You need to hire a freelancer and you want to get started asap. Once you’ve found the ideal person for your project, why should you ask for a contract?
Not only can freelance contracts help protect you against non delivery or non payment, it can also help to iron out the smaller details of your arrangement and stop them becoming issues later on. Here are some things which should be included in the simplest contract or letter of agreement.
Define the project
What will your freelancer do for you? The more specific you are, the better. If they are writing your blog posts, how many will they do? What will be the average word count? Will they be researching their own keywords for SEO or will you provide them? Will they find their own pictures to go with each post? Not all images are free to use, and if your blogger is finding photos for you this will take up a large chunk of their time.
How many revisions will be included in the project? Some writers have a maximum of 3 revisions before they start charging extra fees, others don’t charge for revisions at all.
Do you want them to share the post on their own social media platforms when it goes live? Who will manage and respond to comments? Any extra responsibilities and costs need to be agreed on before the project starts.
Point of contact
It should be agreed who the writers point of contact will be. Who will have the final decision on changes and revisions? If more than one person is giving the freelancer instructions it can lead to conflicting information, mistakes and confusion.
Set a timeline
This is more than agreeing when the finished work will be delivered. Your writer will need more information from you before they can begin, when will you send this? Will they have to carry out interviews or research? Have an agreed time to send a first draft so that any revisions can be made before the final deadline.
You should also agree on the file format for the work and how revisions and drafts will be sent.
If the project scope changes or there are more revisions needed to the work, this will extend the deadline.
Agreement on payment terms
This section should set out how and when the freelancer will be paid. You may wish to discuss which payment methods are easier for both parties. The payment details will also be on the invoice your freelancer sends you on completion of the work. Freelancers usually set their own payment terms which may be up to 30 days after receipt of the invoice.
Some freelancers also charge a late payment fee, which is a percentage of the fee added to the bill for each day of non payment.
Rights to the work
This part of the contract is to protect both parties against copyright infringement. The writer will agree that all work is theirs and hasn’t been copied from anywhere. Until payment is made, they still own all rights to the work. If payment isn’t made, then they have the right to publish it elsewhere.
After payment is made, the buyer has the right to publish the work. Other points should include whether the writer will be named as the author of the work and whether they can include the work in their portfolio.
Your freelancer may need access to private information about you or your business. A clause to say that they agree not to disclose any of this information will put your mind at rest.
Long term projects
For long term projects it’s essential that your contract defines the relationship of client and freelancer. If they are seen as an employee, you will be liable for extra taxes and costs.
For regular ongoing projects you may wish to add a paragraph about reviewing your contract after 3 months. This gives both parties a chance to raise any issues, review the work so far and make any changes to the scope of your project.
Many writers charge a kill fee for large projects. This is to cover themselves if they’ve put in a lot of work on a project which won’t get published. This is usually a percentage of the total fee.
Another way around this is to spread the fee payment, so the writer is paid after certain stages of the project are completed.
Any changes to the scope of the project or the timeline should be agreed in writing. It doesn’t mean that you have to write a new contract for every change, an email will suffice. If you agree on changes during a phone or skype conversation, send an email afterwards outlining the agreed points.
Most freelancers have their own contracts and will be happy to discuss them with you if you’ve never outsourced work before. If you plan to outsource regularly you may want your solicitor to draft a contract for your company.