10 Things to Include in Your Freelance Contract

To avoid confusion with your clients down the road, follow these 10 steps when creating a freelance contract.

10 Things to Include in Your Freelance Contract

So you’ve landed your first freelance client. Congrats! Before you start working, it’s crucial to create an airtight contract that clearly outlines the expectations of both you and your client in the short- and long term.

This contract will define what constitutes an acceptable level of work, along with any penalties or rewards if those expectations aren’t met.

To avoid confusion, wasted time, and arguments with your clients down the road, follow these ten steps when creating your freelance contract to ensure that you have all bases covered.

Name and contact information.

If you are a freelancer, include your name and contact information and your client’s. This way, if any confusion or conflict arises down the line, both parties will have all of their contact information listed.

Also, make sure that you identify which party owns what rights (royalties) for each product or service made available.

Payment details

You’ll want to lay out when and how much you’ll be paid—including whether it will involve an online payment or direct bank deposit.

It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget down payments, late fees, and other details. You also need to make sure your price is listed as non-negotiable.

Such a practice prevents your client from asking for a portion of your fee during future assignments because once something is negotiated, it can no longer be guaranteed by law.


As a freelancer, you should complete deliverables within X days/weeks/months of signing.

For example, if your client is paying for 6 hours of work per week, and you sign a contract on Jan. 1 that runs through Jun. 30, you need to have all deliverables completed by Jul. 31 at 11:59 p.m.

If they aren’t done by that time, then you’ll get paid for however many hours you got done through that date.

It’s also helpful to make clear what happens if one party doesn’t meet their agreed-upon deliverable deadlines; usually, it means some portion of payment gets held back until both parties are satisfied with how things are going.

Milestones Section

Milestones are essential for independent projects, as well as for businesses that hire freelancers. By detailing a project’s milestones, you can ensure that you and your business partners know when to expect key deliverables.

For example, if your deliverable is an infographic by Oct. 20, you should detail it in your contract—or discuss it with your client directly. If no milestone has been agreed upon or discussed before hiring a freelancer, be sure to consult one so that both parties understand what will be happening over time.

Client expectations

Before you enter into a freelance agreement, you and your client must have similar expectations of what’s expected. Please don’t assume they know anything.

Ensure they know what services you provide and how long it will take (for example, if specific tasks are involved, it may take an extra week).

If there are complicated elements to your project, make sure they understand them so both parties are on board with changes or amendments during the process.


In a freelance contract, you’ll want to outline what you agree to do and how it will be done. For example, suppose you’re working on a marketing campaign for your client.

In that case, your deliverables may include creating specific ad copy and content based on your goals, creating logos, designing graphics, and monitoring results.

If any of these things aren’t fully outlined in your contract or are left vague (such as creating an image), that can open up some room for miscommunication down the road or have consequences for non-performance on either party’s part.

You can avoid any hiccups by setting clear expectations upfront.

Intellectual property rights

Many freelancers overlook IP, but your contract should lay out who owns what.

Is it your intellectual property, or does your client have some rights to it? Be sure you understand precisely what you’re handing over and what rights you retain.

It’s a good idea for both parties involved to have their lawyer review a freelance contract before signing on. The last thing either of you wants is disputes and misunderstandings over ownership to break out after a project has been completed, especially if big money is at stake.

If that’s something you need help with, one way to get started would be by contacting organizations like AIGA or seeking legal advice from entities like bar associations.

Data confidentiality

You must not share any information about your client’s business without their written consent.

Confidentiality includes financial data, proprietary information, and other protected details. You should have a clause that prohibits you from releasing any of your client’s personal information without their permission.

And if you feel it necessary to disclose confidential or protected information for legal reasons, make sure that you get your client’s explicit permission before doing so.

Use of materials supplied by the client

Materials are important, as it specifies which assets (e.g., pictures, graphs, etc.) you can use from your client’s company.

It also lets them know you will return these materials when done working on their project. This is not only professional but prevents a lot of hassles later on if you decide to work with that company again in the future.

Termination clause

Before hiring you as a freelancer, many companies have a due diligence period, where they’ll do some research on your background and ask for recommendations from past clients.

This is also when you may be asked to sign something called an Independent Contractor Agreement (IC). The terms of an IC will vary from company to company, but most include language that protects both parties.

A termination clause allows both parties to end a contract without having litigation.


If you are a new freelancer and plan to create an independent company, you must have a contract between yourself and your clients. Before signing on any dotted lines, be sure to look over your contract carefully to know what you agree upon with your client.

There are several questions you should ask yourself before signing a freelance contract. You should also ask for as much information about project deadlines and expectations from your client as possible.

Freelance contract template (free)

At HeyForm, we’ve made a freelance contract template for self-employed folks. Feel free to use it if you plan to create freelance contracts. And for companies, you can create a client contract for free using our free online form builder.