Every year I go into a retrospective haze where I think about everything I did wrong with my business and vow to make it better (along with my resolutions to recycle more and be nicer to my dog). I seem to remember a certain post from last year discussing the importance of writing service contracts as a freelancer.
Yet, here we are, another year later and I still don’t draft contracts for all my projects. Either the project is too small, I don’t want to impose on a new client, or they assure me it’s not necessary, there’s always a reason not to write a contract. As the contract hire, it’s my responsibility to write a contract, not my client’s. Here are five reasons [I need] to write a contract for EVERY project in 2012 (unless of course we die in a fiery, Mayan blaze – then, free work for everyone!):
- You’ll look legitimate. By drafting a contract you’re ensuring a certain amount of professionalism. You’ll also be portraying an, “I’ve done this before,” vibe that clients love to see.
- You’ll be guaranteed payment. I’ve been burned, as all freelancers have. Stop this broke-ass train before it starts or you’ll earn yourself a one-way ticket to Ramen-ville.
- You’ll be forced to finish the work. Hey, someone has to keep you on track [read: off the Entertainment Online blog]. A contract is a great way to set a deadline and motivate yourself to get things done.
- You’ll have a system in place. By drafting a solid contract, you’ll have a system set in place for all work. Whether it’s full web content, or a couple of advertising headlines, you’ll know the nature of the project before you start, because it’s in writing.
- You’ll be paid ON TIME. This is something I struggle with most as a freelancer. Sure, I’m paid…eventually. Next time you write a contract, add a clause about adding 10% interest for every week you don’t receive payment after a certain date. You’re likely to never receive a late payment again.
In the spirit of growing and learning, I’m vowing to write a contract for every new client project I take on. Not only will it protect me, but my clients will also enjoy peace of mind and a structured and professional start to every Blackbird Can Write transaction.
What’s your biggest professional challenge?