ADVICE / 14
over the past few weeks we’ve been telling you how important a contract is when you are a freelancer. but i know some of you are like, “yeah yeah we get it. but what do i SAY in my contract?!” the answer is pretty long, but all of the points are super important…
my contracts begin with stating who the client is and who i am. i describe what the job is and details of all the deliverables i’m responsible for. depending on the project i also include a timeline for concept, sketches, design rounds, final delivery of files, and dates for the clients feedback in between. then i include the fee or hourly rate i’m charging for that project. i discuss how many rounds they get for revisions and what it will cost if they need more revisions after the allotted amount.
after that i write about what happens if the client changes their mind half way through the project or doesn’t want to finish. if i’m charging a flat fee i list a kill fee for major steps in the process (ex: design round 2 – 80% of the fee). if i’m charging hourly i bill them for all the hours i worked. you can set up a payment plan whereyou get paid every 50 hours put in or if it’s a long ongoing project you can get paid every two weeks or a big sum at the end. i usually like a half way point payment and a final payment.
at the end i state what the usage rights are for the creative i’m providing. it could be a spot illustration that is only for a magazine article, or it could be a pattern blown out on multiple ways in print and digital forms. make sure to include a section about this and type out what exactly the artwork is getting used for. you’ll kick yourself when you see the client use your design in ways that you hadn’t discussed. it probably doesn’t look good because you didn’t design it for that purpose and they didn’t pay for the rights to it. you’ll be pissed. i’m speaking from experience. also include a statement about how the creative can not be used in any other form unless discussed and approved by you, the designer.
once both parties agree on the contract we sign, date and then i start working.
having a contract really helps guide the client and myself through the project process. it keeps us on track and is always a good reference if they are any hiccups along the way. it’s also good to run your contracts by a lawyer to make sure everything is buttoned up and you’re protected. it might not be affordable in the beginning but it’s important to budget that out. you contract can be straight forward, you can mix humor into it and/or design it to match your branding. you set the tone. you’re in control.