Freelance Standard Project Agreements
Liz Andrade over at CMD+Shift Design has a post about freelancer’s standard terms and policies. When I started freelancing I would pretty much bend over backwards to accomodate some of my first clients. Over the years I came to realize that not only is this not profitable, but it also teaches you to hate your job—fter all isn’t that what you do in a 9-5? I have learned the value of starting projects with a standard project agreement. I use the word agreement mostly because it makes it easy for me to talk about an agreement more than a contract, but I suppose that you can call it what ever you want. The important thing is to have one.
As Liz points out, the most difficult thing about an agreement/contract is not writing it, but sticking to it. There is really no secret on how to do it, you just have to do it. When I am dealing with a large project I make a calendar based on the dates specified in my agreement and always make sure to set reminders for myself a few days before a milestone is due and I use the same calendar to send friendly reminders to the client if something that they are responsible for is due as well.
I don’t use my agreement with clients with whom I have a working relationship with. Instead we agree on due dates and other timelines, but there is always an expectation of when something is due.
Writing a standard agreement can be daunting, but it really doesn’t have to be. If you think about it, all you are doing is simply putting in writing how you are willing to work, what you expect in return for your work and what your client should expect from you. Below is a link to my standard project agreement in .pdf format. Feel free to use it as you set out to write your own. It is always a good idea to have a lawyer look it over though.