How to Write a Contract for Freelance Work

A freelance contract is a legal document. It describes the terms of an engagement between a freelancer and a contractor. Both parties need to agree, which will enable the project to succeed. Many variables can go wrong in a business engagement. A freelance contract covers such situations.

Why is a freelance contract essential?

A freelance contract is an outcome of a well-thought process. Disagreement between a freelancer and his client is typical. Humans are susceptible to misunderstandings. The contract document provides directions on when such a disagreement happens.

A freelance contract provides a legal binding between the freelancer and his client. It also protects both of their interests.

Freelance Contract

Must have clauses in the freelance contract

  1. Freelancer, client, dates, and contact information
  2. Scope of work
  3. Deliverables
  4. Payment information
  5. Project schedule
  6. License and copyrights
  7. NDA and non-compete terms
  8. Indemnity clause
  9. Termination terms
  10. Documents enclosed

We will go through these clauses in detail below.

1. Freelancer, client, dates, and contact information

Like any legal document, start with the parties involved. Give the official names of all the parties involved. You should include the agreement date, when it becomes active, and when it will expire. You should also have the contact details of the freelancer and contractor.

2. Scope of work

I want to resist calling out one clause as an important one because all the clauses listed are essential for the contract. But still, the scope of work is first among the equals and describes what this engagement is all about. It gives a detailed description of the freelance work.

The scope of work (SOW) will be a separate document in a standard service scenario and large projects. This will be part of the freelance contract in the freelance context. You should give your most attention and describe every aspect of the work in detail.

3. Deliverables

Every freelance project will have a deliverable. Whether a freelance writing assignment, a graphic design project, web development work, a photography gig, or a video editing freelance work, all have deliverables. Any freelance work has one or more deliverables. Please list all the deliverables in the freelance contract.

Freelance Contract Contents

4. Payment information

What are the terms for payment? Please answer payment-related questions in this contract section.

  • What amount are you going to pay the freelancer?
  • In how many installments will you make the payment?
  • Are the prices tied to project milestones or phases?
  • How much is the advance amount?
  • What are the payment mode and currency?

5. Project schedule

A freelance project should have a detailed schedule, as it will help to track the progress. It will be helpful for both the freelancer and the contractor.

Work breakdown structure should be the foundation of the schedule. Each task item should have an estimate and delivery time unit.

Freelance projects come in all sizes. Like an hour of work, to work that spans a few months. When a job is too tiny, you can leave a detailed project schedule out of the freelance contract. Work deliverable in a few hours or days qualifies as small. Only the work start and end dates are enough in such a scenario.

6. License and copyrights

This clause of the freelance contract describes who owns the outcome of the work: the end product, deliverables, and licensing details. For example, if you are a freelance graphic designer, you may create images as part of your freelance work. You need to have proper licensing terms for all those artifacts that emanate from work.

You may use the client's name and brand identity in the testimonials, portfolio, and similar places for marketing purposes. You should call out if there are any restrictions for such usage in this part of the freelance contract.

7. NDA and non-compete terms

A client may pass on various information to the freelancer as part of the freelance work. Describe terms about how the freelancer should handle this information in this clause. The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) will usually be a separate document. The freelancer may sign the NDA during the pre-sales stage itself.

Clients may ask freelancers to refrain from working with their competitors following the project. You may include domain, duration, and similar information in the contract's non-compete clause.

8. Indemnity

What happens if the freelancer or the contractor goes against each other? If the freelancer or the client violates the contract, this clause of the agreement describes:

  • Who covers the risk?
  • What will be the terms for a refund?
  • Who will bear the losses, etc.?

9. Termination terms

Every agreement should have terms to stop the contract for the parties involved. Contractors may not like the progress of the work made by the freelancer. Mutual relationships may not go in a positive direction.

Many things can go wrong in a deal. Plan for the worst. Work towards the best.

Certain events may trigger dissatisfaction. It may prompt the contractor to press for the cancellation of the freelance contract. Examples of such events are failure to meet milestones and poor quality in the deliverables. Describe how both parties deal with such a situation in this agreement clause.

10. Documents enclosed

Following are the documents you can attach to a freelance contract. These documents add credibility to the agreement. It will give confidence to the parties involved. Government-issued documents add to the trust.

  • Business registration certificate.
  • Identity proof.
  • Address proof.


A freelance contract is mandatory for freelancers and contractors. It is not a one-sided document to help one of the parties. It is for the protection of all the people involved. A well-written freelance contract is a critical element in the success of a project and will enable the freelancer to build trust with his client.

Writing it in the simple and concise language would be best. As a freelancer, do not go for incomprehensible legal terms. Keep things simple. Focus on words that will enable project continuity and work success. Remember, this freelance contract is for all the parties involved. So make sure that everyone signs the contract.

About Joe Kulandy

Joe Kulandy

Joe is the founder of He loves web application development and is a full-time freelancer. He has a passion for web UI UX design. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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