6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Put In Your Contract

6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Put In Your Contract

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!

Upfront payments

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:

  • Complete payments, or 100% of the total bill upfront
  • Percentage-based, such as 20% of the total bill 
  • Flat-rate payments, like $2,000 

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!

Late fees

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:

  • Ghosting you completely
  • Being late or not showing up at all for meetings
  • Emailing, calling, or texting you 24/7 (i.e.,  ignoring your boundaries around communication)
  • Not following your processes for reviewing or approving work
  • Not paying on time
  • And lots more, but we’ll stop here

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: 

  • How much notice you or the client needs to give
  • Whether pay is required for any work already completed
  • What final deliverables, if any, your client receives

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.


Additional start-up fees

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.

No refunds

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.

And if you change your mind and decide you do want to allow refunds, we can help you out with a  Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy Bundle  that spells out everything your clients and customers need to know.

Screenshots and testimonials

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.

Cover all your bases with your contracts

To recap, you can include these terms in your contracts:

  • Upfront payments to ensure clients won’t ghost you (and to boost that cash flow)
  • Late fees to ensure you get paid on time
  • Cancellation clause in case your project or relationship needs to end early
  • Additional start-up fees so that clients who  do  ghost you or flake on you know that that won’t fly
  • No refund policy so that clients aren’t surprised later
  • Screenshots and testimonials that make sure you have client permission to share their info

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
Kevin Gallagher

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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