5 essential elements of a freelance contract [Invoice templates included]

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Without a freelance contract you could find yourself in real trouble. You can find yourself with a completely unhappy client. Even worse, you don’t get paid a penny for your hard work. Read here the 5 essential elements that you need to add into your freelance contract.

  1. Basic information
  2. Scope of the project
  3. Revisions and deadlines
  4. Cancellations
  5. Payment plan and billing

Freelancers need to have contracts with their clients so an understanding is made between the two parties. Also, the freelance contract makes it crystal clear what’s expected by the freelancer and manages expectations. Contracts are a useful tool to help when any dispute arises about what work was expected and payments.

Many freelancers fear contracts, mainly because they don’t understand the legal language out there. But getting a freelance contract is essential if you’re not working from a job board. Job boards such as Fiverr or People Per Hour where clients have to pay unless they raise a dispute.

If you’re unsure of what goes into a contract, here are 5 elements that must be included (no skipping it).

Basic information


It may sound obvious but still the simple things are easily forgotten. Adding basic information to a freelance contract is something you need to add. Basic information including

  • Client and freelancers name
  • Client and freelancers business address and name
  • Dates of contract when signed, when project starting, expected date of work delivered

Depending on the type of freelancing work you’re doing there can be other basic information required in a freelance contract. Take a look at your industry to see what specifics you need to add to your contract.

Scope of the project

Scope of the project is making it crystal clear in the freelance contract. Clarity for what work will be done by the freelancer and the clients expectations.

During negotiations, the scope of the project should be well and truly discussed. Working out what exactly needs to be done for what the client wants. This negotiation and writing it into the contract limits the clients expectations. Helping you out when after work is done. Just in case the client is expecting you to do something extra that wasn’t in the contract.

You can go straight back to the client and say that it wasn’t in the contract. Or wasn’t discussed previously via email or letter. Get everything that the client expects of you down on paper and not a verbal agreement. Contracts protect you better, especially if you’ve got to go to a small claims court in extreme cases.

Revisions and deadlines

When you’ve got a new client, there’s one guarantee. They’ll want revisions. Don’t take this badly as you’re still getting to know each other. More importantly, you’re getting to know the client’s business. What you need to do is consider how many revisions you’re prepared to do. Prepared for before thinking that whatever you do it’s still not good enough.

So in your freelance contract make it clear how many revisions you’re prepared to do before hitting the deadline.

Deadlines are a time specified in a freelance contract. A time agreed between you and the client as to when the work needs to be done. Other factors to include in the deadline is when you expect feedback by and when payment should be made.


The client has canceled the contract, but you’ve already put time and effort into the project, so how do you get compensated for the time and effort you’ve already put in. This is why freelancers put into the contract that before any work begins, the client has to pay a deposit.

Typically a deposit is a non-refundable amount that covers your basic costs of doing the work. This non-refundable amount is to cover any costs that are incurred when the client cancels the contract, but hours plus additional expenses have already been done.

Add a cancellation cause into your freelance contract and get some payment for your work even if the client decides to cancel during the project.

Payment plan and billing

Always when negotiating your price with the client, you should be setting out your expectations for the payment. Payment plans are created by freelancers and written into freelance contracts. So that they get into writing when and how much they shall be paid.

Typically, freelancers create payment plans depending on

  • Services freelancers offer
  • Hourly pricing
  • Project pricing
  • Milestones

If you don’t make it crystal clear what your pricing is in your contract, then you could find yourself chasing the payment. This chasing is a complete waste of your time as a freelancer. Instead, you should be working on the next contract.

When freelancers use accounting software, they can create invoices sent directly to the client. Then when the payment is made, it’s added straight to the freelancer’s accounts. This ultimately saves freelancers time whilst staying in the knowledge that they’ve been paid for their work.

invoice templates for freelance contract

Grab the free invoice templates by clicking the image above so that you can get peace of mind that you’ll get paid.

In A Nutshell,

Without a freelance contract, you could find yourself in real trouble. You can find yourself with a completely unhappy client. Even worse, you don’t get paid a penny for your hard work. Get billing software free for 3 months and will help you get your payments easier and faster.