What You Need to Know About Creating an Effective Freelance Writing Contract: Sample Template & Tips

Picture this: You’ve just landed a lucrative freelance writing gig, and you’re excited to get started. You pour your heart and soul into crafting the perfect piece, only to find out later that your client has disappeared without paying you. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, many freelance writers have experienced this nightmare scenario at some point in their careers.

A solid freelance writing contract can be your best defense against non-payment, scope creep, and other issues that can arise when working with clients.

In this article, we will explore the key components of an effective freelance writing contract, provide a sample template for you to use, and offer valuable tips to help you protect yourself and your work. So, if you’re a freelance writer looking to safeguard your interests and ensure a smooth working relationship with your clients, carefully read through.

What Is A Freelance Writing Contract? 

A freelance writing contract is a legally binding agreement that includes all of the terms and agreements of the work arrangement with an independent contractor. 

For companies, this document protects them by providing an assurance that the freelancer will get the job done as stipulated by the deliverables and agreed timelines. If the company has any policies relevant to the arrangement that must be upheld (including the use of equipment, training, protection, or additional compensation), they can specify that in the contract as well. 

For freelance writers, the contracts protect non-payroll workers by providing a guarantee that the contractor will pay them according to their rates, requested currency, preferred payment method, and designated time frame. It also allows freelancers to clarify their expectations for the scope of work, the approvals process, deadlines, and ownership rights. 

A freelance contract typically comes from the client or the company who hired you. It contains basic details such as invoicing and forms to fill out for local and international writers.

Keep reading to find a sample of a freelance contract for further understanding.

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Why Do I Need a Freelance Contract?

Just shaking hands over a contract whether online or offline won’t give you the needed assurance when it’s a new month and you still haven’t gotten paid for the work you’ve done the previous month.

It’s impossible to predict when a freelance relationship may fail. As the employer, you risk your freelancer disappearing in the middle of a project delivering work of poor quality, or arriving late. The terms could be changed on you by a freelancer, or you might discover that there was a misunderstanding and the conditions weren’t clear enough in the first place.

So, here are a few reasons why you need freelance writing contracts

  1.  It protects you if the client decides to ditch you and your content.
  2. Helps you avoid any misunderstandings or communication glitches you may have before you begin a collaboration with a client.
  3. It shows that you are a professional and you mean business when you present a contract to a client.
  4. It helps in getting paid (but not all the time. There are still people who will take advantage of you and not pay you for your work. Having a contract, however, helps lessen this chance).

Think about situations like hiring a creative writer to write stories for your blog daily, or engaging with a freelance web developer to launch your new mobile app. You could hire a freelance social media guru to get your brand identity understood far and wide, or even a freelance CFO to take a look at the accounting books. In all of these cases and more, you’re going to want a contract in place. 

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When Do I Need A Freelance Writing Contract?

You need a freelance writing contract the moment you get contracted for a freelance gig. This contract clearly contains information like the name of the parties involved, what you would be paid, deliverables/scope of work, revision limits, deadlines, and lots more. With this information at your beck and core, it will be easier for the parties involved to work efficiently.

Therefore, the response to the question of when you need a freelancing contract is always. It is usually best practice to have a contract in place before starting any kind of contract, whether short-term or large, as a freelancer.

How to Write a Freelance Contract?

Now that you understand the basics, what should go inside a freelance contract? Here are the 12 key pieces of information that must be contained in a freelance writing contract: 

1. Contact details of the freelancer and client

This contains each party’s complete name, contact information (phone and email), and email address. Usually included are other details like the company’s mailing address and the freelancer’s business number.

2. Project scope

Here, you should describe the work you are hiring the freelancer to do. You’ll want to cover the purpose of the project, the duration of the project, and the number of hours the freelancer is expected to work. You may also list expectations for communication, what the feedback process will look like, and who in the company will be involved in approvals and signing off on work.

3. Equipment and Expenses 

When employed for a certain type of job, freelance writers may need to invest in specialized tools, software, equipment, or training. You should specify in the contract who will pay for those expenses: the freelancer or your business.

Are you a new to freelance writing? find out How Much To Charge For Freelance Writing Rates As A Beginner

4. Deliverables 

This is where you clearly state what you expect the freelancer to do for you.

5. Pricing and rates

This section contains how much the freelancer will be paid, and if they charge a fixed cost, hourly rate, a retainer, or a different payment arrangement. 

6. Payment schedule and options

Here, you will define the payment method, timeline, and currency for paying the freelancer.

7. Deadlines and timeline 

Setting precise timelines in advance can be challenging in many situations. Still, it’s a good idea to include in the contract the start and end dates of the working relationship and the completion dates of the tasks. You could also want to mention if there are any consequences for missing deadlines and whether or not they are flexible.

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This part of the freelance writing contract clarifies who owns the work after completion. In most cases, the freelancer retains the rights to the work until you pay them for it. Once the freelancer receives the payment, he or she cannot use or resell the work to anyone else. 

Define important legal terms and conditions to ensure both the freelancer and hiring manager understand their legal obligations.

10. Early termination and kill fee

This section contains the terms and agreements binding the contract. For example, the contract should cover how the freelancer will be compensated for the work they did so far, in what form they should deliver what they completed, and whether or not the work engagement is formally ending in the event of early termination of the contract.

11. Dispute reconciliation

A jurisdiction or arbitration clause that specifies the course of action to be taken if any party alleges a breach of the contract should be added here. This is particularly crucial if you are working with independent contractors that are situated in different states or nations, as handling the legal system there may be more difficult and costly.

12. Signatures

Both parties must sign the contract for it to become a binding legal document. In other words, the contract is only valid if both parties sign.

Sample of A Freelance Contract

Here’s an outline of how to write a freelance writer contract that you can choose with specifics as necessary. It’s only a rough template, which may have to edit a lot to match the particulars of your project.


[Project name]


I, [name] (“Writer”), agree to provide to you, [client] (“Publication”), the following services:

  • [Description of the work you’re going to write, as already agreed]
  • [Any extra details regarding the scope of the project and what it does and doesn’t include]
  • [Information on the style in which you’ll write – mention a style guide such as AP or Chicago if you’ve agreed on one]
  • [Any other relevant information]

I will deliver the work in the following manner:

  • [Method of delivery – hard copy? Email? Which document format, if digital?]
  • It will be delivered no later than [Deadline].

My fee will be as follows:

  • [Exact fee or rate]
  • [Information on possible additional expenses: will you be charging them for any travel, supplies, shipping fees, etc? If none, specify]
  • Payment will be due [Terms of payment – e.g. within 30 days].

I grant the Publication [First English-Language Serial Rights, or whatever rights you’ve agreed]. [Spell out the copyright terms in more detail, if you think there’s any room for ambiguity]

If you agree to these terms, please sign and date below and return a copy to me, and I will sign as well.

[Signature and date lines]

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What Are The Benefits of Having A Freelance Writing Contract?

There are four important benefits of signing contracts with all of your freelancers that help you avoid conflicts and reap the most value from their talents. 

Avoid misunderstandings 

Parties concerned are better able to comprehend exactly what the work engagement should contain when expectations and requirements are communicated properly to each other. By having this knowledge, you can steer clear of awkward miscommunications that could damage your professional relationship, such as who pays for what and how flexible deadlines are. A well-written contract reduces the possibility of confusion and misunderstanding.

A legally binding agreement signed by both parties means it can be used in court in the event of a breach of contract. This helps ensure you are covered if the freelancer doesn’t deliver the work. It also ensures that you pay the freelancer for their service. 

Show that you work “by the book

Not only do contracts help you build more successful work relationships with companies and freelancers, but they also show external stakeholders (like investors, or the marketplace like WritersGig) that you are doing everything legally and in an orderly manner. Should you undergo a due diligence audit, you can expect that all of your freelance contracts will be reviewed. 

Are There Common Issues Freelance Writers Without A Contract Could Face

If you work for yourself or as a freelancer, you may already be aware of how important it is to have a contract. However, many people claim that since they’ve never experienced issues, they don’t require one. Regretfully, until they encounter problems, most freelance writers don’t consider getting a contract before an issue pops up. Here are a few problems you can run into without a contract:

  • Non-payment
  • Projects with no bounds and scope creep
  • No way to enforce what was discussed
  • Additional legal ramifications and liability
  • Long and unnecessary legal battles

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Common Mistakes To Avoid In Freelance Writing Contracts

As a freelance writer, you need to know the errors to avoid when writing, negotiating, and signing contracts. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not putting everything in writing: Verbal agreements can be tricky most times and also difficult to enforce, so it’s important to write everything ranging from project requirements, and deadlines, down to payment terms.
  2. Not specifying intellectual property rights: Make sure the writing contract clearly spells who owns the rights to the work you produce, and how it can be used. This will help protect your work and ensure you get proper credit and compensation at the end.
  3. Not including a termination clause: A termination clause is always vital in every contract. It is usually brought to use when things don’t go as planned. The termination clause should contain the circumstances under which the contract can be terminated, and what happens to any work already completed.
  4. Not discussing payment terms: Be clear about your rates and payment terms upfront, and make sure they’re included in the contract. This will help prevent misunderstandings or disputes later on.
  5. Agreeing to unrealistic deadlines: Be honest about how much time you need to complete the project, and make sure the client understands the timeline. Agreeing to unrealistic deadlines can lead to rushed work and poor quality.
  6. Not seeking legal advice: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the contract, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice before signing. A lawyer can help you understand the terms and protect your interests.

You may help make sure that your contracts for freelance writing are reasonable and safeguard your rights as a writer by avoiding these typical blunders. Never forget to be transparent in your communication with clients, to obtain legal counsel when necessary, and to bargain if the conditions aren’t fair or reasonable.

FAQs On Effective Freelance Writing Contract

What should be included in a freelance writing contract?

Include the names of the parties involved along with their contact information. Deliverables and responsibilities. Describe the project, including information about any extra responsibilities you need the writer to do (such as posting or adding images). Payment information.

How do I market myself as a freelance writer?

To effectively sell yourself, you must understand your unique value proposition, develop a strong online presence, network with potential clients, produce a professional portfolio, use social media to advertise your services, keep up with industry updates and trends, and cooperate are all crucial to successfully marketing yourself as a freelance writer.

Should I quit the job I hate to go full-time freelance?

Don’t quit if you don’t have experience, or clients lined up, or are a trust-fund baby. Okay, that last one is kind of a joke but seriously, make sure you have some money in the bank before pursuing freelancing full-time.


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