That Thing Called Kontrata

It's kinda like hooking up with that hot guy you met at a party. You can tell by his insanely strained shirt that he's got abs of godly steel, but you don't really know if his personality matches that awesomeness.

It's kinda like taking on a dream-come-true project. One that promises an unfathomable amount of pogi points on your portfolio. Sounds perfect, but do you know if your client's enthusiasm to see this project through matches yours?

No on both counts. And this is why you never dive into a commitment unprotected.

For us freelancers, protection means a contract. A contract paints the deal in black and white with no stone left unturned. This is your bible of sorts. That thing you go back to when the waves of the project start getting rough. A 'legal' document that should be respected by both parties involved.

Obviously, items included in this very valuable piece of paperwork vary per job. But here are some of the more crucial fields you need to fill when writing up your contract.

TITLES. Refer to yourself as 'the Freelancer' and to the person you're dealing with as 'the Client'. This may sound inane, but these specifics highlight both your roles in the arrangement. Meaning, you are not the client's employee, and your client is the only one who should give you directions and your paycheck.

SCOPE OF WORK. Sometimes clients have the tendency to ask for your arm when you offer them your hand. Sometimes, they don't even mean to. They just need to be reminded where your work starts and where it ends. Seriously list these requirements down. In detail.

LENGTH OF SERVICE. Okay, admit it. Not all rush projects are really rush projects. You can be asked to pull an overnighter, and then get your first ever feedback 6 months later. This we need to avoid. Make sure you get a solid period when your job is expected to be completed.

EXACT PROFESSIONAL FEE. And I mean, to the dot.

DOWNPAYMENT. Us freelancers can be a little lenient on this just to get the ball rolling, but really, this is crucial. We don't get a regular payday from our clients and we most certainly need to protect our output. You have used your resources to get your initial submission out, managed to kill a few brain cells in the process. That's worth something. A downpayment is usually 50% of your total cost.

BALANCE PAYMENT. This should be elementary but it still needs to be said. You should be paid after you've secured final approval for your work. Not after the product has made X amount of sales. No. Just no.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS. These are the nitty-gritties.
Like, number of revisions you're willing to give your client. This helps your client avoid throwing you empty, piecemeal comments. Plus, it helps you avoid the possibility of revising your work until the day you're old and gray.
Like, miscellaneous fees. How much will you be charging for a cancelled project? How much will you be charging for late payments? How much will you be charging for additional revisions or additional requirements?

CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE. Straight-up critical --especially if you're in the creative business. Your idea, even if it didn't get approved, is your commodity. It's not as tangible as banana cue so anyone can claim it and use it if you don't wrap it in some kind of protective seal. Think of the Confidentiality Clause as an early warning device. Because plagiarism can be so goddamn real.

SIGNATURES. No signed CE, no work. That's the whole point of the contract, ain't it?

Last tip: Be as formal as you can. Your contract will struggle to earn respect with casual lingo and scented stationery.


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