Does your contract include these items?

Like I said in my last post, I want every freelancer to have a contract—no excuses! To make sure there are no excuses, I shared my own contract which can be used a model.

Today I want to talk about my contract in a little more detail and cover what’s important and why. The best thing about having a detailed contract is what you can include what specifically matters to you…even if it’s obscure or unexpected (like this funny video about Steve Carell’s movie poster contract). Though I haven’t designated anything about head size, my contract includes:

Definitions

When it comes to a contract, there’s no room for confusion. Just so we’re on the same page and both parties are clear about what the terms mean, I define agreement, copyrights, deliverables, designer tools, final art, project, services and trademarks.

Effective Date

You don’t want this contract to be valid forever…or else a client might come back in five years—after your rates have drastically increased—wanting the same terms. I use a term of 90 days, so the client has to execute the agreement within that period or it’s subject to change.

Fees and Charges

This section covers the difference between fees and expenses, the payment timeframe and what happens if payments are late.

Grant of Rights

Who owns what (and when)? Who gets to use what (and when)? This sections breaks all of this down very specifically so there is no question.

This is also where I talk about Samples. Wouldn’t you like to use your finished projects to promote your work? Of course you would. The contract is where this information should be covered.

Client Responsibilities

Your contract is a great place to lay out the specific involvement expected from the client. I’ve specifically mentioned timely decision-making, provision of content and proofreading.

Confidential Information

When you are working together, there is a certain amount of confidential information that both parties will become aware of. The contract is the right place to agree that these things stay private.

Relationship of the Parties

It’s super important to define the relationship between designer and client. I use this section to define “Independent Contractor” and designate that a) I am permitted to engage third-party designers or service providers and b) that there is no exclusivity in the relationship.

Warranties

What does the future hold regarding this project and relationship? In this section, I define the parameters, time periods and details regarding support services and maintenance.

Indemnification/Liability

If something negative happens in the future in a way that somehow relates to your project, who is responsible? This is the place to protect yourself from liability.

Term and Termination

If you’ve ever had a project stall or get cancelled and you didn’t have a contract—you may have felt like you were up a creek without a paddle. What happens if the project stalls? What if it gets cancelled? This section lays out the specific timeframes and expenses associated with each situation.

Miscellany

This section clarifies the legality of this contract with the most important part being: “Its terms can be modified only by an instrument in writing signed by both parties, except that the Client may authorize expenses or revisions orally.”

View my contract here and feel free to use it as inspiration for your own. And to make sure you’ve covered all your bases, you might want to get your contract reviewed by a lawyer. Any information here is not intended as legal advice.

What’s the most specific or unusual thing that you have included/will include in your contract?

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