We’ve been covering all the bits from putting in a pitch to actually starting the job. Next I want to include the basics of what should be included in a contract, please note in no way am I a lawyer…this is not proper legal advise.
Covering your ass
The main point of any contract is essentially to cover your butt if things go wrong. This makes it a bit scary. There’s so many potential things that could happen. so many scenarios to think of. It’s no wonder the banks have to include 67 pages of tiny font when you sign up to anything! As long as you have the basics covered that’s what’s important because…
Contracts ain’t worth shit
This is a sad fact about business. All too often I see people shout “call the lawyers!” whenever bad clients are mentioned, but the real truth of the matter is that small court is a slow, stressful process that will cost you money. Even with a signed contract some clients might not care. Don’t get me wrong having a signed contract is important, and it shows you’re serious about your business, but generally you want to avoid the courts.
A quintessential part of any contract is to put in writing exactly what you are doing, the time it will take and the amount of money you expect to be paid. I would also put in some contingencies for instance a kill fee if a project has to be abandoned for reasons outside of your control. You want to include your payment terms and payment details, obviously some companies may have their own terms you should be aware of.
You need to be very clear how many revisions a client will get and the additional costs should they go over that. It’s very easy for your valuable time to be taken up with scope creep, (extra little jobs) and also I would include key deadlines. Your work will often just be a small part of any client’s day so it’s important they come back to you in time otherwise it can seriously affect your cash flow.
How your work is used and who owns the intellectual rights is key. One easy thing to do is to make sure you own any copyright up to and until the client pays you. You should also consider if they are allowed to take your work and change it/reuse it in other ways.
I would have a custom contract for each job/client and some standards terms and conditions that you give to everyone. Next I want to talk about another crucial element you need before you start work: a deposit!