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Advocate IV
Advocate IV

Client contracts

@JMPepper posted about contracts on another thread and linked to an awesome contract template:


So let's talk about contracts!

> When should/shouldn't you use a contract?

> What information is absolutely essential to include in a client contract?

> Other tips for contract writing or negotiation?

> On an ongoing job, when the contract is up for renewal, how and when do you approach your client about renewing or terminating the contract? 


Feel free to post other contract templates or useful resources as well. 

Advocate I Advocate I
Advocate I

Re: Client contracts

The contract killer! I loved this and it's actually what I used as a base for my current contract. I think the key to it is - don't be a lawyer. I mean, cover your butt, but make it simple enough so that both parties understand exactly what is required. Make it easy enough for them to read it and get through it without a million more questions. I get complimented all the time on our contract by people telling me how straight forward it is and they know exactly what to expect.


To go bullet by bullet:

  • When to use a contract:
    • ALWAYS - WITHOUT EXCEPTION use a contract. Even someone with a really tiny job that can be done hourly instead of a full on project. I have a separate contract for that - but don't ever think you can get by without one. Even when you've had the client for a long time.
  • Essentials:
    • I believe deliverables - exactly what you will deliver and what the process will be.
    • Payment terms - remember that some clients like to hold on as long as possible. Make sure that you specify that payment is due BEFORE launch of the website.
    • This one was told to me and I think it's key - under no circumstances will you owe more than the amount of the contract. So at the end of the day, if they sue you - you owe them what they paid you so far (or the full amount of the contract). That's it - walk away without loosing your house and car.
    • The rate at which you expect a person to respond to you. I mention in ours that we will respond within 24 hours and expect the same from our client. We don't want to miss a deadline because they were loosing touch with us.
    • Ongoing services/maintenance. If you don't offer it, let them know it's not part of the package. Don't get a call months later because they broke something and think it's your fault.
  • Other Tips:
    • Create a template that you can easily switch certain items out. I can now do a contract in about 5-10 minutes as they are basically the same. Save 2 backups (because inevidably you'll forget you're writing on one of the baselines and hit the save button).
    • Make other documents for add ons/packages that might be helpful (SEO, social marketing, etc.) then insert them when nessecary.
  • Ongoing jobs:
    • I haven't personally had an ongoing job that didn't require a full new contract. Anytime something new comes up, I create a new contract and get that signed off.

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