It’s no mystery that for many freelancers having a freelance contract in place before starting to work with a new client is optional.
Rushing to close the deal, being excited about the project, and even wanting to feel good in front of the new client make very often forget how important a freelance contract is. No matter if you know or don’t know the people you’re working with, you should have a freelance contract in place before starting to discuss business matters.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated freelance contract full of legalese: it has to be a comprehensive document where both you and your client feel represented and comfortable with, something that will easy you from non-payment, liability, and legal troubles.
If you’re looking for a new foolproof freelance contract template, keep reading this guide where you can find all the information you may need and also a free template you can use. If you’re in a rush, you can always use this table of contents that will straight to each section you’ll need in a freelance contract and to the examples.
Table of Contents
Why you should have a freelance contract in place?
Aside from being something needed from a legal standpoint, a freelance contract is a piece of document that will prevent the working relationship from turning into a nightmare. It’s easy to agree on clauses, things to do and everything else by voice or by email, but with a contract in place, both you and your client will be able to define what’s the scope of your relation, what the client expects from you and what’s the timeline, and also what you can expect from them.
A contract is a legal binding that removes any ambiguity or confusion that may arise when starting a new working relationship.
Asking a client to sign your freelance contract will give you the chance to understand if they’re serious and committed: if they keep postponing and/or they want you to start working before having a proper agreement in place, you may want to step back and rethink your verbal agreement.
If you don’t get your contract signed, you can incur in the risk of not getting paid, getting asked more than what you’ve agreed, and also being considered legally responsible for something you haven’t done.
Does this translate into a contract that is crazily long, excessively legal, and hard to understand? No: it translates into a clear and concise document, where all the most important information is included and that takes into consideration both your needs and your clients’ demands.
In fact, we strongly believe that a good freelance contract doesn’t protect just the self-employed but also the client, to create a well-balanced and equal working relation.
What to include into your freelance contract
Stating again the obvious here: don’t go overboard, do not put your relation off because your freelance contract is too much. Instead, create a document that is easy to ready, that goes straight to the point, includes everything that is necessary (e.g. terms of payment, expected deliverables, etc) and it’s the perfect balance between what you need and what your client needs.
There are the parts that make-up a freelance contract.
1. Initial Statement and Personal Information
This section is pretty self-explanatory: it includes information about both parties involved in the contract, their personal data, their role(s), the information on what you’re going to provide to the company, the deliverables, and the starting date.
This section usually takes very few lines and it’s a simple introduction to the most important part of the contract: the terms and conditions.
This Freelance Contract is entered into and made effective as of [Date] (the “Effective Date”), by and between [Company] , with an office located at [Address] (from now on called “Client”), and [Freelancer] , with an office located at [Address] (from now on called “Freelancer/Contractor”).
YOUR NAME (also known as “Contractor”) will provide COMPANY NAME, (also known as “Client”) with DESCRIPTION OF THE JOB as to the specifications detailed in the Terms and Conditions below.
2. Terms and Conditions
This is the section of your freelance contract agreement that defines what a client can expect from you and also what you expect from a client. This is where you have to go into the details, to avoid confusion and problems.
In this section, you must be sure to outline what are your terms of payment, what you’re going to provide to the company and deadlines.
Contractor will provide the following mutually agreed upon deliverables:
- Description of service
- Description of service
Deadlines will be decided on a regular basis and a specific timeline will be agreed upon. This clause can be reviewed, and the contract updated accordingly.
The following rates and terms apply:
The client will pay ZZZ$ per month to the Contractor. The contractor shall submit one monthly invoice and the Client will pay such invoice within 7 days of receipt by bank account.
This Agreement remains in full force from __ until this agreement is terminated by either party giving to the other not less than 30 days prior written notice or as otherwise provided in this letter.
Make sure you ask the Client to give you the Company details so you can add them to the agreement to avoid confusion at the time of invoicing.
Also remember that if your Client asks for things outside of the scope of this agreement, you have the right to charge for these extra requests. Always make sure you add an extra line mentioning your hourly rate for extra work or requests that are not included in the agreement.
One of the more frustrating elements of freelancing can be adding the deadlines: make sure you agree on the deadlines with your Client prior to signing up the contract and add them to the formal agreement. If you don’t have fixed deadlines, specify this in the contract (see above) making clear this may be reviewed.
Last but not least, it’s in the Terms and Conditions that you need to specify working hours and everything that can create a liability to your schedule.
“Contractor is not required to work on a fixed schedule and can be based remotely, as long as the agreed services are carried out to acceptable standards as set out by both the contractor and Client. The contractor will be available Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm. The contractor agrees to work x hours in each calendar month. If the contractor works less than x hours each month, the monthly service fee will be pro-rated to reflect the change in hours worked. If the contractor works more than x hours in any calendar month, the contractor will charge the client x$ for each additional hour.
3. Changes and Revisions
Freelancers know that their work can be reviewed multiple times, changes may be asked and the pieces of work delivered may be changed by the Client. It’s up to you if you want to be strict with this and ask for a supplementary fee or you want to be easy, and make yourself available for every change requested. It is also up to you if you don’t want to consent to your deliverables to be changed without you knowing it.
We recommend being flexible and reasonable, without ending up working too much on something you’ve already delivered and that’s been changed by them.
Freelancer agrees that Client may make any changes or additions to the content sent by Freelancer, which Client in its sole discretion may consider necessary, and may engage others to do any or all of the foregoing, with or without attribution to Freelancer.
Freelancer agrees to x number of edits within X days of delivery. Edits requested as a result of a change in the strategy or the scope of the assignment will be considered a separate task and quoted accordingly.
4. Legal Clause
Even if you want to keep your freelance contract as easy as possible, you need to add a few legal clauses that will allow you not to be sued or made accountable for things you haven’t done. Just for clarity, we’re not lawyers so make sure your legal clauses reflect your business and the place where you’re located.
Example of legal clauses:
“Contractor cannot guarantee that her work will always be completely error-free and so she cannot be liable to the Company or any third-party for damages, including lost profits, lost savings or other incidental, consequential or special damages, even if the parties have been advised of the possibility of such damages. The foregoing limitation applies to all causes of action in the aggregate, including without limitation to breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, strict liability, and other torts. If any provision of this contract shall be unlawful, void, or for any reason is unenforceable, then that provision shall be deemed severable from this contract and shall not affect the validity and enforceability of any remaining provisions”.
5. Confidential Information
Confidential information means all the information that you may come across during your working time as a consultant for a company and that you don’t want to share. It’s professionally fair to add a clause into your freelance contract to officially declare you won’t make any use of the confidential information.
Example of a confidential clause:
“You shall not use or disclose to any person either during or at any time after your engagement by the Client any confidential information about the business or affairs of the Client or any of its business contacts, or about any other confidential matters which may come to your knowledge in the course of providing the Services”.
6. Intellectual Property Rights
This section of the freelance agreement also includes clauses that protect your Client, just to be fair and professional. It also protects you from being accused of misconduct. You may want to check the specific law of your Country to better understand whether you need to add something more specific or a generic statement would suffice.
Make sure you clearly state you will be eventually adding the Client to your portfolio, just to avoid problems in the future.
This is a commonly used Intellectual Property Rights clause on a freelance contract:
“The Contractor hereby assigns to the Client all existing and future intellectual property rights (including, without limitation, patents, copyright, and related rights) arising from the Services for the Client. For the avoidance of doubt, the Client has the copyright of all work provided by the Contractor and may re-use or translate material where applicable. The Contractor may not publish (online or offline) or sell elsewhere any work completed for The Client. The contractor can showcase sample works from this project or the name of the Client as portfolio pieces”.
7. Freelancers terms
This is another important section of a well-written freelance contract and it’s where you should specify your status and how different it is from the one of an in-house employer.
This is just one of the few terms you may want to add:
- The Contractor shall provide the necessary software to perform the services.
As sad as it may sound, the Termination clause is a necessary piece for your freelance agreement. In fact, a termination clause allows either party to exit the freelance contract, in specific situations where there’s nothing more to do to save the relations.
Bear in mind: a good freelancer steps up from difficult clients and projects if needed. This is a necessary step to grow a freelancing business, so you don’t have to be afraid of adding the Termination clause to your contract. It is a useful clause that can set you free with no hassle.
This clause can be negotiated and both parties may agree to add the various reasons why a contract should be terminated. You may be requested to give x day notice, and it’s up to you to agree or not, based on your needs.
9. Non-compete clause
A Client should never ask a freelance consultant to limit his freedom to work for different companies, even within the same industry. Make sure you discuss this with your client prior to sign the contract and also add a clause in the contract as well.
Example of a non-compete clause:
“The Contractor reserves the right to keep working for other clients: it is his responsibility to ensure he devotes proper time, attention, and abilities to the Client to the best of her capacity”.
10. Changes to Terms of the Agreement
You’re now at the end of the document, and you’ve to clearly state what happens in case of changes to the terms of the agreement, by simply adding a few lines to explain that changes to terms will be discussed and accepted by both parties.
“Both the Company and the Contractor reserve the right to make reasonable changes to any of the terms and conditions of the working relationship. Any change to the terms and conditions will be notified by both parties and discussed before the date of the proposed change, and will take effect with both parties’ acceptance of acquiescence”.
How to Send Your Freelance Contract
Make sure both you and your client sign the contract and store a copy for future reference.
Once your freelance agreement is ready to be shared with the Client, make sure you facilitate its reading and its reception. You can opt for a simple document to be sent via email and to receive back by email, or for something more professional and easy to manage.
Bonsai is the perfect solution for this: you can upload your document, send it to your client, and ask them to countersign digitally in just one click. This process will avoid wasting your time creating the email, sending the doc, receiving, and storing back.
Bonsai is also a nice solution for many other things, a perfect all-in-one tool to manage your freelancing business maximizing your results and minimizing the time spent on each task.
The pricing starts at $19/month for the Workflow Plan, but you can try HelloBonsai for free using this link.
The Best Freelance Contract Template
If you follow these instructions, your freelance contract template will be your secret weapon when closing deals with new clients: it will protect you and your freelance work, and it will create the basis for a healthy and open relationship with your client. You don’t need a law degree to create a freelance contract: just use the information above and your agreement will be perfect!
Freelance Contract Template Free Download
Enter your email below and get access to the freelance contract we use when we start working with new clients. This Freelance Contract Template has been used for years and it has proven to be effective, easy to understand, and highly comprehensive. Be sure to adapt our freelance contract to meet your own needs. According to your specific business, you may want to include other clauses that help protect your business, and better reflect your industry.
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