When you were in school and design ideas were bubbling forth like water from a spring, legal contracts were likely the last thing on your mind. Your plan was simple: You would design amazing images and websites, and people would buy them. Everybody’s happy, right?
The business world, like any other, is full of people. Some are good, honest, hardworking folks, and some are… not so much. A few will try to get something for nothing. Most business conflicts arise from decent people who simply mis-communicate. Either you or the client 1) didn’t understand the extent of the project, 2) had unrealistic expectations of the outcome, or 3) didn’t clarify how much money would be changing hands and when.
A contract is nothing more, and nothing less, than a communications tool. It sets out, in black and white, what is expected of each party entering into the agreement. It defines the bottom line- what the final product will be and how much it will cost. A good contract includes agreements about what will happen if one party or the other fails to fulfill their part of the bargain, or if changes need to be negotiated. A solid contract protects you, and your client from loss, frustration and legal problems.Contracts don’t have to be intimidating walls of legalese to be effective. In fact, the clearer and more concise the contract, the better. As long as the basics are covered, the contract is doing its job- protecting both you, and your client, from misunderstandings and legal headaches.
Using a contract does not diminish the trust and friendly relationship you have built with your clients. In fact, it creates a polished, professional image that helps your clients see you as a hard-working expert who will do his or her best to meet their needs, and who cares about their business.
For more on writing effective contracts, and some free templates to get you started, check out these helpful links: