3 Things You Must Include in Your Copywriting Contract

A formidable long-horned bison protecting her calf, representing a good copywriting contractHey there, freelance copywriters! Welcome to the next video in the how to start an SEO copywriting business series.

Today, Heather elaborates on last week’s video (on the necessity of having a freelance copywriting contract) with three crucial things you want to include in your copywriting contract.

While she is not an attorney and this video post doesn’t constitute legal advice, Heather has been reading copywriting contracts for a very, very, very long time!

In the course of her career, she has seen some excellent, airtight contracts as well as some that leave the copywriter wide open to litigation, not getting paid, and other bad things.

So tune in to find out what three stipulations you want to be absolutely certain are covered in your copywriting contract…

1. When will you get paid – and how much?

– How much is the deposit, and when is it due?

This first point is the one that all copywriters love and is about the money: when will you get paid and how much will you get paid?  Meaning, you will want to outline things like how much is the deposit?

This subject is covered in some detail in an earlier video, where I discuss the importance of having a retainer. In most cases, that retainer is due before the copywriter starts writing.

– When are other payments due?

If you’re splitting up the payments, then you’ll want to specify the dates those payments are due.

– Consider having all the money on your side of the table before you submit the final page.

For the final payment, consider having all the money on your side of the table before you release that last page or that last group of pages.

Otherwise, what can sometimes happen is that you release the work to the client, and then it takes a long time to get paid. So if you’re paid in full beforehand, you are sparing yourself the worry of chasing down a receivable after you’ve already completed the work.

2. When is a page considered “accepted” and done?

– You don’t want to wait…and wait…and wait for feedback.

We’ve all had this happen: you turn in a page, and then you’re pinging the client after three weeks saying, “Hey, did you receive it? Did you like it? Should I go on to other pages?” So…

– Consider giving your client a set amount of time for review. After that, the content is considered “accepted.”

This protects you and it prevents a gig from going on forever, or a client coming back three months later with, ”Yeah, I’m ready to finish up the contract now – I need it done by this week.”

In my agreement, it’s five business days. After that, the content is considered “accepted.”

Certainly there are exceptions for outstanding circumstances, such as the client being on vacation. You’ll want to accommodate them for that one time, but in general, I think it’s really important to stick to this deadline because it ensures that the client is accountable for checking out your work – in a timely manner.

3. What are you doing for the client?

– Outline your deliverables carefully.

– This helps to avoid “I thought this was included in the price” blues.

This third contract essential is to be really specific about what you’re doing for the client.

I have seen (and heard about) many instances where the deliverables in the contract weren’t defined very well, so the client comes back with “Well, what do you mean you didn’t do keyphrase research? I thought I was paying you for keyphrase research. You wrote the page without keyphrase research?”

It becomes a mess.

To avoid these freelancing blues, outline clearly: “it’s going to be up to three hours of this,” and “we’re going to provide this service,” and “we’re going to write this page with the title and the description.”

Being absolutely clear really helps the client, and it helps protect you as well.

The BEST advice?

Work with an attorney.  Really.

It will cost less than you think.

And save your bacon many, many times over.

I just had a really good conversation with my attorney around a copywriting agreement, and he made a lot of changes that served both my client and me well. Working with an attorney will cost less than you think. It really, really will – and it will save your bacon many times over.

So even if you’re brand new to the freelance copywriting business and you’re struggling to minimize costs, this is one cost that is very much worth incurring.

In short, I highly recommend finding a good attorney, and having him or her help with your agreement!

Thanks for joining me! Have a comment or question about this video? Or a suggestion for a video topic? Wonderful! Just zip me an email via heather@seocopywriting.com, or track me down on Twitter @heatherlloyd.


photo thanks to Tony Fischer Photography 

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2 replies
  1. Nolan Wilson says:

    Thanks for sharing this. These 3 elements can become a huge issue if you do not clearly outline them with your clients before you begin a project. And, its tough to argue these points after you have already submitted the project to your client and are awaiting compensation.


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