There isn’t a magic formula, but there are definitely some keys to your success. You’ll want to keep these keys in mind whether you take on the occasional freelance writing project or you make your living frequently penning words for others. The key we will discuss today is your writer’s agreement. A good writer’s agreement helps make sure you get paid for the work you do.
Whether you keep it to one page or it spans a dozen, your writer’s agreement should have certain pieces of information that clearly outline the project. Your agreement is there to make sure expectations for the project are clear and to protect both your client and you.
I’m not an attorney so I’m not giving you legal advice. I am only sharing suggestions for you to consider, based on my professional experience as someone who has run a writing business for ten years and made a living writing all of my professional career.
1. Scope of project. Detail what you and your client have agreed to and what the project will accomplish. The client needs to know exactly what to expect to receive for the money paid.
2. Pay rate and pay schedule. You need to list both the overall rate and how it breaks down over the course of the project if your client will pay in installments.
3. How will it work? Are there certain pieces of information you need from the client to successfully complete your work? You need to outline what the client is responsible for providing and in what format. If you are doing a writing project that also includes design based on art supplied by the client, for instance, you’ll probably want to tell your client you’re expecting to receive print-ready art to work with in designing the project. Because if your client provides low-res artwork that doesn’t work and you have to research and provide other artwork or enhance that artwork, that includes additional time and work. Will that be provided as part of the contract, or is that outside the scope of agreed-upon work?
4. Include deadlines. Clients generally need to be pushed along so their projects can be completed in a timely fashion. So help them along by putting some deadlines for providing certain information or feedback to you. For instance, once you’ve sent your client the draft, will she have a week to provide feedback or a few days, or what? If the client doesn’t give feedback within that time frame and holds up the project, what happens?
5. What is considered completion? Writing and design projects are subjective, and as such, can constantly be tweaked or changed. So you need to clearly outline what completion means for your project. Will there be a certain number of revisions? Will there be an additional charge for changes beyond this number? Or will you work on an infinite number of changes based on the client’s whim? The reason this is important is that a client may like the work you’ve done and be ready to complete the project because you have done everything that was expected, but after talking to his wife, cousin, barber, and anyone else, he may decide the agreed-upon work actually doesn’t work and want you to make another round of changes. By outlining upfront how many rounds of changes will be included, you can limit this type of inefficient workflow. The client will know you’ll be happy to make additional changes to accommodate his sudden brainstorming session with his barber and cousin, but it’ll cost him.
6. Out clause. If the client changes her mind and cancels the project, then you still need to be paid for your work. What payment is due if the client terminates the project?
7. Rights. Do you have any rights to the project or is it a work-for-hire, in which the client owns all the rights? Will you transfer rights to the project upon final payment by client?
8. Plagiarism notice. If the client will be supplying you with content, you need to make sure the client has a right to use the information in the proposed way. That means the client should be the copyright holder or have written permission from the rights holder for the intended use. You should be protected against improperly used and supplied information.
These are eight keys you may want to include in your writer’s agreement. Talk to your attorney to make sure about your particular situation, so you can make money writing.