Up until now, I have done mostly online writing and some clients I have signed a contract with, where others I haven’t. It depends on what they have required, but the other day I met with a potential client in person. The meeting went great and I did end up landing the job, but it left me thinking about contracts. Are they necessary? If I didn’t have a contract, they weren’t going to provide one, so it was up to me if I wanted the details of our agreement in writing.

After much deliberation, I decided to write one up and send it to my client. What I created was very basic, but I think it helped re-iterate the project we discussed, the timeline, the price and the payment schedule.

This process made me realize that I need to get in the habit of using a contract for my services. For one thing, it is more of a guarantee that I will get paid. Not that I was worried about that with this particular client – I knew them personally, but in the future I may not know every client I work with at the beginning and a contract will help set the expectations of the agreement. I also think that it demonstrates to my clients that I am a business and I am to be taken seriously, I think a contract shows a certain level of professionalism.

The most intimidating thing about actually making the contract was writing it. I know that sounds funny coming from a writer, but I wasn’t sure what to include, what terminology to use and so forth. In the end, I decided to keep it simple and stick with the basic details of the verbal agreement we made. I wasn’t too nervous about sending it to my client, because I knew they would appreciate it and possibly give me feedback, so sent it off and you know what, it was signed and sent back to me the same day.

My contract is a work in progress, I’m sure over time I will add to it and change it to be more official, but I am glad I finally created one. I think it is good practice for every freelancer to use a contract.

Do you use a contract for your clients?