The most important and essential document a freelance designer should have is a rock solid and reliable contract. The worst thing is though, freelance web designers or graphic designers, especially when they are just starting out, can ill afford the expense of paying a lawyer to draw up a decent contract.
As a possible cost effective solution for you, in this article, we have highlighted some freely available contract sample templates you could use. You are allowed to use the sample in their entirety, by simply filling in the relevant personal, client and project details, and use it as your own. Or, you could use them as a reference when writing your own. Which ever way you choose to use these sample contracts, it is recommended that you still have your contract draft checked by a lawyer. Protect yourselves.
This contract, from Andy Clarke for 24 Ways, breaks through all of the nasty legal jargon and explains in clear and simple English, with a touch of humor, what you should have in your contract and clearly clarifies what is expected of both sides (client and designer).
You can to take all or any part of it to use for yourself, it has a creative-commons attribution share-a-like license.
Contract Killer + Sample (24 ways) →
View the .txt Contract →
This contract has also been written so that there is not too much technical jargon and not full of legal speak. Its for the freelancer who wants something simple, straightforward, that makes sense and doesn't confuse or intimidate in any way. There are no major legal terms in the document at all… it simply does what it’s meant to – lay out the information that the client has supplied [the brief], it says what you’re going to do for them, how much your going to charge and what deadlines there are. Nice and simple.
You can download this contract in either .pdf, MS Office or Open Office formats.
Freelance Web Designer Contract by Eskymo →
This is a great .pdf web design contract that you can download and use to modify to your needs.
There are also some useful proposal, budget, and time-line templates available here in Illustrator format (.ai), they are well worth downloading.
This professional contract does not take a one-size-fits-all approach, and it is not an extensive pre-printed document where you simply fill in the blanks. Instead, this contractual agreement acknowledges that most design firms develop their own custom proposal document for each project and are looking for an appropriate set of terms and conditions to attach to it.
When put together and signed, the custom proposal document and its attached terms and conditions comprise the binding agreement with the client. With this in mind, the new focus of the AIGA Standard Form of Agreement is on those terms and conditions.
AIGA Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services →
These templates, from Sessions College, are in Illustrator (,ai) format which means you can customize the entire document to your personal requirements. To access and download this contract template you do need to signup first (which is a pain, but worth it).
Freelance Design Contracts from Sessions College →
Sample Contract Templates
All of the generic sample contracts below have been written as straight forward ‘copy & paste’ templates. You will need to edit them as per your personal and business needs.