As a freelancer, you’re basically running your own mini business. You are everyone — the service provider, the accountant, the sales rep, the marketer and the in-house legal team.
Why Did You Get Into Freelancing?
Was it about flexibility? Work-life balance? Or just having more time to pursue your favourite creative or other passions?
Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t because you wanted to deal with business legals (unless you’re a freelance lawyer!).
But that doesn’t mean that the legal stuff isn’t important. In fact, it’s often more important than you originally thought — not just for protecting yourself, but also for building trust and having clear expectations with your customers.
The main legal document you need in place with your customers is a Freelancer Agreement. It’s also sometimes known as a Service Agreement, Business T&Cs or another instrusty-specific name. At the end of the day, it’s a contract between you, as the freelancer, and your customers.
What’s In A Freelancer Agreement?
A Freelancer Agreement is a legal contract that sets out the terms and conditions for how your customers agree to use your freelance services.
The details of what’s included in a Freelancer Agreement really depend on what services you’re offering.
However, they normally set out both commercial and legal matters. Commercial matters include things like payments, deadlines and deliverables, while the legal stuff might include intellectual property ownership, confidentiality and limitations of liability.
Typical clauses include:
- Scope of services: What services will the freelancer provide? What exactly is included and what is excluded?
- Liability protections: Who is responsible if things go wrong?
- Intellectual property ownership: Who owns the intellectual property in the final deliverable? And who owns all the IP used before and after the project?
- Payment and late payment: How much will the freelancer get paid? How will they get paid? And what happens if the client doesn’t pay or pays late?
- Confidentiality: Is there anything that needs to be kept confidential between the parties?
- Term and termination: How long does the contract go for? How do you get out of it?
Having these things set out in writing and agreed upon from the start can save huge headaches and disputes in the future.
Freelancer Agreement Example
Cindy is a freelance graphic designer. Cindy has one client, Harry, who gives her a lot of business but can be very demanding. One one occasion, Harry engaged Cindy to design a new brochure for his company. The brief included one brochure design, and Cindy sent the design to Harry on time along with her invoice for payment. Harry insisted that the brief included two designs and refused to pay Cindy for the work.
Luckily, before each job, Cindy gets her clients to sign her Freelancer Agreement, which has a front page setting out the timing, price and deliverables, with standard terms and conditions attached behind.
Cindy got on the phone with Harry and explained that the contract he signed only included one design in the scope, and the payment was for the one design. This was clearly set out on the front page of the agreement. On re-reading the contract, Harry agreed to pay for the design and enter into a new contract for the second design.
Without this formal confirmation in writing, there is a huge risk of misunderstanding between freelancers and clients, and it’s often the freelancer who loses. With a legal contract that both sides agree to at the start of a job, the freelancer can feel confident to stand up for themselves without having to damage their relationships with their customers.
Need Help With A Freelancer Agreement?
Having a properly drafted Freelancer Agreement is really important — it helps set your expectations with your clients, secures your payments, and protects your intellectual property and other legal risks. However, if you don’t have legal experience, it can be hard to know whether you’ve got it right.
Having a lawyer help you draft a legally sound Freelancer Agreement will give you clarity around your engagement. It’ll also relieve you from the stresses associated with the legal side of the business so you can focus on what you love to do!
At Sprintlaw, we have a team of experienced lawyers who can assist you with drafting a Freelancer Agreement. Get in contact with one of our consultants for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you put together a Freelancer Agreement and assist with any other legal issues your business may have.
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