Do you write Contracts?

For anyone running a small business or doing formal freelance work, do you write business contracts with your clients?

After losing my job, I picked up one paying customer and because he is the exception to the rule, we just worked on a “gentleman’s handshake”.

However, moving forward I am thinking this could get me into trouble with difficult clients.

Any advice for someone who is not a contract specialist or attorney and who has no budget (i.e. I have to do this myself).


moving forward I am thinking this could get me into trouble with difficult clients.

It will. This has happened with me - the trust, and then a breaking of it. I’m still struggling myself to find a good solution - and still operating largely on trust… There are contract templates out there, but of course they’re maybe not legally worded how they need to be. It’s either that or spend a lot of time on it ourselves, as far as I can tell.

My take is that a Court does consider a verbal contract a contract
- BUT - unless there are witnesses it will be your word against theirs
not the strongest case

If on the other hand you have a signed agreement, even if legally flawed, it is one more “point” in your favor.

And save all your “stuff”. Courts like to see evidence


I was sort of thinking along those lines.

Create a simple document that says…

Mikey and ACME, Inc enter into a contract on June 23, 2015.

Mikey agrees to build a website with the following features ________

ACME, Inc agree to pay $______ upon delivery.

Does anyone know the “parts” of a contract and what you typically need to have in one in order for their to be a contract?

I would definitely clearly itemize exactly what will go into the job, and what will not, so that you don’t become a victim of scope creep, and maybe a timeline.

Also include a clause that says that once the client has signed off on the finished product, you are not responsible for what happens to the website after he takes ownership of it.

Also clearly outline copyright issues - ie the client has copyrights to the design but not the code, he is responsible to make sure that any images or other assets that he provides you are owned by him and not subject to someone else’s copyright, etc.

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If you’re getting paid by milestone or at project end, make sure you specify how many rounds of revisions, material they need to provide you, ownership of any accounts (registrar, hosting, etc), time frames for both you and client, when exactly payment occurs and in what form, etc… any of those items that are applicable to you.

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Whilst the contract is at a slightly higher level than I work, I regularly put together proposals that describe what is to be done as a technical solution, and the management of its delivery. One thing that we work with, is something called DAREO.

D = Dependencies, or what is your client obliged to provide to you to allow the project to go ahead

A = Or the Assumptions have you made in defining the solution - don’t make assumptions about what you have under your control, find out!

R = Risks, what might go wrong, and what is you plan for handling them

E = Exceptions, what you are not going top do - should dovetail with your dependencies and assumptions

O = Opportunities that could arise to both you and your clients benefit - these may be things that the customer might not have asked for, but with a little added investment, could deliver a much better result

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Having a solid contract helps a lot with providing proof of work and even broadening a client base. Non-compete clauses may be a main part of a contract that will benefit both parties if they can agree on rules for how a freelancer can add clients while working for an existing one. Without a contract, lots of freelancers will naturally want to pursue work opportunities where the original client may feel like that person is stepping on their toes. Getting all of these items out in the open will help to avoid a wide range of issues later on, and that’s part of the value of a solid written contract.

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