Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Elements of Business Agreement

Yesterday during a routine check-in with my accountability partner, the subject turned to contract agreements and what should be included. Whenever I visit another writer’s blog or a forum where the topic of discussion is contract agreements, I sit up and listen. It’s conversations like these that have helped me plug the leaky areas of my own agreement.

I use a formal agreement every time I take on an assignment, whereas another writer might be comfortable with casual email quotes. The reason I rely on a more formal agreement is to avoid unnecessary “unpleasantness.” These are just a few topics worth including:

Clearly state the start and end date

Don’t just establish the deadline/due date for the project. Sometimes clients don’t deliver project details until later than expected. If you’ve already lock into a deadline you could find yourself in a time crunch.

Establish Your Payment terms

Do you require a deposit to begin work? Will clients paying less that $X be required to pay for projects upfront in full? What form of payment do you accept? These are all important questions that need to be answered in your agreement.

You may also consider including clauses covering returned check fees (if you accept checks), how quickly the balance should be paid once the final project is submitted, and late payment fees.

Revisions Requests

They happen. Some writers offer their clients unlimited revisions until they say when. I really believe the majority of clients just want their projects done as specified and aren’t out to abuse unlimited revision policies. Still, I vote for capping the number of complementary revisions a clients receives. I’m willing to do more than two if necessary for an hourly fee. I’ve found that the key to reducing the number of revision requests lies in gathering all of the information you need for the project upfront.

I email a brief to my clients that gets to the heart of the project’s objective, target audience, etc. If a client prefers not to complete the form, we discuss it by phone instead. Taking time to do this saves me and my clients valuable time in the long run.

I also recommend stating the different between and a revision and a rewrite if you can.

Material Rights

You’ll definitely want to spell out what rights your client has to any materials you create. I also advise including a clause that states all rights to the materials you create belong to you until the final payment is received.


Lori said...

Great post, Kim. I could add that there's a limit to how many people are involved. If you start out answering to one person then suddenly find six other people marking up your work, you'll never please anyone, least of all yourself!

Totally agree with everything here.

Kimberly Ben said...

Oh, good one, Lori! I need to add that one my own.

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