How to Write a Freelance Contract: What Must You Include?

June 3, 2024

As a freelancer, it is important to ensure security between the work agreed upon and the compensation. In this guide, we discuss when we need freelance contracts, issues if they are not created, and more.

James Fyfe
Co-founder - CEO

A freelance contract is a blueprint for a potential successful partnership in freelancing, where independent contractors and clients collaborate. It's not just a formality but a legally binding agreement outlining the project's terms, conditions, and expectations. 

Whether you're a freelance writer, designer, developer, or any other professional, understanding how to write a freelance contract is crucial for protecting your interests and ensuring a smooth workflow.

What is a Freelance Contract?

Freelance contracts are a legally binding agreements between a freelancer and a client. It defines the scope of work, project details, payment terms, deadlines, and other essential aspects of the collaboration. It serves as a roadmap for the project, laying out clear expectations for both parties.

When Do You Need a Freelance Contract?

  • New Clients: When engaging with new clients, it's imperative to have a freelance contract in place to establish mutual understanding and protect each other's interests.
  • Ongoing Work: Even if you have an established relationship with a client, having a freelance contract for each project ensures clarity and prevents misunderstandings.
  • Missed Deadlines: If deadlines are not met or if the project scope expands, a contract helps resolve disputes and manage expectations.
  • Early Termination: The contract outlines the procedure and any associated penalties in case the project needs to be terminated prematurely.
  • Ownership Rights: To clarify intellectual property rights and ownership of the work produced during the project.

Issues You Could Face Without a Freelance Contracts in Place

  • Payment Disputes: With a clear agreement on payment terms, freelancers can avoid getting paid or facing delayed payments.
  • Scope Creep: Projects can easily veer off track without a defined scope, leading to misunderstandings and disagreements.
  • Legal Vulnerability: Operating without a contract leaves both parties legally exposed in case of disputes or breaches of agreement.
  • Confidentiality Concerns: With an NDA agreement, sensitive information may be adequately protected, risking the project's integrity.
  • Project Abandonment: In the absence of termination terms, either party may find it challenging to exit the agreement gracefully, leading to project abandonment.

What to Include in a Freelance Contract?

Contact Information of Both Parties - You, as the Client and the Freelancer

In addition to basic contact details, consider including secondary contact information, such as alternate phone numbers or email addresses, to ensure seamless communication, especially in emergencies or unexpected circumstances. 

It's also advisable to specify preferred communication channels to streamline correspondence and avoid misunderstandings regarding communication expectations. 

Including physical addresses or official company details can legitimize the contract and clarify the legal entities involved in the agreement.

Project Breakdown - All Details Related to Project Requirements, Expectations, and Deadlines

When breaking down your project in your freelance contract, it's essential to include a detailed description of the project scope, listing specific tasks, milestones, and deliverables expected from both parties. 

Providing a clear timeline with realistic deadlines for each phase of the project helps manage expectations and ensures that the freelancer and the client are aligned on project timelines. 

Outlining each deliverable's expected quality standards or performance metrics can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the final outcome meets the client's requirements.

Prices of Work to be Delivered

In addition to specifying prices and rates for the work to be delivered, consider including details on any additional expenses or reimbursable costs that may arise during the project. This could include expenses such as travel, materials, or software licenses necessary to complete the project successfully. 

Clearly defining the scope of work covered by the agreed-upon prices helps prevent scope creep and makes sure that both parties have a mutual understanding of the financial obligations associated with the project. Having provisions included for price adjustments or renegotiations in case of significant changes to the project scope can help maintain flexibility and fairness throughout the contract duration.

Payment Terms

In the payment terms section, it's important to include specific details on the invoicing process, including the format and frequency of invoices and any required documentation or supporting materials. 

Adding the payment schedule, including due dates for each invoice and any applicable late fees or penalties for overdue payments, helps establish mutual expectations and ensures timely payment processing. 

Specifying the preferred payment methods and currency can facilitate smooth transactions, especially in cross-border collaborations. Consider including provisions for upfront deposits or milestone payments to provide financial security for the freelancer and mitigate non-payment risk.

Legal Terms

Incorporating legal terms in the contract helps protect the rights and interests of both parties and ensures enforceability in case of disputes or breaches of agreement. 

This could include specifying the governing law and jurisdiction for resolving disputes and outlining procedures for arbitration or mediation if informal resolution attempts fail. Including clauses related to force majeure events, such as natural disasters or unforeseen circumstances beyond the parties' control, helps clarify responsibilities and liabilities in case of project disruptions. 

Addressing intellectual property rights, including ownership and licensing terms for project deliverables, also helps prevent disputes over proprietary information and ensures clarity on usage rights post-project completion.

NDA Agreement

Incorporating a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) into your freelance contract is essential for protecting sensitive information and maintaining confidentiality throughout the project. An NDA agreement ensures that both parties understand their obligations regarding theq handling and protecting confidential information exchanged during the collaboration.

To streamline the creation of an NDA agreement, you can utilize pre-made templates on platforms like Portant. Portant offers an NDA agreement template to meet business needs and legal requirements. 

Portant's Non-Disclosure Agreement Template

These pre-made templates save you valuable time and effort by providing a ready-to-use framework for drafting your NDA agreement. They eliminate the need to create an additional document on top of the freelance contract agreement.

By leveraging Portant's NDA agreement templates, you can customize the document to suit your specific project requirements and preferences. 

Portant's user-friendly interface makes creating, editing, and managing NDA agreements online easy. You can customize the template with relevant details such as the parties involved, the scope of confidential information covered, and the duration of the confidentiality obligations. Once finalized, you can securely share the NDA agreement with the other party for review and signature, all within the Portant platform.

With Portant's pre-made NDA agreement template, you can establish a confidential relationship with your clients or freelancers without the hassle of drafting a separate document from scratch. This streamlined approach saves you time and resources and ensures compliance with legal requirements and industry best practices regarding confidentiality agreements.

Revisions and Project Updates

It is important to establish clear procedures for requesting and implementing changes to the project scope or deliverables. This may include specifying the process for submitting revision requests, including required documentation or specifications, and the timeframe for reviewing and approving proposed changes. 

Outlining any associated costs or fees for revisions beyond the initial scope helps manage client expectations and prevents scope creep. Consider including provisions for prioritizing urgent revisions or accommodating unforeseen circumstances impacting project timelines. 

Establishing regular communication channels for project updates and progress reports helps maintain transparency and fosters a collaborative working relationship between the freelancer or independent contractor and the client.

Termination Clause

Incorporating detailed termination terms in the contract helps clarify the circumstances under which either party can terminate the agreement and the associated consequences or penalties. 

This may include specifying valid reasons for termination, such as breach of contract, non-performance, or insolvency, and outlining the notice period required before termination takes effect. 

Additionally, including provisions for resolving disputes or negotiating settlements upon termination helps facilitate a smooth transition and minimize disruptions to ongoing projects. Including provisions for termination fees can help compensate the freelancer for work completed up to the termination date and mitigate financial losses resulting from early contract termination.

Indemnity Clause

The indemnity clause is a crucial safeguard against unforeseen liabilities and risks that may arise during the project. By including this clause, both parties can protect themselves from potential legal consequences resulting from breaches of the agreement or actions beyond their control.

The indemnity clause should clearly outline the extent of indemnification, including the types of liabilities covered, such as legal fees, damages, or settlement costs incurred due to a breach of contract or negligence. 

Specifying the procedure for invoking indemnification, including notification requirements and the process for resolving disputes related to indemnity claims, is essential.

Signatures of Both Parties

In today's digital age, obtaining signatures from both parties for a freelance contract has become more convenient and efficient with electronic signature features that software like Portant provides to its users. 

With Portant's e-signature functionality, you can easily have the freelance contract signed by both the client and freelancer using digital signatures, eliminating the need for printing, scanning, or mailing physical documents.

By leveraging Portant's intuitive interface, you can upload your contract document, add signature fields for both parties and send out signature requests electronically. Portant offers advanced features such as document tracking, reminder notifications, and audit trails, ensuring the integrity and security of the signature process.

You can also integrate Portant with your email provider to streamline the contract signature workflow. By connecting your email with the platform, you can send out signature requests directly from your email client, track the status of signature requests in real time, and seamlessly receive signed contracts back.

With Portant's digital signature solution, you can automate the contract signing process, reduce administrative overhead, and ensure compliance with legal requirements for electronic signatures. 

Portant offers a convenient and secure way to finalize agreements and kickstart your projects.

Contract Management with Portant

Starting a freelance project holds numerous administrative tasks, from making contracts to managing agreements and facilitating signatures. Thankfully, Portant offers an adequate solution for contract management, empowering users to simplify every step of the process seamlessly.

Utilize a Library of Contract Templates 

With Portant's pre-made Google Docs contract template, you can kickstart your project without the hassle of starting from scratch. Whether you need a freelance contract, an NDA agreement, or any other legal document, Portant's pre-made templates provide a solid foundation to get the dice rolling when drafting the contract. 

These templates are professionally crafted and customizable to suit your specific requirements, saving you valuable time and effort in document creation.

Create Further Agreements Down the Way 

You may need additional agreements or contract amendments as your freelance journey progresses. Portant empowers you to create further agreements effortlessly. With access to a diverse range of templates for various legal documents, you can quickly generate new contracts as needed, ensuring that your contractual arrangements remain up-to-date and compliant with evolving project requirements.

Digitally Sign Your Contracts

Gone are the days of printing, scanning, and mailing paper contracts. With Portant's e-Sign contract technology, you can sign contracts digitally, eliminating cumbersome paperwork and expediting the signature process. 

With just a few clicks, you can securely sign contracts online as a freelancer or a client. Portant's e-signature functionality ensures legal validity and compliance when signing contracts with electronic signature regulations, providing peace of mind throughout the contract signing process.

Populate Contract Data from Your Favorite CRM

Last but not least, with Portant you can effortlessly populate your contracts with data from any of your favorite CMS, including but not limited to HubSpot, Saleshub and Coopper. 

There is no need to copy and paste data manually from one application to another. Portant thinks about your cost efficiency and tailored solutions that streamline everyday business operations.

Portant's E-signature feature

Send Contracts via Email 

Once your contract is ready for signature, Portant lets you easily send it via your professional email by adding the respective recipients. Seamlessly integrate your email account with Portant to streamline communication and document exchange. 

Portant's Functionality of sending your contract to clients directly from the platform

Whether you're sending the freelance contract to your freelancer or vice versa, Portant ensures that your correspondence remains professional and organized, facilitating efficient collaboration and project management.

By leveraging Portant as your contract management tool, you can navigate the complexities of freelance agreements with confidence and efficiency. From accessing template libraries to facilitating digital signatures and email communication, Portant automates every aspect of the contract lifecycle management, empowering you to focus on what you do best – delivering exceptional freelance services.

Sum Up

Writing a freelance contract is a smart way to protect your interests, establish clear expectations, and ensure a successful project outcome. By including essential components such as contact information, project details, payment terms, and legal provisions in your freelancer contract you can mitigate risks, build trust with clients, and create a stress-free collaboration. 

A well-crafted freelance contract is a formality and crucial to every freelancer's business operations. 

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