As a writer, you don’t always think of the legalities behind it, especially as a nurse or healthcare provider. Of course, we don’t want to practice outside our scope and realize that that would give us legal trouble, but many don’t think of themselves as a business, and therefore, don’t think about contracts with clients.
As someone who has learned from not having a contract, you MUST have one. It’s one of the biggest questions I get asked, and one of the answers I never hesitate, no matter what size your business is. This article will help you understand why having a contract is so important to your freelance writing business.
One of the biggest reasons you need a contract is to protect you, and your client. If a client hesitates to sign a contract, be wary. It isn’t there to make anyone feel bad but to protect both parties from things like nonpayment, rewrites, plagiarism, etc.
In a world of perfect clients, the writer submits work and is paid that day. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case. Personally, I have never been stiffed on payment, but I have gotten close to it. I had to hound them daily at some points to pay for my hours of hard work. No business deserves that. A contract will protect you against it.
No Guessing Games
When you have a contract, your client knows exactly what they are going to get and knows exactly what to expect from you. The guessing is out of the picture. With a contract, you have the deliverables mentioned in it, so your client knows the details beforehand. Then, if there is an issue later, it’s not your word against theirs.
How to Craft a Contract
Full disclosure here, I am not a lawyer, by any means. This part of this article will tell you what to think about to include in a contract, but please, let a lawyer look at it before you make it final. It’s worth the investment.
- The Scope Creep Clause – This part will help you with contract changes. For example, if your client wants you to write 4 articles a month, and now added on social media scheduling, you have a right to say that it is outside the scope of work and you would like to edit the contract. Clients try to scope creep often (because you rock), but be wary of giving your time up without legally covering yourself.
- Scope of work – The scope of work gives as much detail between the client and your business to explain everything that will be done. The details must be clear enough that you can read it and know exactly what both parties are getting.
- Pricing – Inside the contract, always include payment details, including terms and how long the client has to pay you. Again, this is where I have been burned before, but if I had a contract that said, “Within thirty days, the contractor will receive payment”, I could have said, “per our contract…”, which stands up better than begging for money.
- Kill Fee – This doesn’t happen often to me, but think about if some project all of a sudden is terminated, would you be responsible for that? Do you lose money? The kill fee will still pay you some portion (sometimes even 100% if it’s not your fault)
- Content Rights – Be sure to include the rights to the writing work. This may be set by your client when you accept the job, so make sure it’s in here. More of the time, the client is buying rights to your work, but sometimes, you can have them hold it until you are paid. It’s something to discuss with your client.
Developing a contract can take some time, but it’s worth it. You only need to be burned once to understand that. You can search Google for some templates for freelancers to help you start the process.
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