The 7-Step Freelance Writing Contract Template

FREELANCE writing contract template

Eventually, if you freelance long enough, a client will ask you to send over YOUR standard contract. It might be your first assignment, might be your tenth, but it will eventually happen. And if it hasn’t happened yet, it will.

Will you be prepared?

Or maybe you have a current contract saved that you found online, but don’t know if it includes indemnity and non-compete clauses? Both of which, could bankrupt a freelance writer.

You might even add some clauses to protect your payment legally should a client’s checkbook suddenly seem to run dry.

Ya know, beef it up a little.

But contract writing is SO MUCH WORK!

I know.

That’s why so many of us immediately google templates. And we find something workable so we don’t have to start from scratch. But so many of them are incomplete, badly written or not designed for writers specifically that it’s hard to find a good free one.

Which is why, when I decided to overhaul my own contract file, I knew I’d want to share it here with you!

I’ve included the full contract in this post, but there is also a .doc file for you to download. You simply choose the clauses you need and delete the ones you don’t!

Be sure not to edit your master copy since it is the ‘full’ version of the contract. Instead make a copy for each new contract. You may also add your signature digitally, saving you from printing and scanning.

Your contracts are now as easy as select and delete!

Oh, one more thing about this contract. By using this contract, either through the information in this article or by downloading and using the .doc file, you assume all risk and responsibility in association with its use. The author will not be held liable for any damages incurred by the use of this contract or any variation hereafter. The contract template, nor this article, are meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always consult proper legal council.

And there’s your first lesson in contracts: cover your ass.

free contract template for freelance writers

Now let’s get started. I’ve created this handy graphic to show you how to get the most from the template and below it, you’ll find the contract itself. I’ve also included a completed sample so you can see how to format your final masterpiece.

 

free contract template for freelance writers

 

PAID WRITE’S FREELANCE WRITING CONTRACT TEMPLATE

 

Delete Before Use: By using this contract, through either the Paid Write blog post or by downloading another file type, you assume all risk and responsibility in association with its use. The author will not be held liable for any damages incurred by the use of this contract or any variation hereafter. The contract template, nor this article, are meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always consult proper legal council.

Parties and Assignment. This agreement (the “Agreement”) is made and entered into as of the INSERT DATE (the “Effective Date”) by and between YOUR CLIENT’S NAME OR COMPANY (hereafter referred to as “Client”) and The Writer, YOUR NAME, (hereafter referred to as “Writer”).

In consideration of the mutual covenants made herein, the parties agree as follows:

Work. Writer agrees to produce written materials (the “Work”) at the request of the Client for the fees agreed upon in advance and will turn in or deliver the Work by an agreed upon deadline. Work will include:

Describe the assignment, ongoing work or project, broken down by elements, here. Include any interviews, graphics, screenshots, photography, word counts,

Example: Work will include two 600-word articles each week, with each article including a copyright-free image, the link to that image, two external links to reputable sources, one internal website link for further information, and one quote from a professional source.

  1. Work will be submitted by EMAIL/GOOGLE DOCS/WP PORTAL/PRIVATE ACCOUNT in .doc and .jpg file formats every DAY AND TIME.

3. Work will be assigned by the Client every DAY OF WEEK OR MONTH, with that work due for completion and delivery to the Client on or before the following DAY OF WEEK OR MONTH/TIME. Upon delivery, Client has ONE WEEK/THREE BUSINESS DAYS/ TIL THE END OF TIME to provide notes and request edits. Work includes one edited rewrite at the request of the client, rewriting an article beyond the first completed edit will cost $$$ per revision.

-or-

3. Possible ideas for Work will be pitched by the Writer every DAY OF WEEK OR MONTH. Client will provide approval by the following DAY OF WEEK OR MONTH, with these assignments due for completion and delivery to the Client on or before the following DAY OF WEEK OR MONTH/TIME.

-or-

3. Work to be completed in sections, as with a big project, or in a way that isn’t described above should be described here. Include the scope of your Work for the Client, how it will be assigned or approved before you move on with the project, and when it is expected to be completed. (Adding a fee for additional rewrites can save you from problem-clients.) Also include how the acceptance, editing, and rewrite process will function.

Writer agrees that he/she will be the sole author of the Work, which will be original work by Writer, free of plagiarism and PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED/PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED. Writer agrees to use reasonable care to ensure that all facts and statements in the Work are true and that the Work does not infringe upon any copyright, right of privacy, proprietary right, right of publicity or any other right of a third party. Writer agrees that Client has the right to edit the Work as it deems appropriate for publication, and that Writer will cooperate with Client in one round of editing and otherwise reviewing the Work prior to publication.

Client Approval. Client is responsible for written approval of work ordered (i.e., copy, design, photography, typesetting, and other services) required for the completion of the Work. Upon acceptance of the Work, client accepts responsibility for any further processes in which this work is used (i.e., film output, printing, etc.) Writer is not responsible for errors occurring in this work or projects related to this work after acceptance of the Work.

Changes. Any verbal or written changes made by Client to the scope of the Work following one edit and rewrite (or second draft) are subject to additional charges. Should such changes negate any part of the Work already completed at the time of the changes, Client accepts responsibility for payment of the completed work and all services related to it, in addition to charges for the change itself.

Cancellation. Upon written or verbal cancellation, Client is responsible for payment for all expenses incurred and any work done toward the completion of the project based on the percentage of project completed. Should Client cancel the project following its completion, Client is responsible for full payment as per the above estimate plus all other expenses incurred.

Payment and Invoicing.

Client agrees to pay Writer $$$ in USD funds for the Work outlined above upon COMPLETION/PUBLICATION/INVOICE/A SET SCHEDULE. Invoices will be sent to the Client via PAYPAL/EMAIL/OTHER by the Writer upon COMPLETION OF WORK/THE AFOREMENTIONED SCHEDULE. Client may pay Writer by PAYPAL/CHECK/OTHER. Invoices not paid within 30 days will be subject to collection. If the parameters of the Work changes, or if it involves more time than originally estimated, Writer will inform Client and they can renegotiate the rate.

-or- for more complex projects, you may want to use this:

Writer will bill for half of the total estimated cost when Writer begins the Work with the balance due upon completion. Writer will submit the final invoice for the Work via EMAIL/PAYPAL upon receiving approval from Client. If Writer has not received any comments or revisions within a week of submitting a completed draft, Writer will send the invoice. Writer requires half of the total estimate cost up front before beginning a rush job if for a first-time client. Writer requires a purchase order number or an initialized agreement, such as the signing of this contract, before beginning Work. If the parameters of the Work changes, or if it involves much more time than originally estimated, Writer will inform Client and they can renegotiate the rate.

Reimbursement. Client will reimburse the Writer for any previously approved expenses related to the Work including but not limited to PHOTOCOPYING/POSTAGE/MATERIALS/IMAGE LICENSES/PROGRAM LICENSES/ETC. Incidental expenses such as long distance phone calls are absorbed by the Writer. Mileage to special events or interviews is billed at the rate currently accepted by the IRS. Writer is responsible for the payment of all federal, state and/or local taxes with respect to the services she performs for the client as an independent contractor. The Client will not treat Writer as an employee for any purpose. Reimbursement expenses will be included in the Writer’s invoice to the Client.

 

free contract template for freelance writers

 

Collection. Unless otherwise specified in writing, invoices not paid within 30 days of the invoice date will accrue interest at 1.5% per month.  Unpaid invoices are expected to be paid before further Work is assigned. Past due payments will result in no further Work being completed until the balance is paid and received. Client agrees to pay all reasonable attorney’s fees (at least 15% of all amounts due, including interest) if any account is placed with an attorney for collection. Client agrees that the purchase of the services described herein constitutes “doing business” with respect to any suit brought by The Writer to collect any sums hereunder.

ALWAYS include an indemnity clause that protects you. As a sole-proprietor (and even an LLC) you are legally liable for damages incurred by your work. Since client work is commissioned, you can transfer responsibility for publishing your work to them. Without this clause, you are held liable for any legal claims against your work. Which seems crazy that someone would sue, but if someone does, you could lose your business, house, car, savings, everything. Protect yourself here and keep an eye out for what liabilities you’re saddled with in contracts sent to you by clients, too!

Indemnity. Writer will cooperate with Client if any complaints, claims or litigation should arise regarding the Work, though the Writer will not be held legally responsible or absorb any damages pertaining to the Work. Client will be responsible for any legal fees arising from any lawsuits filed against the Writer in relation to the Work.

You can modify the Rights clause however you like, depending on which rights will be granted to whom. As always, negotiate to keep as many rights to your work as possible. Assignments where you’ve sold First Serial Rights, One-Time Rights, or limited Electronic Rights allow you to sell Second Serial or Reprint Rights once the rights revert back to you, the author. This content can then be resold over and over, so long as you continue to own the rights. I’ve even rounded up 19 Reprint Markets that will pay for your previously published work.

Rights.

1. The Client retains All rights to the Work and may digitally publish, print, modify, create electronic products, or hereby further develop the Work.

-or-

1. The Work, including any graphics, content, interviews, digital media or other information developed by the Writer shall be the property of the Writer who grants, upon completion of the Work, FIRST SERIAL RIGHTS/ONE-TIME RIGHTS/SECOND SERIAL (REPRINT) RIGHTS/SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS/ELECTRONIC RIGHTS to the Client for a period of TIME PERIOD, though the Work may continue to be archived by the Client on their blog or website.

Confidentiality. Writer acknowledges that he/she may be furnished or may otherwise receive or have access to information which relates to the Client’s past, present or future products, vendor lists, creative works, marketing strategies, pending projects and proposals, and other valuable information which gives the Client an opportunity to acquire an advantage over its competitors. Writer agrees to preserve and protect the confidentiality of this Valuable Information including all physical forms thereof. In addition, Writer shall not disclose or disseminate the Valuable Information to any third party and shall not use it for his or her own benefit or for the benefit of any third party. Writer shall be prohibited from discussing the Client or the Work with a representative of the press or media, either directly or indirectly, without the Client’s express written prior approval.

DO NOT include the Non-Compete clause unless your Client requests it specifically, and even then negotiate for the shortest non-compete period possible. If you specialize in a subject, you may even turn down a client if it means legally shutting yourself out of your niche.

Non-Compete. The Writer specifically agrees that for a period of 90 DAYS/6 MONTHS/OTHER TIMEFRAME after the Writer is no longer employed by the Client, the Writer will not engage, directly or indirectly, in the salable creation of media, written or any other content similar to those topics created for the Client or for audiences within their industry as a whole.

Termination. Official termination of this Agreement may be made by either party through written means, email included, delivered to the other party two weeks in advance of the date of termination. Client shall not decrease workload after initiating termination of Writer.

 

I, ___________________________________ (Client company representative), assert that I am employed by ___________________________________ (Client), and that I have the authority to promise payment for the services rendered by The Writer for the aforementioned Work. I assert that I have read, understood and agree to the Freelance Writing Contract and Agreement.

_____________________________________ Client Signature     _____________________ Date

I, (The Writer) assert that I have read, understood and agree to the Freelance Writing Contract and Agreement.

_____________________________________Writer’s Signature    _____________________ Date

 

easy to use freelance writing contract template for quick client contracts

 

 

 

Now to see how a finished contract will look after customizing the template:

Parties and Assignment. This agreement (the “Agreement”) is made and entered into as of today (the “Effective Date”) by and between my new client (hereafter referred to as “Client”) and The Writer, me, (hereafter referred to as “Writer”).

In consideration of the mutual covenants made herein, the parties agree as follows:

Work. Writer agrees to produce written materials (the “Work”) at the request of the Client for the fees agreed upon in advance and will turn in or deliver the Work by an agreed upon deadline. Work will include two 600-word articles each week, with each article including a copyright-free image, the link to that image, two external links to reputable sources, one internal website link for further information, and one quote from a professional source. Work will be submitted by email in .doc and .jpg file formats every Friday by 5pm EST.  Possible ideas for Work will be pitched by the Writer every Monday. Client will provide approval by the following Tuesday, with these assignments due for completion and delivery to the Client on or before the following Friday. Writer agrees that he/she will be the sole author of the Work, which will be original work by Writer, free of plagiarism and previously unpublished. Writer agrees to use reasonable care to ensure that all facts and statements in the Work are true and that the Work does not infringe upon any copyright, right of privacy, proprietary right, right of publicity or any other right of a third party. Writer agrees that Client has the right to edit the Work as it deems appropriate for publication, and that Writer will cooperate with Client in one round of editing and otherwise reviewing the Work prior to publication.

Client Approval. Client is responsible for written approval of work ordered (i.e., copy, design, photography, typesetting, and other services) required for the completion of the Work. Upon acceptance of the Work, client accepts responsibility for any further processes in which this work is used (i.e., film output, printing, etc.) Writer is not responsible for errors occurring in this work or projects related to this work after acceptance of the Work.

Changes. Any verbal or written changes made by Client to the scope of the Work following one edit and rewrite (or second draft) are subject to additional charges. Should such changes negate any part of the Work already completed at the time of the changes, Client accepts responsibility for payment of the completed work and all services related to it, in addition to charges for the change itself.

Cancellation. Upon written or verbal cancellation, Client is responsible for payment for all expenses incurred and any work done toward the completion of the project based on the percentage of project completed. Should Client cancel the project following its completion, Client is responsible for full payment as per the above estimate plus all other expenses incurred.

Payment and Invoicing. Client agrees to pay Writer $75 in USD funds for the Work outlined above upon completion. Invoices will be sent to the Client via PayPal by the Writer upon completion. Client will pay Writer by PayPal. Invoices not paid within 30 days will be subject to collection. If the parameters of the Work changes, or if it involves more time than originally estimated, Writer will inform Client and they can renegotiate the rate.

Reimbursement. Client will reimburse the Writer for any previously approved expenses related to the Work including but not limited to PHOTOCOPYING/POSTAGE/MATERIALS/IMAGE LICENSES/PROGRAM LICENSES/ETC. Incidental expenses such as long distance phone calls are absorbed by the Writer. Mileage to special events or interviews is billed at the rate currently accepted by the IRS. Writer is responsible for the payment of all federal, state and/or local taxes with respect to the services she performs for the client as an independent contractor. The Client will not treat Writer as an employee for any purpose. Reimbursement expenses will be included in the Writer’s invoice to the Client.

free contract template for freelance writers

Collection. Unless otherwise specified in writing, invoices not paid within 30 days of the invoice date will accrue interest at 1.5% per month.  Unpaid invoices are expected to be paid before further Work is assigned. Past due payments will result in no further Work being completed until the balance is paid and received. Client agrees to pay all reasonable attorney’s fees (at least 15% of all amounts due, including interest) if any account is placed with an attorney for collection. Client agrees that the purchase of the services described herein constitutes “doing business” with respect to any suit brought by The Writer to collect any sums hereafter.

Indemnity. Writer will cooperate with Client if any complaints, claims or litigation should arise regarding the Work, though the Writer will not be held legally responsible or absorb any damages pertaining to the Work. Client will be responsible for any legal fees arising from any lawsuits filed against the Writer in relation to the Work.

Rights. The Work, including any graphics, content, interviews, digital media or other information developed by the Writer shall be the property of the Writer who grants, upon completion of the Work, First Electronic Rights to the Client for a period of 6 months, though the Work may continue to be archived by the Client on their blog or website.


Confidentiality. Writer acknowledges that he/she may be furnished or may otherwise receive or have access to information which relates to the Client’s past, present or future products, vendor lists, creative works, marketing strategies, pending projects and proposals, and other valuable information which gives the Client an opportunity to acquire an advantage over its competitors. Writer agrees to preserve and protect the confidentiality of this Valuable Information including all physical forms thereof. In addition, Writer shall not disclose or disseminate the Valuable Information to any third party and shall not use it for his or her own benefit or for the benefit of any third party. Writer shall be prohibited from discussing the Client or the Work with a representative of the press or media, either directly or indirectly, without the Client’s express written prior approval.

Termination. Official termination of this Agreement may be made by either party through written means, email included, delivered to the other party two weeks in advance of the date of termination. Client shall not decrease workload after initiating termination of Writer.

I, ___________________________________ (Client company representative), assert that I am employed by ___________________________________ (Client), and that I have the authority to promise payment for the services rendered by The Writer for the aforementioned Work. I assert that I have read, understood and agree to the Freelance Writing Contract and Agreement.

 

_____________________________________ Client Signature     _____________________ Date

I, (The Writer) assert that I have read, understood and agree to the Freelance Writing Contract and Agreement.

 

_____________________________________Writer’s Signature    _____________________ Date

 

Not too shabby – and you’ll be able to create a new contract for each and every client, no matter their needs!

free contract template for freelance writers

 

For more information on how these contract clauses affect your freelance writing career, read Freelance Writing Contracts: Your Guide To Common Clauses.

I spent years working low-paying jobs. I’ve been a cashier. A line cook. I unloaded trucks. These days I support myself and my children with my writing. It’s a new and exciting life – and I want the same for you!
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