Freelance Tip: Why a Contract Is Necessary


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Now that I am revving up on freelance work, I’m starting to understand the importance of contracts. I’ve never liked contracts, believe me, and I always feel uncomfortable perusing one in front of a client or an employer, as though I didn’t trust him, that he’d insert a clause for his own convenience while I wasn’t looking.But recently something happened that made me realize how important contracts are and why one should study them very well before signing.

One client I used to edit a manuscript for recently terminated our contract after a year’s work. No explanation was offered, although I had an inkling why they decided to end it.

I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say I was doing editing work for a client who is related to someone whom I once considered family. I gave this client a good “family” price, which was almost 50 percent less than what I would normally charge an author seeking my editing services. The contract included many freebies, including free encoding of the manuscript, which I don’t normally do.

Basically, I thought I was doing business with “family,” and thus, I left out that clause that stipulates what the client should pay should he decide to end the contract because I honestly wanted to see this manuscript through, you know? I always have this special attachment to every manuscript I edit (I usually check how they do at the best-sellers’ list; more on this next week).

I must admit I didn’t see it coming, so I was shocked. I panicked, worried that they would not pay me, and that is the lesson of this story: Treat everyone the same. In business, there are no friends or family.

And yes, don’t forget that termination clause.

Kristen Fischer has a more concise article about contracts here.

Photo credit: Vjik86

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About Karla

I am an e-mail marketer, editor, and writer. My passions are yoga, food, and Filipino arts and culture.

3 responses to “Freelance Tip: Why a Contract Is Necessary”

  1. chesca (exskindiver) says :

    hi karla,
    sorry to hear about this.

  2. Karla says :

    Hi, Chesca:

    Thank you.

    Fortunately after some negotiation, they agreed to my request to settle for half of the balance I should have been paid had the book gone to press (the manuscript’s done, anyway; the first part of a series, that is). But it’s a lesson for me. Am new to all this, and am learning everything the hard way. But no regrets, right?

    Thanks for visiting 🙂 I thought I’d take this writing blog more seriously, so I’ll try to update this more often.

  3. Jo says :

    You have come out of this experience having learned a valuable lesson and a much stronger and wiser person. Every good wish.

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