Here’s a super important question. Do you have a service agreement? If so, is it a solid service agreement?? If your answer is no to either of these questions, then read on, friend! As a creative entrepreneur who runs your own business, whether it be as a graphic designer, web designer, freelancer, social media manager and the list goes on, your job is to provide a service to a client or company. If you’re lucky, 9 times out of 10 you’re going to end up with awesome clients who make your work easy, painless and dare we say, enjoyable. But every now and then you’re going to come across a client that sorta makes your life a living H-E-double hockey stick. Sadly, that’s the truth of running your own business. The last thing you want is to get duped or ripped off after you’ve put so much time and energy into a project, so in order to cover your bases and go into every project with confidence and maybe even a little bit of excitement, you need to get yourself a solid service agreement. If you’re still uncertain if it’s worth the trouble and you’d rather just cross your fingers and hope for the best, let us change your mind. For reals. Us nerds over here at Foundd Legal have put together a list of 5 benefits of a solid service agreement so you can get a clearer picture of why it’s so important.
One. Project Scope Clarity
The scope of your project is basically everything you’ve planned for the project from goals, deadlines and deliverables to tasks and costs. A solid service agreement lays it all out in detail. You’ll be able to list what your goals are throughout the project and make clear when each item will be completed by. You’ll also be able to solidify how much you’re getting paid and what that payment is for! With this mighty agreement you won’t have to do any extra work without extra pay. If your client emails asking for additional file formats or additional functionality on their website without wanting to pay you more, you can refer them right on back to your agreement. How good is that?
Two. Definitive Payment Terms
This kinda marries in with your project scope clarity. Your service agreement is going to have a lovely little section on payment so you know what you’ll get paid and when you’ll receive your payment. If you want 50% up front and the other 50% after you complete the project, you can add that in here. If you want full payment within two weeks of completion, you’re covered. Whatever you and your client agree upon, put it on paper and sign on the line. It’s so good to know when payment is coming in so you can plan for your celebratory spa day! Or you know, pay the rent. *insert freelancer dance here*.
Three. Defined IP Ownership
First off, let’s clarify what we mean by IP Ownership. Intellectual Property is defined by ipaustralia.gov.au as “ the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. It is a productive new idea you create. This can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand or even the application of your idea.” This idea must also be new or original. That being clear, IP Ownership is owning the rights to these ideas, trade marks, designs and so on. More often than not, if you as a creative design or create this IP, you have ownership of your creation. We assume, if you’re creating a logo for a client, the ownership would be granted to them for the chosen logo for their company. But if you drafted a number of options or came up with other branding ideas, who owns those? Your agreement will specify who will own what so you’ll know what designs or ideas belong to you and what may be passed on to your client in no uncertain terms. The last thing you want is a client pulling that designer rug out from under you. Get. It. On. Paper.
Four. Limited Revisions
Picture this. You’re a kick arse blogger who has a slew of clients coming in. You’re feeling lucky, you’ve worked with some awesome companies and individuals and your word magic is flowing at full force. A single revision comes in here and there. Easy. But then one client writes you and asks for a second revision. Then a third. Perhaps a fourth? Where does the madness end? If you have a solid service agreement you’ll never have to feel this way again. You can put down in the contract exactly how many revisions are included in your fee. And have an additional clause stating any revisions beyond the set number will incur an additional fee. Then you can add what that fee is! All of these nitty gritty details should be in your service agreement. We’ve all cried the 20th revision blues. It ain’t a happy song. Don’t let it happen to you ever again.
Five. Efficient Feedback
Remember that time you sent your client your first draft? When was that? A few weeks ago now? And all they came back with was, “I’m still thinking on it”. That is the worst, amiright!? Don’t get lost in the ether that is a client’s uncertainty! Your agreement can keep you safe, friends. You can easily lock in approval period terms so there is a deadline for when you need a proper response from your client. From there you can also make clear what will happen if your client doesn’t adhere to these terms and meet that deadline. Do what you can to keep your client on track. We’re all busy. You know that. We know that. If you can lock in a proper timeline you’ll be able to guarantee your time hasn’t been wasted, and your client may well appreciate your helping to keep them on task!
Now go be awesome. x
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FOUNDD LEGAL articles are intended to provide commentary and general information only and presented in an informal style. Though we like to keep it real, please don’t rely upon our posts as legal advice. If there is something in one of our articles that speaks to you, reach out for some formal and up to the minute legal advice to properly address and discuss your queries and concerns. We’re here for you!