Freelance Graphic Designer Job Contract: Dos and Don'ts

A freelance graphic design job offers tremendous flexibility and opportunity for creativity, but there are still "nuts-and-bolts" business matters you need to attend to. None is more important than setting up a strong and specific contract with your prospective client. A good contract protects both you and the client and establishes a strong business relationship. Here are some contract dos and don'ts for freelance graphic designers.

1: Do Specify Services You Will Render

Your client needs to establish exactly what he wants from you in writing. What exactly is the nature of the freelance graphic design job? What kind of visual art does the client need? The contract should specify all the client's expectations while still giving you room for creativity. You may need to negotiate with the client on these issues. A clear contract will remove any unexpected "surprises" and set up an unambiguous result.

2: Do Establish a Timetable

Create a specific timeline for the delivery of your product. A little negotiation may again be necessary if the client has an unreasonable expectation for when you can deliver. Remember, once it's in writing, you'll have to adhere to it.

3: Do Try to Obtain a Budget for Support Items

You may require some additional items to support your graphic design project. For example, you may need art supplies or even some graphic design software to complete your assignment. See if your client can offer financial support for the project and make it part of the contract. You may want to set up a certain amount to be provided for miscellaneous items needed for the task without being specific. This leaves you some "wiggle room."

4: Do Clarify Payment Terms

Payment terms need to be set up as specifically as possible. Not only the amount but also the method of payment needs to be established. State clearly if the payment for your freelance graphic design job will be made in a lump sum at the completion of the project or if regular installments will be made. Be as thorough and specific as possible in this part of the contract; it's good protection for both you and the client.

5: Do Establish Penalties

In case one of the parties does not hold up its part of the contract, you should establish penalties. If a payment is late or missing altogether, you need to include some sort of monetary penalty as an incentive to keep to the terms of the contract. This goes both ways though. The client will insist on penalties in case he does not receive his product in time. This is only fair. Putting these penalties in the contract provides a lot of impetus for getting things done correctly.

6: Don't Break Confidentiality

All contracts should contain a clause saying that both service provider and client will keep the other's information confidential. Stick to the agreement you make.