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How A Contract Can Save Your Butt


If you freelance for long enough, you will likely find yourself working with a difficult client or on a project that does not go smoothly. Contracts and insurance can help you to avoid or manage major issues that can crop up as a result of this. Here are some common problems you might face, and the solutions that With Jack suggests. 

Project scope:

  • Sometimes, the goalposts of what is expected of a job can change. As a freelancer, you may then revise your invoice to move your fee in line with the new work. At this point, the client may become unhappy with the change in fee.
  • A solution is to ensure there is a clause in your contract that outlines exactly what will happen if the project scope changes - aka, your fee may be revised or amended. This means both parties understand this from the start.
  • Another solution is to include a clause that allows you to reject any revisions to the project which substantially changes the scope of the initial brief.
  • When scoping a project, be as explicit as possible with your project scope. Remove all ambiguity to ensure that the client can not misinterpret anything.

Clients ghosting:

  • Mid-project, clients may disappear or drag their heels with providing you the deliverables needed to continue the work. 
  • You can encourage clients to keep on track by including a ‘pause clause’ in your contract. This means that if a client is late in providing a deliverable - including payment - you are entitled to put the project on pause after a specific time has lapsed. When you receive the deliverable, your project can then resume but would be re-scheduled based on your current workload and availability.
  • This acts as an incentive for a client to keep on track.
  • In the case that a client has decided they want to stop working with you altogether, this ‘pause-clause’ can stop you from wasting time on projects that are no longer worth it. 

Unhappy working with a client:

  • You may begin to be unhappy working with a client and be looking for an ethical way to end the relationship.
  • As a result of ending a project, a client may say that you have caused them a loss of revenue, or that they need to hire another freelancer and therefore ask you to cover the costs.
  • A solution is to include a termination clause in your contract - very few people have this. At the base minimum, outline how much time you will give a client to end the contract. On top of this, outline who is responsible for payments and re-hiring.
  • You may also wish to include a ‘kill fee’ - a fee that you will charge at a minimum if the project is canceled or ‘killed’.
  • Another solution is to include a clause that outlines your payments as non-refundable, even if a client doesn’t use your work.

Honorable mentions:

  • Understand how your contract is governed by your own localised law, and how that may work with an international client.
  • Contracts outline duties expected from parties - but insurance steps into action when contracts come into question. It can help you bring in a solicitor or cover charges which may be incurred.
  • Establish how long you are going to retain client information. Put a responsibility on the client to look after the work once you have completed it.
  • Remember - none of this matters if you don’t have the conviction to stand by these clauses.
  • Be a confident freelancer - having a contract and insurance gives you the power.