7 Important Clauses to Include in your Freelance Contract

Clauses in a contract: Even the sound of the previous phrase scares some. However, freelancers need to remember that these clauses work both ways. Not only are they going to benefit your client and ensure they get work on time, but also ensure that you get paid exactly what you agree on—and that too, on time.

I’ll admit, I was never a huge fan of contracts either when I started out as a freelancer. However, that one sneaky, sleazy client turned that around completely. Now, I can’t agree to work on any assignment without a contract. Truth be told, contracts are just the way to go when you’ve decided to become a professional, full-time freelancer.

Don’t already have one? No worries, you don’t need a lawyer to draft one. Just make sure you include these clauses while considering a new assignment or revising a contract that already exists. Don’t forget to include the following:

Pricing or Rate

Clearly, pricing is the most important component of a contract. Many first-timers run into problems with clients because they feel they haven’t been paid enough. Furthermore, a client may complain that a freelancer took too long to complete an assignment and that charging per hour cost them too much.

Negotiating the rates may take some time, but whatever you agree on should be on paper. For example, if you will charge by the hour, include a clause such as, “X assignment won’t take less than 4 hours or more than 6 hours to complete”. That way no one is to blame for charging too much or paying too less.

Method of Payment

Invoicing is another big deal. How do you want to be paid? Do you prefer a small down payment? Or at least a 50% payment at the start of the project? Many freelancers work with three installments with a 40% upfront payment. This may vary depending on the value of your project and what you are promising to send before each installment.

Also, mention whether you prefer invoicing using PayPal or wire transfer. Always include a “grace period” for these payments, because clients may take unnecessary time paying your dues—and no freelancer wants that. Under these circumstances you may also include a “late fee” charge after the grace period is over.

Kill Fees

Including a kill fee clause is quite common when you’re working as a designer or a developer. A client may suddenly decide to cancel the project. This becomes problematic for freelancers who may have spent an enormous amount of time working on that project without receiving any payment. The kill fee clause will ensure that you get paid for the amount of time you have worked, despite the cancellation.

Scope of Work

This clause is just as important as including price rate. The scope of work defines what you will be doing for your client, when you will be doing it, and perhaps even how. So, it basically covers exactly what you’ll be offering to your client in a given timeline. Try to be as descriptive as possible when writing these clauses.


Claiming ownership of your project wouldn’t be easy afterward, which is why it’s crucial to make this clear upfront.  Many clients prefer to retain ownership of the project and if you’re in the creative or technical field, you’re not going to like it at all. Nevertheless, professional designers and developers ensure that a credit line is mentioned at the very least. Plenty of developers and photographers may even mention how the files can be used.

A Warranty

Warranties highlight the expectation your client should have about your work. Usually, warranties ensure that your client will receive quality services with specific clauses that state how you will provide your services, how many revisions you will consider, whether or not you will provide support services, and any “bug fixes” you will allow later on. To err on the side of caution and prevent the client from exploiting it, make sure your warranty has time limit and is quite specific.


A client may prevent you from working for other client during the course of the project. Many freelancers also include this under the “independent contractor” clause which states that you are not an employee of the organization and have control over the way you work. The non-exclusivity clause prevents your client from disallowing you to work on other projects for other clients during the term of your contract.

Make sure you are in agreement about these clauses before your write them down. Have your client go over the details and reiterate them through if you want to ensure that your client hasn’t simply agreed without reading the fine print. Remember that the above clauses aren’t all-encompassing and you may require more protection of your rights. For high-paying, high-risk projects, it’s usually best to consult an attorney for legal advice.

Learn More: Essential Tools For Freelancers To Organize Work

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