Should You Have Your Freelance Clients Sign A Contract?

2020-07-05

This is a common question freelancers have when starting. You’re scared that you’ll get screwed if you don’t have a contract in place but you’re also worried you’ll scare off potential clients if you try to get them to sign a contract.

What should you do?!

Before I continue, here’s a quick disclaimer; I’m not a lawyer, so you shouldn’t take this as legal advice.

I don’t use contracts in my freelance business.

Why? Am I worried I’ll get screwed over by delivering work that I don’t get paid for?

First of all, contracts are worthless unless you’re going to enforce them by taking the offender to court. Court battles are very costly and unless you have a lot at stake, they’re probably not worth it for you.

Second of all, a lot of my clients are not huge corporate clients so a contract is likely to scare them off during the sales process.

To reduce risk on my end I’ll typically just ask for 50% payment upfront and 50% upon completion. If it’s under $500-1k, I’ll typically just ask for 100% upfront before I get started.

I also try to make my proposals as detailed as possible so there’s never any question about what work is being delivered.

The only exception to using contracts is for clients that I acquire through Upwork. For those, Upwork provides the contract and handles payments so I don’t have to worry about it.