Contracts are really important for freelance work, as they’re a safety net for both the client and the freelancer. So not taking the time to draw up a proper freelance contract can be way more trouble than it’s worth. Here are the things not to do when writing a contract.
Don’t use someone else’s contract
When you start playing around with all that legal jargon, it can be really tempting to just use someone else’s terms to save you the hassle of drawing up a contract. But this is a really bad idea, as you don’t know if the terms of that contract even apply to the project in question. It’s also pretty risky in terms of copyright law. It’s best to take the time to draw up a contract that you know for a fact is watertight and you know inside out. The last thing you want is to have a clause you didn’t know existed totally backfire in your unsuspecting face.
Don’t use an unaltered template
Whether it’s your own template or one you’ve sourced from elsewhere, don’t just hand it over to a client unaltered. Make sure that the terms in it apply to the project and relationship in question and amend it as necessary. Different types of projects will need different contracts to properly cover them.
Don’t let it go out of date
If the project changes – whether it be in scope, purpose, price or timeframe – make sure you update the contract to reflect the alterations. If the project’s extended or the contract expires, renew the contract. An out of date contract is a problem waiting to happen and can get you in legal trouble.
Don’t randomly change the contract
Don’t just decide to randomly change the deadline on a contract without telling your freelancer. In fact, don’t change anything on a whim without careful consideration and talking to the other party first. If changes aren’t agreed on, you risk at best looking flaky and at worst invalidating the contract altogether. On top of that, you probably don’t know the ins and outs of contract law so even a small change could have massive ramifications.
Check out this article for a more light-hearted contract amendment, with 100% added birthday cake.
Don’t just not bother
So you might be thinking now that contracts are more trouble than they’re worth, but that’s definitely not the case. Not having a contract at all is more of a problem than any of these other issues put together. Take the time to do it properly. Most of the time you probably won’t need it, but you’re going to be grateful when that piece of paper is the only thing stopping you being sued into oblivion!
Struggling to construct a contract? You can download our free template here.