I get this question from new freelancers sometimes, so I want to share my actual contract with you.
It is so important to have a contract in place as a freelancer, an entrepreneur, and as a client.
Your contract should dictate payments, deadlines, deliverables, and anything else having to do with the client/freelancer relationship. Both of you should sign this and have a deposit paid before ANY work is done (if you require one).
Of course, there are many free contract templates available online. I myself found my original contract after searching a bunch of sites to find one that I thought would work for me. I ended up adding and changing things on it and had an awesome lawyer friend take a look at it to make sure it all made sense and would be binding.
Contracts are put in place to protect ALL parties, not just the freelancer. The client is getting a guarantee of the work and deliverables they can expect, as well as timelines and payment schedules. Mine also covers intellectual property rights, confidentiality, rights to terminate, liability, and a couple miscellaneous things and the entire thing is less than 5 pages. The actual part that spells everything out (before the terms and conditions) is just over one page long. I didn’t want something that was 14 pages of legal jargon!
My contract is an MS Word document which I fill in with the necessary information before sending over to clients. I offer the use of HelloSign (I have a free plan) for a digital signature if they prefer that. [I put it into a Google doc below to make it easier to share with you! I personally prefer to email it as an attachment to clients, but I’m sure sending them a Google doc would be equally as effective.]
I personally ask for a 25% deposit on all projects (not monthly retainer clients). There are many reasons to ask for a deposit. Here are a few:
- You weed out people who don’t want to pay!
- Clients are more invested in the work and in your relationship because they have some skin in the game and are literally investing!
- It is a smart business move!
I make sure to list out and specify exactly what I will be responsible for, what the client will actually receive, and all timelines and deadlines. I also let the client know they should read it over and let me know if they need any changes, as I would need to see them before signing it myself.
After the client signs it, I countersign it, send them a copy, and then file it on my computer.
Here is my full contract as a Google doc. You are welcome to take it and adapt it for your own use. Reach out to me if you have any questions, I am happy to help!