Freelancing is something that has its own risks. Like any business, you are dealing with all sorts of clients. Those who are new to the game may not have a set policy, but they should.
Whether you are new to freelancing for writing or even web design, here are some ideas to include into your policy.
Have a clear policy written from the beginning before the project begins. Everything that is expected should be included:
- Define your duties. Go into detail. There are some clients who believe you will do more for free and it ends up being a time consuming job.
- List an estimated time of completion or a timeline. Your client might be on a deadline, so make sure you agree on one and set it to paper. Even if you might be a little late, you should always give room. Some clients may try to pay less for your services. Make sure to include in the policy a clause that prevents this. If a client brings in another developer to help, make sure you get paid from your time.
- Define payment method. If you require 50% of payment up front and the rest upon completion, you need to have that in your policy. This goes double for web designers. Just google about it – there are a lot of stories where web designers have been completely stiffed.
- Make a transfer of project policy upon completion. This is a big one. If you give the final draft or load the live site up before being paid, are you sure the client will pay you? Once the client has approved the project, make sure you get paid. If you have to include a clause in your policy on a third method of payment just for transferring, all the more power to you.
- Define methods of communication. Some clients require more communication than others- some ridiculously so. Outline your hours and expectations of communication. Some clients feel communication might involve chatting while you are trying to get a project done. This is distracting and could push your time. If the demands can be listed outside of phone or a instant messaging program, insist that they send an email with their list of requests. While you might be happy to give your phone number out, you might have to put a policy on it. Some clients might be obligated to call you whenever they feel like.
- Define your support policy. If you have finished a project and the client is getting use to it, especially in web design, they might have questions. You need to specify how long you will provide support for a project after the main project has been completed. You will also have to define what is included in the support. There will be times when the client actually wants you to add something. That is not support… that is site maintenance and you should be charging them. That needs to be listed in your policy.
- Define copyright and disclosure. This is where you define what type of project – whether the client allows you to put a credit line or it is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA.) You also need to include the disclosure for the sources of your images and what the rights are. For web and graphic designers, this is important, especially if you purchased a license to use certain images.
The bottom line is that even if you feel like your policy might be a bit strict, it is there for a good reason: to make sure you get paid. Your rights are protected. If you do not, it is like your car being hit and the culprit is no where to be found. You end up stuck paying the insurance. In the case of freelancing, when this happens, you end up eating your time or sometimes get your work stolen.
If you freelance, what do you include in your policy?