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Sample Web Developer or Web Designer contract for freelancing

freelance laptop guy in the dark

Just freelancing. In the dark.

Are you a beginner in the field of freelance web design or web development? Have you recently been screwed out of hard earned money or had some strange last minute changes to your beautiful layout or rock-solid code?

Has someone from Craigslist tried to mess around with agreed upon features or pages and cause scope creep?

What you have here is a failure in your contract. You are not protected by any kind of written, agreed upon list of rules for your work. When you don’t set boundaries for people, they often try to walk all over you, or at the very least, put little add-ons that slowly add up.

Sample Freelance Contract

Here is a sample contract that you can integrate into your own formal variation. While this is more of a rough version of the one that I actually use for my freelance projects, this will, at the very least, provide you with a framework.

  1. Milestones
    • usually no changes can be made after each milestone is accepted by both parties as “completed”
    • design milestone
    • coded layout of design milestone (html/css in a semi-working example)
    • copy and content milestone (so they can’t make delays)
    • functionality milestone
  2. Expectations of the website
  3. Deliverables from both sides (images, video, copy, etc.)
    • Occasionally clients can fail to deliver required images, text copy, video assets, or source files for logos in a timely manner
    • This ensures that your work will not be affected by other’s turnaround times
  4. Timelines (tied into the milestones)
    • When is every step expected to be completed? Give specific dates
  5. Cost (half of the total cost up front is good for you as a freelancer)
    • cancellation terms
    • project scope change (as in what happens when features or wants/needs change)
  6. Maintenance
    • Many clients think it is free maintenance for life – it must be spelled out in the contract
    • whether it is provided for a time frame (say 6 months)
    • whether it is free or a case-by-case additional cost
    • bugs and errors
  7. Modifications – this one is important
    • if the client has a friend, family member, other developer/designer change something, you are not responsible
    • fixes for problems resulting from third-party changes come at additional cost

A few things to mention

This contract is great for a few reasons: it covers all of the bases, it protects both parties of the project (so no more disappointed clients), and it provides a strong, reliable ruleset for any project.

While contracts for freelancing are generally a good thing, some people may get turned off by them. There are clients out there that may become intimidated, scared, or downright offended by contracts.

If, for any reason, you think that your prospective client may not react positively to a formal contract, consider not using one. When it comes down to it, if you want to get paid, you might need to decide to use a contract on a person-by-person basis.