A freelance copywriting contract for a quick & dirty gig?

Three fountain pens representing a freelance copywriting business contractGreetings and welcome to another installment of the how to start an SEO copywriting business series!

In this video, Heather builds on her previous two posts speaking to the importance of having a freelance copywriting contract. Specifically, she answers a question posed by a reader/viewer asking whether a contract is still necessary for small copywriting jobs.

This is an excellent question, and one that will come up many times in your freelance copywriting career.

A client will need some work done and after looking over the scant requirements, you’ll think “Oh, I can knock this out in a few hours.” Then you’re presented with the question of what to do about a contractual agreement, knowing that dealing with that would actually take more time than it would for you to do the work.

In this commonplace scenario, do you still need to send the client a contract? Or can you just do the work, call it a wrap, and get paid already?

Tune in as Heather outlines some options for you to consider…

Short answer: YES!

You may recognize this first slide from Heather’s original video post discussing how crucial it is for freelance copywriters to work with a legal document.

While contracts may seem like a pain and a huge hassle, they’re a necessary evil for two compelling reasons:

-  A contract spells out the terms and gets everyone on the same page.

-  A good contract protects you – and protects your client, too.


Here’s a possible option…

That said, here are some things to consider when you’re in that position…

- Is it a NEW client? Have them sign the agreement. Consider getting the money up front.

If it’s a brand new client, even if it’s a fast job, have them sign the agreement…because they’re unknown and you’ve never dealt with them before! The client is not familiar with your terms, either, so a contract gives them an opportunity to review them and determine whether they still want to work with you.

You may also want to consider getting paid before you begin work, because it is a quick job and getting 50% now and 50% two days from now may not make sense.

-  Is it an EXISTING client who has already signed your agreement? Spell out your terms in an email. Tell your client you’ll need written confirmation before you start. 

If it’s an existing client – you have a history, they pay their bills, everything’s gone fine – you may opt to just outline your terms in an email.

So while you’d still spell out your terms (i.e., what you’ll be doing, when you’ll send it to them, how much it will cost, and when payment is due), you’d simply let your client know that you’ll need written confirmation from them before you start work.

What I’ll do is write an email reiterating my terms, and then ask “is this ok?” at the end of the message. Then I wait for the client to respond with “yes, this is ok” before I’ll start the work.

-  Ask your attorney about a master services agreement.

This is another option – asking your attorney about a master services agreement.

Again, I am not an attorney and none of this constitutes legal advice. I highly recommend all freelance copywriters to work with an attorney to figure this stuff out, because it is so important!

A master services agreement is something that your clients sign once, and then you’re done with it. At that point, all the terms have been negotiated, they’re set, and then you’ll be able to work with email – or whatever paper trail you and your client prefer – for future jobs.

Thanks for joining me for this installment of the how to start a freelance SEO copywriting business! I really appreciate that reader/viewer question, and I know that other people have lots of questions about how to successfully run a freelance copywriting business.

So if you’d like some free advice, you can simply send an email to write4income@aweber.com, and you’ll receive a series of tips delivered right to your inbox! And you may also want to check out the Copywriting Business Boot Camp for more intensive training.

And for real SEO copywriting tips I’d encourage you to sign up for my newsletter. You have the option of receiving daily updates or a weekly summary of the daily blog posts each Tuesday.

As always, I welcome your questions, suggestions, and feedback! You can leave them below in the comments, or email me at heather@seocopywriting.com. You can also find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd. “See” you next Monday!


photo thanks to Keith Williamson

Only 2 days left to nab a 20% discount on the SEO Copywriting Certification training! Be sure to sign up by February 20th, using the code UPDATE.