Recently we talked about seven crucial things you have to include in your contract. Things so important that if you don’t, you might as well not have a contract at all. Just sayin’.
Now, we’re flipping that topic on its head and talking about six things you didn’t know you could really include in your contract. They may be things you were afraid to ask for, were unsure whether or not they were legal, or just plain didn’t know about them. Let’s dive in!
You work, you get paid. Or, at least that’s how it usually goes.
But you can actually get paid upfront, as in before you start any work, if it works for your clients and your biz. It’s also called prepayment, since you’re getting paid before your customer/client/buyer receives your product or service.
Upfront payments can be:
You’ll see percentage-based payments and flat-rate payments often used for non-refundable deposits and retainers.
When you ask for upfront payments can vary, too. You can ask when they book your services, after ordering your product but before you create it, after an initial meeting — it’s up to you. As long as you put the conditions of your upfront payments in your contract, you’re golden!
It feels like we talk about including late fees in your contracts all the time but honestly, we just want you to get paid for your hard work! You can and should include information about late fees in your contract to protect yourself from getting ghosted, or paid late all the time.
Again, it’s up to you how you want your late fees to work. You can charge a flat fee or charge a percentage (which is typically 1% per month in interest). Remember to include when a payment is considered late, too (like one week after the due date, for example).
We know a lot of brands that give their clients a break the first time they’re late. We’re all human and things happen. You want to enforce your contract, but you also want to provide excellent service to your clients. So, use good judgment when enforcing your payment terms.
When can you cancel a project or order for a client? Whenever you don’t want to work with them anymore because of client bad behavior.
Client bad behavior can look like:
You do have the power to cancel with your client. That’s what your contract is for: to help you out of a jam if a nightmare client has breached your contract. Your cancellation terms protect you if a client wants to cancel on you, too.
Check that your cancellation terms include:
Make sure you include cancellation clauses in your contract! If you don’t, you’ll have to negotiate on the fly, which can be a disaster if hurt feelings and bad communication are involved.
Imagine that a flaky client goes MIA and comes back, only to disappear again. You’re tired of not knowing when they’ll be available and accommodating their flakiness in your schedule.
With additional start-up fee terms in your contract, you don’thaveto accommodate ‘em. You can take your flaky client off your schedule and pause any work you’re doing for or with them. That frees up your time to work with other clients or on other projects that you’re actually getting paid for (or want to do).
And when they come back upset that you essentially gave away their spot? They’ll have to pay that start-up fee to work with you again — as long as you have additional start-up fees included in your contract.
We think refund policies are a useful thing to have, but not every business needs one. You don’t have to offer refunds. All you have to do is make sure that a no-refund policy is stated in your contract! And it helps to include it on your website and FAQ, too.
So far we’ve covered a lot of information that’ll protect you from client bad behavior, but this last one is more about you.
We hope you’re already taking customer privacy seriously by making your website legally compliant. But did you know you also need to have your client's permission in order to share their project in your portfolio or screenshots on social media? Yes, even if you’re sharing a happy comment they left in a Google Doc!
Getting their permission first is just good business practice and respectful of your client’s privacy. Once you have their permission, you can flaunt those rave reviews and positive testimonials to bring in even more business.
To recap, you can include these terms in your contracts:
Do you feel more confident knowing you can include these terms in your contract? Good! That’s what we aim for.
And if you’re starting from scratch and don’t have a contract for your business yet, we can help. Find the perfect contract template for your biz in our shop today!
Kevin Gallagher is the CEO of The Contract Shop®, a contract template store for creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, coaches, and more. His background is in helping online businesses grow, having previously worked at Allbirds managing part of their operations. He is proud to report that his digital artist wife Mandy is a happy customer of The Contract Shop®, and his main motivation is to help as many people like her as possible with the tools that they need to confidently manage their businesses.
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