Hey Freelancers, Here’s Why You A Need Contract!

By Darielle Teitelbaum

freelancer legal contract templates

As a freelancer, setting up your business for success requires a lot of hard work, but ensuring your assets are protected and all client expectations are clear from the get go should be a top priority. While there are many online tools that allow you to download free waivers and contracts, oftentimes they are missing important clauses that could be very costly should things go awry. Here’s why having reliable contracts and agreements in place that have been drafted by a lawyer should be an essential part of your business.

Protect Yourself

Having a signed contract in place prior to starting any work clearly outlines what services the client is paying for and states how the work you create will be used (and for how long). A Client Agreement, for example, empowers you to take control over the licensing and ownership of the work you create and protects you from having it used without compensation or your permission.

Client Agreement

As we’ve experienced over the last few months, unexpected circumstances can arise out of the blue and may lead to cancellations or delays. Having a signed Client Agreement in place before beginning your freelance work, outlines the expectations of both parties should plans change. In a Client Agreement, you’ll be able to outline payment schedules based on the degree of work completed (do you have an on-going retainer? Do you get paid bi-weekly? etc.) and decide on who owns the work that has been created so far (is it you or the client) as well as what happens should either party wish to terminate the Agreement.

With a signed Client Agreement, you’ll also be able to outline that you require a non-refundable down payment before beginning any project work. When this is signed off, you’ll know that your client is committed to the project and you can have peace of mind knowing you won’t need to spend time chasing down any owed payment.

Having a Client Agreement in place is an excellent way to ensure both you and your client are on the same page throughout the project and acts as a reference point for both you and your client regarding expectations and clear communication.

Waivers

Another important contract to have in place, especially if you are offering an activity or service, is a waiver. A waiver is a release form that protects you from liability (aka legal responsibility) in the event of an injury during an event or activity. This contract contains an agreement between two parties by which the person signing it confirms that they understand the risk involved and promise not to sue the other party for any damages or injuries incurred during the event/activity.

Online Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Having a well-branded website is a key component to any business. It not only provides prospective clients with a portfolio of your work, but it also walks them through what to expect when working with you. Before you launch your website, ensure you have a well articulated Terms & Conditions section as well as a Privacy Policy, both of which are often found in a website’s footer and as opt in pop-ups. These two pages form a contract between you/corporation and the user/visitor to your website. The Terms and Conditions often outline key terms for the visitor’s use of the site and protect the website owner (you!) from any damages or harm that may incur as a visitor browses your site. A Privacy Policy tells your site visitors in what ways you gather, use, or disclose their personal data and information while browsing your site and what third-party applications you may use in running your business. Examples of personal information includes a site visitor’s name, date of birth, address, contact information, financial records, and more. A Privacy Policy also outlines whether or not you keep this personal information private or if you sell it to any third parties or partners. These two important legal contracts allow you to be transparent with your site visitors, leaving no room for misinterpretation or miscommunication.

Set the Record Straight

As your freelance career evolves, the contracts you have in place will provide you with an immense sense of security and professionalism. Each contract acts as a reference point should your client have any questions and will ensure you are both being held accountable as you work together. Set the record straight from the get go and don’t leave any questions unanswered. With highly transparent contracts in place, you’ll have less to worry about and more time to focus on building your business!

Are you ready to have contracts for your business? Follow AWE Contracts today at www.awecontracts.com or @awecontracts to get reliable downloadable contract templates drafted specifically for your industry!

If you're a freelancer who needs legal advice in Ontario, contact AWE Legal today.