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Paul Maplesden

A contract helps you and your client by creating a mutually agreed set of terms and conditions you will both follow. It helps to ensure that  you deliver work to the right deadlines and quality, and that your client pays you for that work.



A contract is a formal set of terms and conditions agreed to by you and your client.

All freelancers should have a signed contract in place with a client before starting any work. A contract is vital because:

  • It protects both you as a freelancer and your client.
  • It ensures that you are working to the scope and terms agreed to with the client.
  • It covers all the key aspects of the work you will complete.
  • It protects you if there are any disputes.


Although you might think a contract is all about legal language, attorneys, and clauses, putting one together is simple.

  • Step 1 - Find a good contract.
  • Step 2 - Make sure the contract includes everything you need.
  • Step 3 - Review the contract.
  • Step 4 - Send the contract to your client for signing.


Step 1 - Find a good contract

You don’t need to create a contract from scratch. You can find contracts online, either on dedicated freelance websites, through legal and document services, and several other places.

When you’ve got a basic contract, read it through in detail and think about the amendments you want to make.


Step 2 - Make sure the contract includes everything you need

  • You can amend the contract you’ve downloaded before you send it for signing.
  • Go through all the terms in the contract to make sure you’re happy to be bound by them.
  • Make changes to any terms that you need to.
  • Add in any terms to cover work not mentioned in the original document.
  • Areas you will want to include:
  • The name of the freelancer and the client.
  • An outline of the work (the scope).
  • What is out of scope.
  • Fees, deposits, and payment timescales.
  • Deadlines for completion.
  • Roles and responsibilities.
  • Copyright, confidentiality, and indemnification.


Step 3 - Review the contract

Once you’ve made any changes to the contract, read through it again, in detail. Make sure that as a freelancer, you’re happy with everything listed in the contract.

Then, read through it again as a prospective client. Think about how a client would feel about the contract and amend it appropriately.

If there are any areas that are unclear, rewrite them for clarity. Remember that this is a formal agreement that you and your client will be committing to.

Step 4 - Send the contract to your client for signing

Once you’re happy with the contract, you can get it signed by the client. There are several online signing services including:

These services do vary in price and ease of use, but most have free trials so you can try them out before spending anything.

Any clients and freelancers involved in the project should sign the contract.

Once the contract is signed, you can start work.



A good contract protects you and your client. It creates a mutually beneficial agreement for any work you’re going to complete as a freelancer. It’s vital to have a contract in place before you start work so you can ensure you’re both working to a common goal. Taking a little time to set up a contract will help you manage your work more professionally and build trust with your client. 


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Paul Maplesden is a freelance writer, specializing in business, finance, and technology.