TL:DR: You need legal contract templates and disclaimers. Mariam did the work for you. Check out her store here.

So you know you need a contract with most of your freelance clients. But you get tripped up when the client provides you with their contract.  I know you may be concerned about having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars working with a business attorney to create a template you can use now and in the future.

Here’s the good news. Just listen to this episode of the Advanced Freelancing podcast with my amazing guest. She has a background as a freelancer and as a practicing attorney.  And she has templates that are available for you to download and easily customize to your freelance business.

But even if you’re not yet ready to purchase the template, you’re going to learn a lot from her about what to look for in contracts, what things can be negotiated, and what terms and contracts should never be taken out. No matter what, today’s guest is Mariam Tsaturyan, a licensed and practicing attorney in the United States.  She also blogs full time.  And she realized that there was a real need for legal guidance for bloggers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.

Why Do Freelancers Even Need Contracts?

Mariam loves helping out others to avoid mistakes, especially when it comes to legal matters because many people ignore just how important it is until it’s too late. And she’s created several products to help freelancers and entrepreneurs stay legally compliant. You can find information about her store in the show notes for this episode, which will be at betterbizacademy.com/podcast.

Mariam goes into a great amount of detail into common mistakes that freelancers make with contracts, ones that you can’t afford to make, and some of the other legally required materials you need to have if you’re using a website. So that’s important. It’s often overlooked.  But you can bundle a lot of those templates in together to get website disclaimers and other relevant policies in addition to contract templates you can use again and again that are perfect for your freelance business.

I hope you love this episode of the podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of the Advanced Freelancing podcast. This is probably one of the most requested topics. And something that I get the most questions about with the freelancers that I work with one on one.  It’s also a sticking point for new freelancers who are just getting started and are either being provided contracts by their clients or get stuck on this whole idea of ”I don’t have a contract I’m not making money yet should I pay an attorney to create one when I don’t have any revenue.”

So my guest today is Miriam and I am so excited to talk to her because she’s got expertise in the freelance world and with contracts.  We’re going to talk a little bit about what you should know about contracts and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls.

How did Mariam’s shop come about?

By profession, Mariam is an attorney. So she was just a regular practicing attorney initially. And then some family issues came up.  She has a son. And she had to make a decision to stay home and raise him. And they didn’t have anybody helping them at that time.  So that is how the whole idea of starting the blog and starting the shop was created. She actually started as a freelancer.

So what kind of freelance work were you doing when you first got started? Was it legal or something?

She started off as a freelance writer and was doing legal freelance writing for other attorneys.  That was her way of making money initially as a way to contribute to the family finances since She was home now and she wasn’t working anymore.

This is so cool!  Because that’s 99% of what I write for my clients and I very rarely come across anyone who has done legal writing for other attorneys. It is not an over-saturated niche, which is kind of good when you’re doing it. But it’s definitely not something that everybody wants to do.

But she obviously has the perfect background to be speaking about contracts. She’s worn that hat as a freelancer and she’s an attorney. So this is something that just trips a lot of people up this whole idea of presenting contracts to a client or what to look for when a client gives you a contract that they want you to sign.

Why do you think most people get confused over contracts with freelance work?

Mariam says that this is true for any profession, not necessarily freelance writers. But for some reason when they hear the word contract, whether it’s the person hiring you or it’s the actual freelance writer, they get booked.

She thinks they don’t understand that the contract is there to protect both sides. When they hear contract, they think it’s going to be favoring one side over the other. Whereas a good contract should be a balance of both. So she thinks that’s where it’s coming from because they think they’re going to be at a disadvantage if there is a contract instead of looking at it as a positive thing that’s gonna put everything in writing and clear terms so there’s no misunderstanding later on.

I think one of the other common misconceptions along with that is that most clients, at least in my experience, expect you to negotiate something if it’s in the contract, and it’s questionable. So you don’t necessarily have to just sign the document as is.

Do you think that there’s any harm in asking for adjusting things inside the contract as an entrepreneur or freelancer?

It’s been my experience that if I see something that’s unreasonable, I’ll ask to have it taken out. And I don’t think I’ve ever had an occasion where the client didn’t take it out. I was curious to hear Mariam’s perspective.

Mariam said not at all!  Contracts are all about negotiating and compromise. Mariam said that there are certain kinds of policies and rules that you just have to abide by if they’re part of the law. But as far as the actual terms of the contract, what’s expected of you what you have to do, what you want to do, and compensation deadlines, all of that these are things that should be negotiated between the parties.

There is no one size fits all approach. That’s why when contracts are created, you can’t just have one ready made contract and have the client sign because otherwise everybody would have the same exact agreement.

There’s always room for negotiation. And you should definitely negotiate, if something is unreasonable, or if it doesn’t seem fair.  Always raise that issue with the client or the clients can raise that issue with you if it’s in your agreement.

Exactly. And I think that a lot of people feel like the contract has been presented, this is what I have to sign. These are what the terms are. But if you’re working with a company as a freelancer, their legal team or their attorney for their business has probably drafted that contract for them. And of course, it’s going to favor them as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean those are the terms you have to agree to.

And I really encourage freelancers to read between the lines on any contracts that are presented to them by clients.  Because there’s a lot of things that could show up that you’re agreeing to that you don’t necessarily realize you’re agreeing to at that point in time.

Mariam said if you pay attention, generally any proper does have a clause in there that says this is the final agreement and it can only be changed or added to by the agreement of both parties. So the option is always there. If something’s bothering you, if something’s not sitting right with you, you can always raise the issue with the employer or the person who hired you.

But of course, it’s always a better idea to read everything very clearly and carefully before signing it.  Because it’s a lot easier to change things before you sign them, rather than after the fact.

Yes, that’s totally true. And it’s also fine to ask if there’s something where you’re not sure exactly what it means.  When I signed my contract with my literary agent when we first started working together, there was one line in there that just the way the language was presented to me made it sound as though I was signing away from my life that any book I ever sold had to be sold to her.  And I was like, ”Is that what that saying?” And she said, “No, but let’s change the language so that you’re totally comfortable that we’re only working together for this one book.”

When I do major contracts or like when I did my contract with the publishing house, I paid an attorney to look over that, make edit requests and come up with some things that could potentially be negotiated.  Because sometimes we’re in over our head.  Especially if you’re with a big company that’s a fortune 500 or something and you’re coming on as a freelancer.  They might have a pretty extensive contract!  You want to make sure that you fully understand everything.

So on that note, what are the key elements of a contract that are most important for freelance projects?

I have a feeling it’s probably deadline, pay revisions, and ownership of copyright. What are the other things that freelancers should be aware of when either creating their own contract to give to clients or signing a client’s contract?

One of the key sections of a freelancer agreement contract that Mariam always urge her clients to pay attention to is the services provided and the services not provided or not included section in the agreement. Specifically this last section, services not included, can get overlooked because a lot of people don’t cover that. They just put down what kind of what services are going to be provided and that’s that.

They forget to kind of go over the services that are not going to be provided. And one thing that Mariam has  noticed is when you talk about the services provided, many people tend to put down freelance writing or writing an article on blog topic for client.  They put it very generally.  There are no details or bullet point details as to what that articles entails. For example, how many words is it? What topic is it on? Does it require you to do sons social media work or any promotional work? Do you have to do any revisions on it? How many revisions do you have to do? These are details that are important needs to be stated explicitly in the services provided section.

And then, at least to Mariam, she thinks what’s more important is services not provided or not included in the agreement. Because when you don’t mention something specifically, a client can keep asking you to do it even though you didn’t agree to it beforehand. And especially if you’re a beginner freelancer, and you haven’t established yourself in the market yet, you might be willing to go along with anything at that point.

But when you clearly state what’s not going to be included in the agreement, then you’re very much limited your services and you’re putting a price that. You are saying, ”If you want this, it is an additional negotiation or additional pay that we need to agree on beforehand.”

Obviously, a deadline is very important. And deadlines needs to be very detailed also. So you need to take into account that the length for finishing the project and then the deadline for delivering the work. So if there are any revisions in place was the absolute last day that the client needs to have this work with them so everything can be ready for publication. You have to have in mind your own deadlines and you have to have in mind the client’s deadlines.  And make sure that you’re leaving enough wiggle room in there not to get into trouble.

This is one of those points that you need to negotiate with the client or the person who’s hiring you very carefully because you don’t want to go back to this client later and ask them for more time because you didn’t prepare in advance.  And you don’t want the client to come to you and suddenly say,“Oh, now you don’t have one week, you only have two days.” You want to make sure everything’s there so that you’re covered.

Those are great points. And I feel like the contract is your final chance to make sure that you and the client are on the same page.

Because this becomes your written document that you can refer back to when clients try to do things like expand the scope of the project beyond the terms that you agreed to.  It becomes the way beyond the verbal agreement when you can go back and say like, “Hey, if you go and check out page two of the contract we signed, we clarified that these blog pieces were 1000 words each, so an additional rate of blah, blah, blah, you know, 100 words will apply because you want me to make edits and make them 1500.”

Clients sometimes forget too.  Especially if they’re new to working with freelancers or if they have never worked with freelancers. So when you send over your contract, and that’s what I’m taking away from what Mariam said, is to be as specific as possible when you send that over.

That’s their final chance to review it and say, “Yes, we’re on the same page about all the details in this project. And if we’re not, then let’s read rework through the rates and come up with a new version.”  It becomes a lot harder for a client to argue that they were under the impression that you were going to provide something that you never were when you have that in writing.

I love having things in writing, because kind of takes the pressure off of you and saying, “Well, hey, we talked on the phone that I was going to spend three hours on this project.” And if you have something like that in writing, it’s a lot easier to just say, “Oh, per our conversation, per our contract.”  It gives you more of a ground to negotiate from.

It gives you the ability to call them out if necessary because some clients, whether intentionally or not, they will take advantage of the fact that you didn’t get specific enough. They may be like, “Well, you said you would do blog writing. And so I was thinking that was 16 blogs a month with unlimited revisions.” And it’s like, “Well, you know, our contract doesn’t really say anything beyond that.” So now, it weakens the whole relationship. Because from there, the client is upset and you’re upset. It’s very hard to repair that relationship. It’s so much easier to just start off on the right foot and say, “These are the terms we both agree to it.”

Another one that comes up a lot is this idea of an escape clause or a kill fee.

This usually applies to bigger projects like a website designer building an entire website or a writer is working on a book or a really big piece. The whole idea behind it is, if the client decides not to do the project, for any reason, the freelancer is owed a certain amount of money, usually a flat fee or a percentage. What do you think about these kind of kill fees or escape clauses that allow clients to get out of contracts and what should freelancers know about those?

Mariam said this kind of falls under the right to terminate. The person who hires you always has the right to terminate the project. However, if you’ve done any work for that project, doesn’t matter whether you’ve completed the work or not, then you have to get compensated. Mariam thinks freelancers in general have to get in the right mindset. That’s their business. They’re a  business owner, and any service that they provide should be compensated.

You don’t expect any brick and mortar business to provide you any free services. That never happens. So you have to protect your rights. You have to come to an agreement in advance when it comes to that. If a client decides not to go ahead with the project or if they decide to terminate it before you’re finished with the project, you either have to have a flat fee that they have to pay you. Something like a deposit that the client gives you in advance for the work.

This is up to you how you want to negotiate it with the client, how you decide to word your contract, and how you work. Some people decide to work on flat fees before the project starts based on a percentage.  For example, the client may have to give you a $200 deposit for this project. And if the project is terminated, you get to keep that. It’s non refundable amount. And if it’s not terminated, then it counts towards the total.

You can also work with a percentage.  You’ve acquired a certain amount, in advance, or even as you’re working, if you can itemize basically the amount of work that you’ve done.  You would have to figure out the percentage of work that you’ve done and you need to be compensated, then you put that down. For example, like, “Okay, he’s terminated this project, but at this point, I have completed 65% of this project, and 65% of this amount that we’ve agreed on. You need to compensate me for that.” Specifics will depend will be up to the individual freelancer as to how they decide to work. But there absolutely needs to be some kind of clause in their contracts, protecting them against such outcomes.

I think for some of you listening who might not have ever seen something like that in the contract, you might be wondering, “Well, why would we have a clause in there about canceling the contract because my intention is to work with this client from the beginning of it until the completion? That’s what I quoted for that’s what I expected.” So what you’re doing with these kinds of clauses is protecting yourself in the event that there are circumstances outside of your control or possibly even the clients control where you’ve done work on the project, but they are deciding to pull the plug on finishing that project for whatever reason. It means that you are not left out in the cold.

I’ve also seen this used when people start working together and then they realize it’s not really a good fit. It’s a fee that the client ends up paying to say, “Hey, this isn’t going to work out. But you know, we were essentially paying a canceling the contract early fee type of thing.” So of course, you don’t want to cancel your contracts with your clients.

But as Mariam mentioned, this helps to protect you if you spent 10 hours working on something for a client, and then they say, “Oh, well, we’re not going to be able to finish this. Our business is closing or something has changed.” You can still be compensated for the work you’ve done.

And that’s probably a case where it makes a lot of sense to do milestones in the contract too.

That’s what I like to do with my clients if it’s something big. It’s like this amount of money is due at every phase.  Then I’ll break down exactly what those phases are. If it’s a book, when the first two chapters are turned in X amount of money is due within 14 days. And that helps you too!, If they were to suddenly cancel the project, you will at least get compensated for the work that you did.

Now, another one that comes up a lot is late fees.

I feel like a lot of freelancers don’t put in their contracts and it ends up costing them paying an administrative time later. It’s important to have a late fee for when the client has not paid their invoice on time.  What do you think about adding late fees and contracts as a as a freelancer? Whether you intend to use them by actually charging the client or as more of a leverage point and saying, “Hey, your invoices late.  It’s been 14 days and for our contract, I’m going to charge you X percent.”

Mariam is all for that. Her freelancer contracts all have late fees in them. And she thinks that’s just good practice to have it. Because number one, as she already mentioned, it speaks of the fact that you’re a business. You’re a service provider and you take things very seriously.

Number two, it serves as a deterrent.

Whether you actually enforce this and charge late fees or not, it serves as a deterrent for the hiring party to not pay you in time. It’s in their best interest to pay you in time because they know that you’re going to keep adding late fees. And Mariam has learned this particular clause the hard way.

She’s an attorney. She should have known better! But when she started out as a freelance writer, after she became a stay at home mom, she did not have this in her agreement. She had a very simple agreement because she figured they were all attorneys and there’s no reason for her to have a very detailed contract. She thought they would respect each other. But that wasn’t the case.

And this late fee became a huge issue for one of her clients. And essentially, if she charged late fees, she would have been owed over $300 or more. But because that wasn’t in her agreement, she never got compensated. So now late fee provision is an absolute must in every contract.

I found that some clients like to give you the runaround.

They’ll say, “Oh, well, it’s in accounting.” And then you contact accounting and that person’s out on vacation for three weeks. Then it ends up being like two months that you’re chasing down a check. And especially if it’s something like $500, it’s a huge waste of your time to have to send multiple emails and make multiple calls.

What I found with late fees is, even when it’s a small amount, even if it’s $25 or 15% of the total amount, people don’t want to pay extra money. And so when you’ve exhausted all your other options, and you’ve contacted all the people, I like to send a reminder a couple of days after it was originally due.  If I gave them some amount of grace period to get things sorted out, I’ll say, “Hey, by the way, in about three business days, I’m going to have to charge a late fee as per our contract. I’m sure this was just a misunderstanding and maybe my invoice got lost in another department. But I just want to give you guys a heads up.” And 9 times out of 10, your invoice gets paid because they don’t want to pay the extra money.

One thing Mariam tends to do with her contracts, when it comes to the fee provisions, whether it’s the late fee, whether it’s invoicing, or the amount that the client needs to pay you for the work done.  At the end of the contract, aside from having the actual signature lines, for these provisions, she puts a small line for initials. Because she wants to make sure that the client read these specific provisions in detail. And she wants to see their initials in front of it.

So she doesn’t want them to come back later and be like, “Oh, yeah, I signed the contract. But I didn’t actually see this provision that you had in there or I skipped over it or skimmed it. I didn’t read it all the way.” She doesn’t want to deal with that. So what she does is she has an initial place in the contract for them to initial specifically for the provisions that have to do with fees. So that way they could come to me and say, “I did read this.”

I love that. And I do the same thing with a piece that I add in my contracts born out of a bad personal experience as well.

I asked my clients to initial that they have read my writing samples and accepted that what they will receive will be substantially similar in tone and style. And that’s the guard against those clients who go, “I just don’t like it.” And they can’t give you any more feedback than that. And it’s like, if you hire me as a writer, I’m assuming that you have already reviewed my writing samples and you like my style. Otherwise you wouldn’t hire me.

But unfortunately, I had one client where that wasn’t the case. And they just didn’t like my writing style. So now I have that in there.  I ask clients to please initial here that they’ve reviewed the samples that I sent them. And then we’re not going to be way off base. Obviously, it’s going to be personalized to that client. But you’re going to see the same things like an Oxford comma, adverbs, and other things about how I write so you can’t complain about it after the fact.

So I love that and I love the idea of having them initial and call attention to it.  A lot of this goes back to protecting yourself.

So when somebody says, “Oh, I didn’t read that, Oh, I didn’t know that. Oh, well, I thought you meant XYZ.” The contract is the gold standard to be able to go back to. Because above any conversation you’ve had or any misunderstanding to say, “Well, hey, our contract says that this project was $1,000. And you initial next to the late fee section, which is 15%. And so now we are 10 business days past it being due per the contract.”

You have a lot more ground to stand on in that type of position when you have called it out and made them sign it. And again, remember that whatever clauses you put in your contracts, the client might try to negotiate those two. So be prepared for that. You’re not going to have unreasonable clauses in your contract. But if you did, be prepared that the client might bring that up.

Speaking of that, when it comes time for negotiation or compromise, there are certain clauses that no matter how much the client wants to negotiate for you to remove it from the agreement, you shouldn’t and a late fee is one of them.

For example, you can negotiate on the amount of late fee that you’re charging. Let’s say you’re charging $35. And the client says, “Let’s make this $25.” That’s reasonable. But if the client says, “Remove the late fee provision from the agreement.” To Mariam, that’s a red flag. She would not do that. Because that plans right off the path is telling you that they’re going to be late. She wouldn’t want to deal with that.

And that’s a really good point. What other clauses would you say are in a contract that should stay in no matter what even if you negotiate the finer details?

Mariam said intellectual property and ownership of intellectual property or copyrights/trademark depending what you do as a freelancer.  And since you are a freelancer, your work is yours. You own the intellectual property. And you own the copyright on the trademark.  There’s only very limited situations where if you do something and it can be considered a work for hire when the employer or the hiring party would own the copyrights to that. But it’s very rare.

There are a whole bunch of requirements that you have to satisfy before you can be considered a work for hire freelancer. Therefore, a lot of the time you own your work. And if the client wants to own the copyright, if the client wants to have exclusive rights, and be the owner of copyright, be the owner of trademark, then that’s an additional term that you have to have in your contract. You have to make it very clear to the hiring person and say, “Hey, I own this!”

For example, they had you write a piece or they had you design a website or whatever it is that you’re doing as a freelancer. You own the copyright to that.  And you sell them an exclusive license to use it.  You’re not going to sell that same thing to another person. And it won’t be ethical either since the client paid you for that. But you own the intellectual property to that work. And if the client wants to own the intellectual property, whether it’s copyright or trademark, then you have to make room in your contract for additional compensation so the client cannot own the IP for the same amount of price that they’re paying you to get the work done.

Let’s say you wrote a $2,000 blog post, or you wrote a book for them, or whatever you did for them. And they paid you let’s say, $2,000 or $3,000.  There’s no way that the client will own the intellectual property to that work for that same amount. So there has to be some form of additional compensation if the client wants to own the intellectual property as well.

That’s a really interesting point because I had not thought about it in that way.

It’s not automatic.  And 99% of what I do is ghostwriting work. And we have it listed in the contracts that the copyright goes to the client. And the rate includes that. Where I see a lot of people getting tripped up with that is, let’s say you do have that clause in there where they’re being paid because they’re going to own the intellectual copyright.

One thing you want to clear up with your clients is whether or not you still have permission to share that as a work sample. I think that comes up a lot with ghostwriters where companies don’t really want to divulge that they’re working with somebody else to write their content. That it’s not their CEO or their marketing manager. And you don’t want to be directing other potential clients to that work saying, “Oh, hey, I wrote so and so’s website or I wrote that book for somebody.” if you don’t have permission to share that as a work sample.

So I’ve seen some contracts specifically with book ghostwriters as well where it will say that your name is not going to be on the front of the book because you’re the ghost writer. But if you are in the negotiation phase with another potential ghostwriting client, and they’re looking for references, that person is willing to receive a phone call and say that they worked with you. In some cases, you’re allowed to share part of the manuscript for what you worked on. But that’s something you want to clarify for sure.

In this particular case of ghostwriting falls under a different category when it comes to rights and intellectual property and ownership.

Because ghostwriting, the theory behind it is that the client pays you.  Ghostwriters get paid higher than regular freelancers because the amount of money that they get for that project kind of includes the ownership of the intellectual property. The whole idea behind it is you write it, but to the outside world, it’s as if I wrote this piece which means they own the rights

This is one of those situations where you do have to put your negotiator hat on and try to come to an agreement with the client. Because when you do go throughit, the client is completely within their rights to not agree to let you share the piece that you’ve worked on. Whether it’s a book, whether it’s an article,  or whatever it is, because it’s a ghost written project.

When you’re ghostwriting, you have to be a little more understanding as a freelancer of the client

because they’re pretending to the outside world that it’s their piece. And if they don’t want you to be able to showcase that, then that’s within their rights. But obviously there are ways of approaching that.  Maybe you can make some concessions. You can say, “I’m not going to reveal a name. I’m not going to reveal a company. Can I just show like a small section of this work without disclosing who it’s from?”

From Mariam’s experience, some are willing to do that. Some are willing to let you showcase it as a work product or a sample of your a piece of your portfolio for later projects. But at the same time, a lot of them aren’t willing to do that. And unfortunately, there’s not much that can be

done with that.

That’s a really good point and important distinctions to consider all with relation to intellectual property and what you can share and what the differences are with ghostwriting versus other types of freelancing.

So I know Mariam has quite a few templates.

I know she has an online store with different contracts. I asked if she would mind walking through some of these different templates that might be applicable to freelancers. Because I know it’s not just contracts. A lot of us have websites. And I know she’s got some of the important and legally required things that we need to have on our websites and other marketing locations.

To begin with the simplest of things, if you have a website, Mariam said you have to have a privacy policy, that’s non negotiable. And with the current laws, your privacy policy must be GDPR compliant. And now your privacy policy has to be CCPA compliant.  That’s California Consumer Privacy Act.

If you have any kind of monetization going on your site like ads or if you have affiliate relationships with different companies or even people, then you want to have a disclaimer. If you’re a freelance writer, for example, you still want to have a disclaimer because you want to make some kind of disclaimer in there that these are work products.  These are your work samples. You cannot make any guarantees.

And especially in a situation if you have testimony on your site, let’s say you’re a freelancer who has a portfolio and then you maybe have some testimony by a few satisfied clients who said that they loved your work, or you were the best writer they hired. So you want to have some kind of on time warranty or anti guarantee clause in there and your disclaimer policy that says that it’s not guaranteed that they will get the same absolute results as the other people who gave you testimonies. Each person’s satisfaction is dependent on different factors.

A lot of freelancers fail to have this. A lot of professionals fail to have this kind of disclaimer in there. It’s essential because of course then they can come and say, “This person was saying that they took this online course from you, or they read this ebook that you made for them. They followed the steps and they were able to make $5,000 in three months. And your course was saying make $5,000 in a short period of time. Well, it’s been four months, and I still didn’t even make thousand dollars.” I mean, it’s not very often but it’s a possible scenario where somebody could come after you for something like that. So you want to have a disclaimer somewhere in there where you talk about results may vary and  you can’t make any guarantees.  You want to talk about all the different circumstances and situations.

So Terms of Use is not mandatory by law, but it is highly recommended. Especially if you have any kind of products that you’re offering. Service would be considered the product. It’s a service, but it’s still a product. If you have actual things that you’re selling digital items, ebook templates for printables like designs, or anything like that, you want to have Terms of Use where you state your intellectual property rights. Where you specifically state how others will use your services and more importantly, how they’re not allowed to use your services.

So those three policies are kind of a staple bundle policy that every website owner should have. Obviously, they’re going to differ. You’re going to customize it based on your needs, but those three things you should have on your site as a freelancer. Obviously there’s a freelancer legal agreements, the writer agreement, designer agreement, which is all dependent on what you do. This is the more official contracts that we kind of talked about throughout this interview the different clauses that are included sections and all of that.

There’s also something called letter of agreement for freelancers.

This is a lot simpler. And this is a lot less official looking. Iit literally looks like a letter. And the idea behind it is the people or the clients who are spooked by the idea of signing a formal contract, this is for them. Because it still lays out the important terms that you’re supposed to have or pay attention to, but it’s not in as much detail.

Mariam wouldn’t recommend a letter of agreement with somebody that you’ve never worked with before, if it’s somebody who doesn’t have a very good reputation, or you don’t know anything about them.  If that’s the case she would always try to get them to sign an actual law contract instead of this. But if this is your last resort, the letter of agreement is a good, good way to go if the client doesn’t want to sign anything.

Yeah, that’s all really important.

I feel like thinking about some of these other policies that you might want to have, even if you’re at the beginning of your freelance career, is important. Because there’s a good chance that at some point in the future, you’re going to include testimonials on your site. I’m even thinking about when you expand into other things like books and courses,and you’re selling other things., It’s something I recommend to my freelancers. Get that social proof as soon as you can.

But the flip side of that is you have to protect yourself from people who would attempt to use that social proof against you. And so just knowing that you’ve got all the necessary policies out there and that you’ve got a solid contract template is super important.

Where can everyone go to learn a little bit more about you? And what you do?

Mariam’s website is freelanceandmarketing.com. And once you’re there if you’re looking for contracts, you’ll see a tab that says “Legal Shop.” She provides legal audits to people who want to make sure that their websites are properly set up or if they’re being compliant with a certain policy or if they just want me to audit their contracts.

There’s an About section where you can learn a little bit about Mariam.  One thing Mariam wanted to mention is that she’s putting together an entire bundle for different categories of people

like entrepreneurs.  It wasn’t ready at the time of this interview, but she was working on it.  And she was working on an entire bundle for freelancers. It will include all the different policies that freelancers need. It will not necessarily be for a beginner freelancer, because a beginner freelancer pretty much just needs the legal agreements to start with. But as you progress, you might want to hire somebody to help you.

Because you’re a business owner, and you yourself might hire people out for different projects that you get. So, the freelancer bundle is going to have a whole bunch of different agreements, policies, helpful videos, and all of that in there for you to begin with. Basically a bundle that you can get to start your freelancer business the right way and it’s coming up. It’s not there yet, but hopefully by the time this episode is published, it will be available.

Having looked at Mariam’s store, she has a great variety of things to help freelancers get started.

I know some of you are listening and going, she’s an attorney. That means I’m paying hundreds of dollars. I have to contact a business attorney and they’re going to charge me $200 or $300 an hour. Mariam’s contracts and templates and policies are very, very reasonably priced. So this is perfect for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced freelancer.

I know that this is definitely a hot ticket item that I am happy to refer people because I get that question all the time. So it’ll be great to finally have a resource to direct people to. But I just want to thank Mariam so much for coming on the show and providing all of this amazing expertise on what to know about contracts.

Mariam Tsaturyan is a licensed and practicing attorney in the United States, who also blogs full-time. Mariam realized that there was a real need for legal guidance for bloggers, freelancers, & entrepreneurs. She enjoys helping out others, especially when it comes to legal matters because many people ignore just how important it is until it’s too late. For this reason, she created several products to help freelancers and entrepreneurs stay legally compliant.

Want to grab Mariam’s Awesome Templates? Click here.

Affiliate disclaimer: If you click on the link above, I’ll receive a small commission for referring you.

Thanks for tuning in for another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast. For more freelance advice, get a copy of my book Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business—available now! Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more.