a multi-billion-dollar company (i.e. the client).
In most cases, the freelancer has a much smaller business. Therefore, it is often worthwhile to review the contract provided by the client. Take the time to verify that your key concerns like pricing, payment terms, and deadlines are reflected in the contract. If your top priorities are covered, it is reasonable to accept the agreement.
8. My type of freelance service was not listed in the freelance contract samples provided. What should I do?
The freelance contract templates provided in this guide are not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, look for an example that is closely related to your preferred offering. For example, you might offer video editing services to YouTube clients or provide weight loss coaching services. These services may be offered on an hourly rate basis. If so, use the Social media consultant contract template as a starting point. .
If your freelance services are priced on a project basis, use the Environmental consultant contract template instead.
If your preferred type of freelance service is significantly different from all of the examples provided, you will need to take a different approach. Reach out to three to five freelancers who offer a similar service to you and ask about their contracts. Many successful freelancers are willing to answer a few questions to help a newer business owner.
What To Do After You Design Your Freelance Contract Template
Creating a freelance contract template for your business protects you from risk and saves time. However, a contract is just one piece of your business system. You also need other processes in place to make sure you get paid what you are owed. That’s why you need CheckYa to send invoices and get paid. Click here to sign up for CheckYa today!