Tuesday, August 9, 2011

STEP 9 of 10: Prepare Legal Forms And Documents

While a contract may seem like overkill especially on small projects it is always good to have the parameters of the job in writing. If a client wont sign your contract it's a clear red flag.

There are several terms used to describe the types of forms and documents that you may use during your freelance career including: contract, agreement, work order, purchase order, terms and conditions, code of ethics, non-disclosure, invoice, proposal, estimate worksheet, etc. I wont get into detail on every possible form or document that you could use as a freelance graphic designer. However, I will introduce you to what you absolutely must have in place with every client and project and that is a purchase order.

A purchase order should include the following information:

  • buyer contact info
  • designer contact info
  • date
  • PO number
  • job number
  • job description(s)
  • estimate of the job(s)
  • expiration date for the PO
  • terms and conditions*

*The terms and conditions should include (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Payment Schedule 
  • Reproduction of Work and/or Ownership of Artwork
  • Expenses
  • Rejection/Cancellation of Project
  • Acceptance of the Agreement

Keep in mind that any form or document will need to be made your own. So don't simply copy and paste an example of an agreement. Take the time to figure out what works best for you.

For a more in depth look at forms and documents as well as pricing and other guidelines make sure to pick up a copy of The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

Also, be sure to communicate with the client that the deposit (if you require one) and the signed agreement is required prior to the execution of the project. The point is to get the client to sign it so that legally everything is in place if needed. Like I mentioned above, if a client wont sign your contract it's a clear red flag.

MY THOUGHTS: "I've had some clients ask about the status of a project before signing the agreement even though the "rules" were made clear. I simply restated that as outlined in the agreement I would need the deposit and signed agreement prior to starting the project. Also, having an agreement in place gives you some peace of mind – just in case you need to take legal action. Let's hope it never comes to that! –LML

< Step 8: Developing Your Financial Plans – Get Over The Notion That Artists Have To Starve!
Step 10: Ready, Set, Go! – Self Promo! >

For questions on specific topics or if you would like more information on anything related to the above post please feel free to contact me and I will get back to you as soon as possible or if it is a FAQ I will create a new post :) 

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