8 Factors to Consider Before Signing a Freelance Contract
You meet with a new client, discuss the details of your freelance project, discover your shared passion for video games, and agree to work together. Next comes the paperwork. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to read the document carefully, keeping the following 8 factors in mind:
1. Payment Rate
Spell out a payment schedule. Do you work with a half now, half upon completion payment schedule, or with 3 installments of 40-40-20? Will you be paid hourly? If yes, be sure to include a minimum and maximum work-hour clause.
In addition to defining the payment parameters, make sure your rates match your experience, expertise, and skill level. We recently surveyed over 23,000 freelancers from around the globe and found that the average professional charges an hourly rate of $21.
Are you charging enough? Find out how your rates measure up to professionals in your industry/ country with the Payoneer Freelancer Income Survey.
When is each phase of the project due? A freelance contract must state the exact time-frame each deliverable should arrive on the client’s desk. If you’re designing a web site, for example, you might deliver one page every week until the project’s completion. For a copywriting contract, you might specify deliverables in terms of words (e.g. 400 words every two days).
What does the client expect to receive from you? Describe every deliverable in as much detail as possible so that all cards on on the table and you have a clear vision of how to achieve your goals. If the client says they are looking for you to design a “fresh,” “bold” website, be sure to define what exactly in their mind is “fresh” and “bold.”
4. Payment Method
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Be sure to determine ahead of time how many revisions are included in your original scope as well as the cost of subsequent revisions. If you are a web designer, for instance, you’ll want to tell your client that you will design three home page options from which they can select their favorite. The top pick will go through a series of up to 3 revisions. All additional revisions will cost X amount of dollars hourly.
6. Late Payments and Deliverables
What happens when payments or deliverables undergo a delay? Contracts might specify a fee for late payments or assign a deduction in your fee if you fail to meet a deadline. Make sure these types of scenarios are clearly laid out in your contract.
7. Point of Contact
Have you ever worked with a client where you had two or more people giving you feedback and requesting changes? To avoid this nightmare, include a ‘single point of contact’ clause, which limits your communication to one person. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the person who signs the contract is different than the person who will help you with project related questions/ milestones. Ask about this if it isn’t specified in the contract.
Freelancers often work under conditions of confidentiality, which means the client doesn’t want the public to know who created the work. Some clients require freelancers to sign a separate document called a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). It prohibits the freelancer from disclosing the relationship to any third party. Determine ahead of time if you will be able to include the work on your online profile/ website. If you sign a contract with a confidentiality agreement, make sure the price of the project merits that agreement. Most freelancers charge more when they don’t receive credit for their work.
If you have any questions about your freelance contract, ask for clarification or consult a lawyer. Since a contract should represent a meeting of the minds, make sure you understand every word.