Freelance Consulting Job Contract Dos and Don'ts

Freelance consulting is a profession that is hot right now, as companies trying to save money are looking to hire outside talent for specific projects. This opens up a lot of opportunity for freelancers with specialized knowledge and skills that others are willing to pay for. But as always, both consultant and employer need to be careful about just what is expected of them. The best way to insure expectations are met is through the use of contracts. Here are some do's and don't's regarding contracts for freelance consultants.

1. Services rendered

Any good contract needs to specify what services are being provided by the contractor. With a consulting job, this can be tricky. It's not as easy as saying "the building will be constructed by such and such a time". You are providing ideas for the contractee. The contract will need to establish a result that can be measured to the satisfaction of both parties. The language may take a while to iron out, but this is a necessary part of the process. Set up a reasonable goal that can be achieved.

2. Guarantees

Guarantees are something you need to be very careful with in a contract. Guaranteeing the quality of your work can certainly attract and retain clients. But you need to allow yourself an "escape route" in a written contract. Words to the effect that you can guarantee a positive result If given sufficient time and support by the contractee. The nature of "sufficient" is something both parties can discuss and agree on. The main thing to remember when making a guarantee is: don't bite off more than you can chew!

3. Payment terms

These definitely must be established in the contracts. Set up how you will be paid, what amount you will be paid and the dates for payment. If the payment will be lump sum or in installments needs to be spelled out. Here is where you need to be specific, so there is no misunderstanding of the amount, time or method of payment. This is common sense protection for you.

4. Penalties

You must also protect yourself for non-payment, late payment or cancellation by the contractee. Specific consequences need to be established if one of these things happen. You can use your own judgment based on the work you are doing to establish the monetary amount of the penalties. Keep in mind, this goes both ways...the contractee may insist on penalties if you also fail to make appointments or deadlines. You'll also need to set up just what constitutes being late.

5. Confidentiality

Many freelance contracts neglect this important point. A client's information may be very private or sensitive. They will want to make sure an outside consultant is just as careful with the information as they are. A good contract needs to define the circumstances that sensitive information can be relayed or shared. Failure to do so could result in some pretty sticky situations.


These are some of the basic ideas behind freelance consulting contracts. The particulars will vary depending on the nature of your work. The general thing to remember is, be as specific as possible but do not give absolute guarantees.