It's been awhile since I posted on my blog. I had the flu twice and then caught a cold and was buried in a challenging book editing project. No excuses though! I'm back to blogging on a regular basis so stay tuned!
One of the biggest questions I get from newbie solopreneurs and freelance writers is about contracts. I pride myself on being very specific with my proposals and contracts, but I still work with clients who don't have experience "reading and understanding" the fine print of a basic contract. I've learned a few lessons recently about being VERY clear and specific with clients when they agree to project parameters, deadlines, etc.
Here are some personal tips I want to pass along if you create a contract OR if you're on the other side and need to sign a contract. Please note: I am NOT a lawyer and the tips below are based on my own personal experiences as a freelance copywriter who works on contract with my clients. Always check with a professional attorney for legal assistance before signing a legal contract.
1. If you plan to work with a contractor or a contracted company/agency, ALWAYS sign a contractual agreement. Depending upon the scope of the project, most contractual (work-for-hire) agreements are fairly basic. However, if the language sounds like mumbo-jumbo hire a lawyer to review the contract before you sign anything.
2. Make sure deadlines, your rates, and the scope of the project are crystal clear before you sign on the dotted line. I ran into some issues with deadlines with this last project which was very frustrating on my end. Also, don't assume the other person understands the terms of your agreement. Run through the proposal with them and make sure they understand ALL the details, payment structure (especially if it's a long-term/extended contract), and your project responsibilities. This will save you a lot of hassle and legal trouble down the road.
3. If the other contracted party does NOT follow through on their agreed upon responsibilities and duties, you may have just cause to terminate the contract. If you run into issues with a client (or the contractor) and they fail to do what they agreed to do, you may be able to terminate the contract. Make sure to include a rescission clause (aka termination for convenience clause) that allows the contract to be ended. The rescinding party has to compensate the other party for work already completed. However, check with a lawyer before you terminate a contract, especially if you aren't sure. You usually need to have a justifiable reason for ending a contract. For example, if the products or services aren't delivered according to the agreed upon contractual parameters, or the contracting party delivers shoddy products or gives you poor service.
The Scoop on Non-Disclosure Agreements
As a copywriter and editor, I've signed a few of these agreements throughout my career. A non-disclosure agreement is also known as a confidentiality agreement. Basically, you agree not to share any proprietary information or trade/company secrets and if you do, you could be in hot water. If you aren't sure about signing a non-disclosure agreement, check with a lawyer.
Just be very careful when signing a contract. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of scammer companies out there who might be trying to make a quick buck off you so just be wary and do your research. Ask for references and testimonials before you hire the contractor or work with the company. When in doubt, hire a lawyer to review the contract before signing.