Are You A Freelancer Without a Contract?
Let’s talk contracts for a few minutes.
Who needs a contract anyway?
What could go wrong?
I just want to get started on social media management, I have no time to speak to a lawyer.
I have no money to pay a lawyer to create a contract for me.
I like this new client, they aren’t going to screw me over
These are some general thoughts you might have as a brand new freelancer or brand new freelance social media manager.
Or maybe you are already working as a social media manager, and you’ve never had an issue with a client.
Can we just say one thing?
Before touching any client’s social media channels, you absolutely 100% need a contract!
Why? We at Social Media Pro hear heartbreaking stories – on a weekly basis – from real freelance social media managers, who either never took the time, effort and money to invest in a good contract, or left out important details in their contract. These stories detail payment disputes, communication issues, non-payment issues, scope creep and much much more.
We are of the opinion that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
In today’s article, we give you 7 contract tips to get you started with creating a solid and iron-clad contract.
*NOTE: We are not lawyers. While it may be fine for you to draft your own contract or use a contract template found online to start, always have an attorney look over, edit and approve contracts before signing it and sending the contract to a client.
Learn From Other People’s Contract Mistake!
- Clients who don’t pay.
- Business owners who pay late.
- Copyright violations.
- Angry customers.
- Shady business deals.
At any time, you, even as a freelancer, can get caught in the middle of a dispute.
As stated before, the best way to avoid issues with clients is to prevent issues from developing. A solid and detailed contract is a must for any freelancer.
Why make the same mistakes other freelance social media managers have made?
Learn from their mistakes instead; create a contract, or rework your contract today if the 7 contract tips we've outlined below are not currently part of your contract!
7 Helpful Contract Tips for the First-Time Freelancer
One of our Facebook group members asked the following question a few months back:
“What is something you left out of your contracts with your first clients that you (learned through experience to) include now?”
We gathered all the amazing and helpful answers from our community of social media managers and here are the 7 most helpful contract tips!
1. Duration of the Contract
It’s tempting to take on a new client who just wants to ‘test the waters' with you. We get that. It's exciting. That first contract might be for one month only, or a 3-month period.
Some new social media managers never even sign a contract for that first trial period at all. (Don't risk it!)
However, the more experienced social media managers advocate for at least a 6-month contract, preferably a 12-month contract, making sure this time frame is prominently written in the contract.
This clause will give both you and your client peace of mind and continuity, which is a big deal in social media as social media management is more of a marathon than a sprint! Results will take some time to show; data needs to be gathered over a period of time and 30 or 90 days is often not enough to show significant growth!
2. ‘End of Contract' Clause
Your contract should absolutely have an exit clause! It is up to you to decide what those conditions are for yourself, and your client. Whichever way you write it up, make sure both of you can end the contract within reason. At the same time, this protects you when a client wants to end your working relationship ‘yesterday'.
Here are some ways to add this clause to your contract:
- “30-Day notice required to cancel”
- “Creative differences are grounds for dismissal”
- “Failure to pay for services rendered is cause for immediate cancelation of the contract”
Not every client is an ideal client; sometimes the smartest thing to do is end the relationship. This clause ensures you can end a soured relationship, on your terms!
3. Communication Method
If you do not specify in your contract how often and how your client will get your ‘support’ during the duration of your contract, you might be in for a shocker.
We hear stories of clients who email, text or call their social media managers at all hours, day and night, demanding answers and resolutions to non-emergency issues immediately.
It might seem they are overstepping boundaries.
However, most often a client will act like this because you, the freelancer, never set any boundaries to start with!
Therefore, add your preferred communication method to your contract!
Be specific about how many one-on-one meetings you will have each month, specify the length of planning meetings and if they are in-person or virtual! Be as specific as you can be and outline all other communication; include your business hours in your contract.
4. Payment Method and Expectations
Your contract should clearly state
- The cost of hiring you, per month
- How you will bill for additional work (hourly rate)
- When payments are due
- How you will bill
- Non-payment consequences (work is stopped, late fees)
5. First Payment Installment Due at Signing of Contract
With the previous clause, you also need to include in your next new contract, that “first payment is due at the signing of the contract”!
No payment = no work.
NOTE: You should always bill for the upcoming month, not for work completed!
6. Training and Set up Fees are Extra
If you charge extra for training and setting up new accounts, add that to your proposal, and then to your contract.
No one likes to get a surprise bill (clients) and no one likes to work for free (social media managers)
Be transparent and add this additional cost to your proposal, and then bill this additional cost at the signing of the contract.
7. Mutual NDA
First, check our here what a non-disclosure agreement is.
While not every freelance social media manager has an NDA with every client, you should look into creating one to protect both yourself and your client! It’s a good idea for those working with sensitive materials and in certain industries, such as the medical industry and start-ups just to name two that come to mind.
It is mutually beneficial to have an NDA, avoiding potential issues down the road.
BONUS TIP: Scope of Work
Always, always, always add your scope of work to your contract.
Make it a habit to send proposals for social media management services via email so that when you and the prospect agree on services, you can simply copy and paste their preferred services right into your contract!
Scope creep is a real thing freelancers deal with.
Adding the scope of work to a contract, as well as ‘hourly rate for additional work’ under the payment expectations, allows you to bill the client for the extra work they are requesting.
NOTE: It good practice to remind the client first.
“This is outside the scope of work as outlined in our contract. Would you like me to go ahead and complete this additional project/task for the hourly rate as stated in our contract?”
Are You a New Freelancer Social Media Manager?
We hope these contract tips will serve you well!
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I am a Certified Social Media Manager, Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Organic Specialist and Agile marketer! Blogging is my creative outlet. Running, hiking and skiing are how I recharge. You'll recognize me on stage and online by my always present orange glasses, a nod to my Dutch heritage.