Freelancers: Always Use A Contract & Terms

If you meet a friendly potential client it’s really easy to start work without having a contract or terms in place. It might be fine, but you might end up working for nothing or getting in trouble. I got fleeced by an agency one time – delivering their project to a tight deadline meant making a decision to spend some extra time over a weekend and I didn’t get paid for the extra hours.

A Bit Of Paranoia Will Protect You

Potential clients may seem really friendly and interested in working together. While it might go fine some of the time, if you start a freelance project without a contract or terms in place it can quickly go wrong. Misunderstandings and wilful sharklike behaviour can leave you out of pocket and disillusioned.

If you assume that clients will wriggle a little bit and act accordingly you will protect your work and cashflow. Don’t be afraid of scaring people off with a contract – anyone worth working for will not see this as an issue. The people who moan about it are the ones likely to cause problems. A good contract and terms will show people you mean business and are not going to be pushed around.

Reddit and other forums are full of people raging about being ripped off and not paid. While it sucks that some clients will do this to people, you can design this situation out of your business with a good contract and terms. You don’t have to be a victim.

Benefits Of A Good Contract And Terms

  • You’ll get paid: Define when you get paid – ideally before you start work and before the final assets are delivered
  • You will avoid arguments: If it’s in black and white there’s less room for people to wriggle out of things
  • You will protect yourself: Having clauses for change requests, copyright transfer and other such things will protect you from issues down the line

Worth The Investment

You can use a simple email listing what you’re going to do, what you’re not going to do and when payments are due. You can use a ready made one off the internet (bit risky as it might not be legal in your country, and you might not understand it..) or you can have a lawyer draft one up for you.

If you pay for a contract and terms – it’s worth the money. It will save you getting ripped off and pay for itself over and over during the course of your freelance career.


This article has described why you need a contract and terms for your freelance business and why they are worth every penny it might cost you to have them professionally drawn up.