If you’re new to freelancing, one of the first things you probably learned was the importance of having a solid service contract. Perhaps a client skipped a payment, or your project was binned after you’d spent weeks working on it. While a freelancing agreement isn’t a guarantee that nothing will go wrong, making sure it contains the right clauses will lower your risk of getting burned. Below are four contract clauses that you shouldn’t freelance without.
The most important part of entering into a freelancing agreement is making sure your rates are clear. Do you charge by the project, or by the hour? Make sure your client is aware of your fees, and put the agreed upon rate in writing. If you charge by the hour, include a clause that entitles you to pay for a minimum number of hours. This way, you’ll get paid a fixed amount even if you finish the work early.
A kill fee clause will ensure you get paid for projects that have been cancelled by the client. Different contractors charge different kill fees, depending on the nature of the business. Some charge as much as a flat 50 percent, while others charge as low as 25 percent. Do what feels right for you — the goal of setting a kill fee is to make sure you’re compensated for the work you’ve done up until a project is axed.
Copyrighting your work protects both you and your clients: you, by avoiding having clients steal your work; and your clients, by verifying that the work is unique. Depending on the type of freelancing work you do, there are various copyright options to consider. Be sure you know which types of copyright are available for your type of work. Freelance writers, for example, can register print rights, first serial rights, electronic rights, and other copyrights. As a freelancer, you own the rights to any material you create until the final payment is received from the client. Once the full payment has been made, full or partial rights to the work are transferred to the client in accordance with your freelancing agreement.
Your contract should spell out when and how you get paid. Consider splitting large projects into smaller instalments to ensure you’ll be able to collect the full fee from your client. It’s also a good idea to factor a grace period into your payment schedule, as some organizations issue payments a month or two after receiving an invoice.
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