Why is it so important to have a design contract? One reason is to establish clear expectations and make sure the client knows exactly what they’re getting. Another reason is to protect yourself from losing a big chunk of time and money. I can’t stress this enough — having a good contract will save you so much time and stress in the long run.
It’s important to tell the client exactly what they’ll be receiving, but it’s equally important to include a list of additional costs. In my earlier freelancing days, I’ve had clients ask for more work halfway through the project, without wanting to pay extra costs. A good contract would have informed them that any additional work requires and extra costs.
e.g. “Font or Image Licenses, Website Hosting Costs, Domain Costs, Copywriting and Extra Revisions are not included in the cost of the project and can be added for an additional cost.”
I used to charge 100% upfront, but depending on the cost of the project, some clients will prefer splitting the cost into multiple payments. By paying a deposit upfront, your client is showing commitment to working with you and you can safely set aside time for their project.
I find that if you don’t do this, clients will sometimes ask for variations upon variations simply for the sake of having more options. By putting a limit on revisions, you are encouraging them to be more intentional in their requests, and also YOU as the designer are making informed design choices — so any changes they ask for should be accompanied by a valid reason.
Clearly state what happens if a client cancels the project. Fingers crossed that no project gets cancelled, but if it ever does happen, you want to make sure you’re covered for any work that you’ve already done. I have in my contract that in the case of a cancellation, I will determine the percentage of the project that has been completed already and charge/refund the client accordingly.
Have expectations for the clients as well! If your client decides to ghost you for a week, it can delay the whole project and interfere with your other projects. Include in your contract that if the client doesn’t respond within ___ days, the project will be put on hold and rescheduled according to your availability. You can also charge a ‘late reply fee,’ which is strict, but will ensure that the client responds promptly.
I hope this was helpful! If you want to save some time, head to the template shop and check out my Contract Template for designers. I wrote this after working on 700+ projects as a freelancer, and rely on this contract for all of my projects!