If you are doing any type of freelance work, or working as an independent contractor, I highly recommend having a contract in place with any client.
When you have had an informal conversation with someone about work that you are going to do for them and they come back to you with a contract, pay special attention to the following sections of the contract:
- Pay rate and payment terms
- The scope of work
- Delivery expectations
- Content licensing and IP
1. Pay Rate and Payment Terms
It’s perfectly okay to negotiate a pay rate with a contract. If the payment terms are not reflective of your previous conversations with the business or client, mostly it’s not deliberate and can be clarified by contacting the client to discuss your concerns.
I also recommend having a clause that includes the option to re-negotiate payment rates at review periods, within 6 or 12 months, or each time the brief changes. Avoid getting stuck on a fixed rate for a long period of time or indefinitely as that will not serve you long-term.
2. Scope of Work
The second area of a contract to pay attention to is the Scope Of Work. This is another section that can be negotiated.
There is a thing called “scope creep” in independent contractor / freelancer world where the contract depicts a different or exaggerated scope of works than what had been previously discussed.
If the scope of work is not properly defined in writing, in a contract, then “scope creep” can come into play where slowly but surely the contractor is asked to do more work than they are paid for. The way to manage this is to make sure you have negotiated well and have been very clear in your scope of work section of your contract.
3. Delivery Expectations
The other area you need to feel comfortable negotiating is your delivery times for the work that you are being engaged to do as a contractor or freelancer.
When you work for yourself, delivery times are a big thing because you are managing multiple clients on your own so the reality of your capacity needs to be reflected in the contract. The contract needs to be clear in when works are expected to be delivered and what happens when delays are incurred by the contractor and the client.
4. IP and Content Licensing
Another area of a freelancer’s contract that is open for negotiation, and often forgotten in many contracts, is the agreement for the freelancers to use samples, ideas or work created for the project or client in your own portfolio or marketing materials.
You need to discuss the provisions and transfer of IP with the company hiring you. You can then use your contract to negotiate content licensing.
- Have a contract
- Make it YOUR contract with your own terms of engagement
- Attach your terms of engagement with your quotes
- It’s harder to negotiate on someone else’s contract, easier to adjust or stand-by your own terms.
Remember: The person who produces the contract has the power.