melanie johnston writer

Signing A Freelance Writer's Contract: A Helpful Manual For Rookies

For those who reside in the world of freelancing, they must be willing to take on a number of tasks that would normally be taken care of by someone else at a bigger company. Many of these tasks are not part of the freelance creative process, but instead are more tedious and boring, left-brain paperwork. Freelance writing contracts are one such example of these kinds of tasks. It is essential that freelancers have an excellent contract in place that protects them because they don't have an in-house legal department to turn to if something goes wrong. Here is what you need to know:

Basic stuff

Every contract that you sign should contain information on who is hiring you and for which type of work. Basically you are looking for the definition of the entire job. This information is generally found in every contract, but double-check to make sure that it includes all of the needed details. Keep it simple but make sure that your role is clearly defined. Be specific about what you are not willing to do.

Turnaround time

This section should include how long you have to complete the project. Keeping the timetable of the client in mind is important, but also give yourself a reasonable amount of time to finish the work.


This section should explain how you will deliver the final work and it which format ( PDF, Word, ZIP, etc.). If you do not send the project in the format that was asked for, depending on how savvy your client is, they may not be able to open it. This just creates needless work for you.

Copyright rights

This is vital information to have included. This way you know upfront whether your name will be on the writing, and whether or not you can use it as part of your portfolio.

The Financials

Make an agreement with the client on either the cost of the job or salary per hour and make sure it is written into the contract. Make sure that the amount is stated explicitly. When possible to do so, come to an agreement with the client on a deposit before work begins. This will protect both of you. Also be certain that the contract contains a cancellation clause and the terms of such.

Alterations and revisions

Commit in the contract to the number of revisions that your fee will cover. It is also a good idea to put in the dollar amount of revision charges in case the client goes over.