How to write a contract for freelance work

Written by paul bayliss Google
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How to write a contract for freelance work
Writing a good contract is a skill required by all freelancers. (NA/ Images)

Ensuring that a contract is in place for work is essential for freelance workers. A contract sets out exactly what is to be done and should include details of terms and conditions including delivery dates, fees and expenses. Having a contract in place can also provide freelancers with some security against future legal and financial wrangles with clients.

Contracts can be written for all types of freelance services and should always be completed and agreed before beginning work.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Define the scope of your project at the beginning of the contract, specifying exactly what you will do and in what time-frame. Make it clear that you are working as a freelancer rather than an employer to avoid difficulties around IR35 regulations with HM Revenue and Customs.

  2. 2

    Specify how much you expect to be paid for the job and what expenses will be reimbursed. State either an hourly rate or a fee for the entire project but make it clear that if more work is required than initially apparent, the fee can be re-negotiated. Clarify whether a ‘kill fee’ will be paid if a project is cancelled and also state how and when payment will be made. Smaller projects will generally be paid on completion but on a larger project you may want to negotiate for payment in stages. Try to include terms of late payment penalties in the contract.

  3. 3

    Include a section on rights for usage and resale if applicable. If you are doing design or artistic work, include a clause stating that intellectual property ownership of the work remains with you until payment has been made and clarify if the client expects exclusive rights to the work. Try and specify that you can use a client’s name to promote your services in promotional material.

Tips and warnings

  • Check out websites that provide contract templates such as You might find a template that fits your requirements exactly or examples that you can adapt for your own contract.
  • Seek specialist legal advice if you are drafting a complex contract and have little experience writing contracts.

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