Contracts for Creatives

Amy represents a number of freelancers and entrepreneurs that want to take charge of their business affairs by insisting upon fair and clear project parameters.

Following are Amy’s five basic tenets of contract drafting for project-based creative work:

  1. Take pains to clearly define the scope of the project. If the scope changes, so should the fee.
  2. Set reasonable deadlines for milestones that allow for the unexpected. Make sure the milestones themselves are clearly defined, including a precise description of the deliverable(s) required at each stage.
  3. Identify who owns the work that is created. If the work is not owned by the creator (i.e., work for hire), consider requesting a license back as necessary (e.g., portfolio use).
  4. Specify a payment schedule and method of payment. Take into account the possibility that you or the project could be terminated, and provide accordingly (e.g., negotiate a so-called “kill fee”).
  5. Spell out what happens if something goes wrong. For example, if the client doesn’t pay, do you have the right to charge interest? Can you stop work (and extend your deadline accordingly)? What if the client doesn’t timely provide you with the materials that you need to begin work?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what needs to be taken into account when drafting a services contract, but it should give you a sense of the types of provisions that are helpful for a creative professional to have in his/her/they agreements with clients.

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