Freelance Contact

I have been reading the stickies and I find a lot of usefull information there. I am trying to make a contract for my website design services, and I am having a problem getting everything organized.

Is anyone here a freelance developer/programmer? Do you have a sample contract I can see? I would like to see one that is completely put together, so that I can get an idea of what it looks like, the formatting, and what it all includes.

I’m using this website ( but I’m still having a hard time getting everything organized. Also, I’m not sure how old this website is, but it looks really old.

Mostly because they are talking about the Internet being brand new, only a few years old.

Here are a few good resources I found for web design contract templates:

5 Free to Use Freelance Design Contract Templates

Good Contract for Web Designers

Good luck!

How do I get them to sign my contract? Clearly, most of my customers would be from all over the country and I wouldn’t be able to meet them personally. So how can I legally have them sign a contract?

That might depend on the country I guess? And if you want to be 100% sure, you’d better talk to your lawyer about it, and let him check the contract you’ve put together.

I don’t really have a contract that I designed. I just was using some sample contracts from online. There are no laywers around here that know anything about website design so they refuse to help me and even if they did want to help, I can’t

How to Get Signatures
In terms of how to get your contract signed, I have clients all over the United States (actually none of them are local to me) and we handle all contracts by email and/or fax. Digital and faxed signatures have the same authority as an actual paper document, and I’ve never had a problem. Fill out your contract template and send to your client as a PDF file via email, and ask them to sign and either scan/email it back or fax it back to you. Once you have their signature, sign your name and then send them a copy for their files with both signatures.

If you want to go all-digital, you might look at a service like or that will handle electronic signatures. I haven’t used either of these services personally, but I’ve heard good things about both. is a relatively new company, but EchoSign has been around quite a while and supports many Fortune 500 companies.

Enforcing Your Contract
Contract enforcement (whether it’s in your own country or elsewhere) is a bit of a different animal. If you ever have a dispute with a client, in all likelihood it won’t be worth the time, money and resources to take legal action against them. A contract also won’t prevent a client from suing you, and likewise it won’t prevent you from getting stiffed by the client. While this might sound scary, having a contract in place can help prevent misunderstandings (or mis-remembering) and will give you options about what to do if things go awry.

A good contract will spell out terms clearly so you and your client both know what you’re getting in to – mostly who will do what and when, and what will happen if one of you fails to do their part. At the end of the day though, a contract is just a document and your client relationships must be built on trust and good communication.

Getting a Lawyer to Review Your Contract
I’m not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on TV. :lol: I would keep looking for an attorney to provide business guidance over the long-term, but that doesn’t need to stop you from getting started or doing business now. You don’t necessarily need an attorney who knows about web design either. Any general business attorney should be able to cover the basics for a freelance design/development business. If you want to get fancy, look for an attorney who specializes in technology or intellectual property issues.

You can also get some legal help even without shelling out the big bucks for an attorney. You can contact SCORE for free business counseling with a mentor. SCORE mentors offer free advice to small businesses and you can find someone near you at for support either in-person or by email. Actually it doesn’t necessarily need to be someone near you either; any mentor or attorney in your state should be able to help. A SCORE mentor won’t be able to provide “official” legal advice, but he/she can give you some piece of mind by reviewing your contract template to see if there are any obvious issues or areas that you might have missed.

Go Get Some Clients!
Honestly, I would do the best you can with a contract template, get extra advice where you think you need it, then stop worrying about it and go get some clients. While I would never advocate doing business without a contract (or without getting a deposit first), if you treat your clients fairly and honestly it’s unlikely that you’ll ever run into any insurmountable legal issues related to contracts.

Good luck!

I use They have many different contracts for web developers. I find it very much worth the small investment.

Is there anything similar to this for the UK, as im sure there are going to be differences in the UK law!!!

The way I handle this is to write them a letter that sets out my terms and conditions; this also contains the cost and time estimates for the job. At the end of the letter, I say something like this:

“If you decide to go ahead with this work, please send me your written confirmation that you accept the terms set out in this letter. This letter, and your confirmation of it, will then form the basis of the contract between our two companies.”

In other words, I don’t insist on a formal contract. A simple exchange of letters is just as effective.

I’m sorry, I know that this question was posted a while ago, but I only just saw it. Also, my own approach works well for me, but might not be applicable for everyone else.


Your approach works for you, but have you ever had a dispute or needed to enforce it? All contracts work until there is a problem :slight_smile:

No, I haven’t.

But that doesn’t mean that my approach will work for everyone. In my work, I have a close working relationship with my clients. I would rather do an exchange of personal letters, rather than a formal contract, and definitely rather than a third-party system of some kind. And when things do start to go wrong, I would rather try to solve it with a friendly round-the-table discussion than any legal actions.

But every business is different. My approach has worked well in the 40-odd years I’ve been in business, but I’m not saying it is the only valid approach.


Perhaps, but really what you describe is the lack of need for an agreement, rather than what is the ‘best contract’. If you have clients who you trust will never put you into a dispute situation, then of course you won’t need a legal agreement. But that is very rare, I think. Contractual issues are nonstop and it’s a generally accepted best practice to have a legal agreement signed between parties. If there is a real dispute, a friendly round-the-table discussion won’t work in most cases.

It’s like someone saying, 'I am concerned about being robbed. What is the best lock for my front door?" and answering “I live in a safe neighborhood so we don’t lock the door”.

No, I’m not saying that at all. If that’s the impression I gave, it certainly wasn’t what I intended.

You definitely do need a contract. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t have to a formal document. An exchange of letters can (in some cases) work just as well. Of course, the letters have to spell out the contractual terms in clear, precise language. But it can be done in a friendly, personal way, rather than in “legalese”.

And I’m not saying that I’m assuming I will never be in dispute with a client. That’s why it’s important to have the agreement clearly written and understood by both parties. I’m sure we agree on that point.

But I do stress that this will vary from case to case. My approach has worked well for me, but I’m not saying it’s the only way of doing things.


Well, the idea of ‘legalese’ is sort of a figment of the imagination to people who find legal language daunting. Any good lawyer (and most bad ones) will try to use plain-english language rather than some kind of cryptic and esoteric language. The reason is simple - one of the most important parts of a binding contract is that the two parties have a meeting of the minds with regards to the terms, and using plain english helps to ensure mutual understanding.

The problem is that your preference for email/letters in plain English is fine, but that’s not the same as the recommended best practice which is to use a good legal contract that adequately covers the various risks associated with the agreement, defines resolution steps, and will govern the matter in the event of a transaction.

Your comment about preferring to have round-the-table discussions to resolve disputes using legal procedures suggests that you haven’t been faced with a difficult dispute, but in such cases it doesn’t really matter what your preference is - it’s a dispute where the parties aren’t working together well enough for that to happen and in many cases you have no choice to go into arbitration or to court.

Your casual email ‘letters’ do indicate whether you go to court or through arbitration, don’t they? Casual is nice, but a well written, easy to understand, and fair agreement that is executed like a regular contract (rather than just an ‘i agree’ over email) is still the gold standard for small business.