There’s a proverb that states “The prudent [person] sees trouble coming and prepares for it. This is one of the wisest admonitions in scripture, and it pertains to freelancing.
 
Let’s apply it to using contracts when working with clients.
 
Neglecting to get the project parameters and expectations in writing up front opens the door for all kinds of trouble to show up. Your road ahead may be full of potholes and roadblocks.
 
So many freelancers in all sectors work without written contracts. They rely on verbal agreements, and often don’t even follow up a conversation via email to confirm what was decided. 
 
Why is this happening?
 
Why do so many freelancers fail to use contracts? 
 
When a fellow freelancer comes to me for advice regarding a client problem, one of my first questions is, “What does your contract say?” But when they don’t have a contract in place, that’s the first problem to solve.
 
If we know a working relationship can go south, it’s simply common sense to prepare for that kind of scenario. If we ask, “What could go wrong in this project?” up front, then we realize the need for putting the agreement in writing, and we have the basis for writing a contract.
 
With creative freelancers, a boilerplate contract template downloaded from the internet doesn’t address particulars of creative projects, including:
  • Transfer of rights to the work — copyright
  • Ownership of the working files (preliminary work)
  • Creative reviews 
  • Scope creep
  • Changes to scope requested by the client.
 
If your intention is to do work for a client and be paid for it, it’s important to have the agreement in writing. You’re more likely to be paid by the client and less likely to deal with scope creep.
 
What if your client won’t sign a contract?
 
Here’s a very direct and concise answer: They’re not your client until they sign your contract. Don’t do any work for them. Don’t start the project. There’s no reason to invest your time and creative energy on behalf of a person or business who does not intend to pay you. Refusing to sign a contract is a sure indicator that the client isn’t serious and may be planning to take advantage of you.
 
 
Most clients are trustworthy. 
 
It’s my experience that most clients are trustworthy. The trustworthy ones understand that the creative services we provide to them are necessary for their own prosperity, and that they’re making an investment in their brand. They may have questions about your contract, but they won’t refuse to sign it. 
 
It’s those few clients who won’t sign. So ask yourself, if they won’t agree in writing, why not? What’s their basis? You can even ask them the question, “Why?” 
 
Fellow freelancers, do business. Make good business decisions and you increase your likelihood for long-term success.
 
If you have a particular contract or client situation and you want my advice, book a coaching  session.

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