In this episode Erik talks about whether you should have a formal contract if you do freelance work.
Erik admits that in the beginning of his freelance career he did not have a proper contract. He would email clients a proposal, they would agree are the terms, he would do the work, and then he would invoice them. Later, he became a little more sophisticated. He started printing out the proposals and he would have the client sign them before beginning the work. The simple process worked for him at the time and he never got burned.
As time went on and Erik got more clients and bigger projects, he hired a lawyer to write up a formal contract. Now we have clients sign a proposal, which includes a couple of short paragraphs written by the lawyers to refer to the terms on our company website. It’s a good way to have all the bases covered while speeding up the signing process.
But, the real question is whether you need a contract for your first gigs. As sophisticated as our contract process is now you might be surprised to hear Erik doesn’t think you do. At least not in the beginning. It might cost you thousands of dollars to have a contract written up by a lawyer for a gig that might only make you a few hundred dollars. You might decide you don’t want to continue doing that kind of work, or that you don’t like the terms that were written. It’s a lot of money to spend when you’re just starting out.
The main thing to focus on in the beginning is validating your offering. Get others to hire you, approve of your work, and then get paid for it. The rest will come later.