A Continuing Education in Drawing Up Contracts

iStock_000004854876_ExtraSmallThings I Am Good At:

Writing about sex.

Banging out listicles.

Line editing.

Connecting with other writers and editors.

Making lemon pound cake.

Singing in the shower.

Mimicking the sounds my cats make.

Things I Am Not Good At:

Covering my ass when I draw up and/or sign a contract.

I’ve been a full-time freelancer for about five and a half years now, yet with every new client I take on, I learn of yet another new clause I should have included in our contract.

For example, in drawing up a description of the project scope, I’ve learned to include hard-and-fast dates for when things are due — on both ends. I’ve learned to ask for a portion of my project fee up-front, and also to lay out a payment plan that gets me moolah at different stages of a project. I’ve learned to start including mention of a late fee in my contract… and to also reiterate this on my invoices (because invoices often go through an accounting department that may not be familiar with all the terms of the initial contract). I’ve learned to add in wording that wards off scope creep without an addendum to the original contract. I’ve learned to include a section that allows either myself or my client to terminate the contract if the other side doesn’t deliver (and, in one case, was relieved to be able to use it).

In fact, I thought I’d covered everything I possibly could until this past week, when a delinquent client tried to convince me that he shouldn’t have to pay me the full fee we’d agreed upon. [Read more…]