Updated: Oct 28
When you're a freelancer, getting caught up in the excitement of landing your first gig is easy. But what happens if things go south once you've signed the dotted line and started working on the project? You want an agreement that protects your interests as well as those of your client. That's why it's a good idea to include certain payment terms in your contract (and client agreements are just contracts!). Here are 10 important payment terms that should be part of every freelancer's contract:
Scope of work
It's important that your agreement with the client clearly outlines what is expected of you and what they are obligated to provide in return. By defining the scope of work and setting expectations, you can avoid any confusion or strife down the line. Here are some key points to include in your scope of work:
What exactly will be done? For someone else to do something for you, it's important that they know exactly what that entails. To specify which tasks or deliverables are expected from them—and how much time and resources these assignments will require.
Why does it need doing? You should also outline why each task needs to be completed and what impact those completed tasks will have on both parties involved (i.e., their business goals). This way, both parties know why it's important for these tasks to get done in the first place!
Deadlines are another extremely important part of your contract. They should be realistic and consistent with other deadlines in the contract, such as when a draft or a full manuscript is due.
Suppose you're working with writers who are submitting multiple pieces over time. In that case, it can be helpful to have an overall deadline and then break down each deadline into smaller sections (e.g., "Final Draft by MONDAY, March 1st!").
This information shouldn't just be given to you: it should also be included on both sides of your agreement so that everyone involved knows what's expected.
Deadlines should also be written in words rather than numbers; we want everything to be clear about when things have or have not been completed on time!
You might be wondering why having a payment plan in your contract is important. Well, for starters, you risk not being paid when you don't have one in place. Suppose a client defaults on their payment obligations. In that case, you may never see any money from them even though that project took up hours of your time and energy.
If the client does pay on time or even early and without complaint, great! You can use those funds to cover other expenses associated with running your business. But if they don't pay as promised—and this happens more often than we would like—the lack of clarity could lead to significant financial problems for both parties.
If a deadline is missed, you should charge a late fee. This is reasonable if it's for a reasonable amount of time or money. Suppose a client asks for something that would take you an unreasonable amount of time to accomplish. In that case, completing the task is probably not worth your effort and energy.
If someone misses their deadline by 30 minutes, but their project still needs major edits and revisions before it can be published—or even released as an advertisement on social media—then they're going to need more than 30 minutes to make all those changes! Charge accordingly with this client by raising your price to reflect the extra work involved in getting them back on track.
Cancelation fee/Stopping work
Cancelation fee/Stopping work: You may be asked to agree to a specific cancellation fee, or you may want to include a provision allowing you to stop work on the project if payment is not made. For example, if you are hired at $50 per hour but don't receive your first payment until 30 days later, you could charge an additional $50 as a cancellation fee if they decide they do not want your services anymore.
Terms of payment
You should always have your payment terms in writing. It can be a part of the contract or a separate document. Either way, you must make sure that both parties agree to them before any work begins. If there is clarity about what these terms are, it could lead to problems later on.
You should also make sure that the payment terms are fair for both parties involved (you and your client). This means that one party won't have more power than the other when it comes time to settle up accounts on projects—this will help ensure that both parties leave feeling like they got what they deserved out of their deal with each other.
In addition to being fair, you should make sure your payment terms are clear and easy to understand by everyone involved in this process: yourself as well as whoever is paying you for services rendered.*
Finally, we want our goals here at [your company name]! So I hope these tips give us all an idea of how we can work together better going forward!
What happens if half the project is complete?
If you are unhappy with the work and have made it clear to your freelancer, then they will stop working on the project. Make sure that your freelancer is aware of this before starting any work.
If you are happy with the work that has been done and wish them to continue, then you can pay them for what has already been completed.
How many edits are allowed?
Please specify how many edits are allowed. If you don't, you run the risk of your client asking for countless revisions. Do you know what happens then? You end up eating through an already-strict budget and don't get paid as much as you should because it takes too long to produce the work—or worse, you lose money on every hour spent editing.
If your client needs more than one round of revisions, be sure they pay for each one individually before moving forward with the next round. It is also good practice to ensure they give reasonable feedback after each revision so that the time spent may be minimized in future projects.
Intellectual property rights for the finalized work
The definition of intellectual property can be tricky, but it basically refers to any kind of intangible asset created by a person. These assets include things like patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. When an employer hires you for freelance work using these assets, your contract should clearly state that you own the rights to all materials made during your employment unless otherwise specified. This way, there is clarity as to who owns which part of the project at hand!
This also applies if you are working with someone else's intellectual property—in this case, it's critical that they have already secured their own legal rights before hiring you as a contractor. For example: If one client hires another company to design their logo and someone from that company hires YOU as an independent contractor without securing IP first...they could lose all rights over it simply by doing so (which means YOU would lose out too!).
Dispute resolution policy.
This section should detail how you will handle any disputes that may arise between you and your client. It's important to have this in place because you never know what might happen during the course of a project, but if every party knows exactly what to expect when there is a dispute, it makes things much easier for everyone involved. Some questions that should be addressed include:
How will disputes be handled?
Who has authority over the dispute?
What factors will be considered in deciding the outcome?
What happens next?
The best way to avoid disputes altogether is by clearly communicating with your client throughout their project so they understand exactly what they're getting when they hire you.
Be sure to include all your important payment terms in your contract.
Scope of work
Deadlines and milestones
Late fees, cancellation fee/stopping work, and terms of payment (what happens if half the project is complete?)
If you're an established freelancer who has been in business for a while, you may have a set rate for different types of projects. If you don't have rates on your website or in your contract yet—and if it's not something clients should expect from all your offers—it may be good to use this opportunity to establish what those are when first starting out.
We hope you found these tips helpful and that they'll help you build stronger relationships with clients. Remember, there are always going to be situations where things don't go as planned, but by having a solid contract in place, you and your client will be prepared for anything.