Handling the legal side of freelancing might be one of the most frustrating tasks you may encounter. No matter what your practice, be it web design to freelance writing, there is generally some form of legal contract you’ll need to create with your clients. Below are some great tips to get you on the right path doing freelance work.
Always Set a Time Frame
Having a scheduled calendar is just another strong framework keeping you from drifting too far off task. An agreeable schedule of dates is something both parties should be able to look at and consider a reasonable amount of time for each task.
It may also be useful to set up meetings and share information face-to-face. The amount of meetings would vary based on the type of project you are working on. A website from scratch may require a few meetings on a weekly basis, while designing a few icons may not require a meeting at all. Keep your schedule open and ready for anything, but once you’ve got a project deadline make sure it’s set in stone.
Always Prepare a Contract
This one was quite difficult for myself as well. I had no experience in preparing a contract whatsoever, however after doing some research online I was able to create myself a template.
Why are contracts so important? This question has been asked countless times and there really isn’t a specific answer. Business has always been a tough game. However, having a contract prepared for your client to sign, removes some of that toughness from the game, as you are setting some game rules to be followed. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case, as you may encounter clients who will give you a hard time even with contracts signed.
Make sure you include every single aspect of your project, starting from company name, the date, the timeframe for the project, and most importantly payment conditions.
One of the biggest pet peeves in web design freelancing today is that the client assumes he’s running the show. I’m sure it has happened numerous times where you encounter a client requesting a mockup website to be designed. However, once you complete the mockup, the number of changes will give you a completely different mockup from the initial request.
Not only is this very frustrating but, it is also very time consuming and will definitely throw off the initial times you had scheduled for the project. Therefore, it is important to include a policy regarding revisions and work updates. I usually like to include a few revisions free of charge, because changes will always happen, and charge by the hour after the free revisions are up.
The Final Product
In the crazy world of web design it is often possible for confusion to settle when it comes towards a finished product. It should be discussed before even starting the project what is expected to be delivered as a final result. This could include multiple things, however for a general website design it’s often only a handful of graphics and coded HTML/CSS documents.
If your client is looking for something slightly more convoluted such as WordPress theming or plugin development include a few sentences referencing the types of files to be shared. These could be .css, .php, .js libraries, or anything else which may be included inside the projects’ files.
These tips on legal writing should get you pointed in the right direction. The career path of a freelance web designer is not easy, especially entering into business for yourself. There are plenty of tools to help out with invoicing and paper trails, so make use of these whenever possible.
If you’re just getting started I’d also recommend building up a small network of clients to get some buzz going around your name. At the end of the day legal structures are all about protecting both parties of a freelance project to ensure they will deliver their regards on-time and respectably.