This article was published on March 2, 2011

5 Design Contract Templates to Get Your Business Started

5 Design Contract Templates to Get Your Business Started
Joel Falconer
Story by

Joel Falconer

Joel Falconer is the Features Editor at TNW. He lives on the Gold Coast, Australia with his wife and three kids and can sometimes be found g Joel Falconer is the Features Editor at TNW. He lives on the Gold Coast, Australia with his wife and three kids and can sometimes be found gaming or consulting. Follow Joel on Twitter.

Freelancers need contracts. Going in without one often ends painfully–freelancers may find their clients have disappeared off the face of the earth, and their checkbook has gone with them. It’s a scenario that is all too common.

Unfortunately, getting a contract together can be pricey business if you go to a lawyer and have one drawn up. While that may be the best way to get a contract that’s tailored for the specifics of your business, there are a bunch of contract templates around the web that you can use while you’re getting started.

1. The Shane and Peter Inc. Contract

“So, when the day comes in which the client understands thing one way and our contract said something else, who is actually correct? Technically our contract is the final word. It is a valuable safety net. But that is its secondary purpose. When it comes down to running a long term healthy business, working with a client is much like being married. It is a long running set of compromises. My wife often says things to me (while I am focused and working) which I never hear. Later when we find ourselves arguing, who is at fault? Is it her fault for thinking I was engaged when I clearly was not? Was it my fault, as I did not take the time to stop what I was doing and giving her my full attention. In one short word: Yes. But does it actually matter whose fault it is? Not really. What is vital is that communication resumes.”

2. The Mayhem Studios Contract

“Before you start any project or do any kind of work. Always get a signed contract and a 50% deposit. A contract protects you and your client from any miscommunications. A 50% deposit insures that the client is serious about working with you. Consult an attorney once you have drafted a contract, to cover all your bases.”

3. The AIGA Contract

“It 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 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 focus of the AIGA Standard Form of Agreement is on those terms and conditions.”

4. The Reencoded Contract

“A good contract is necessary to every freelance web designer. Without a contract, there’s no legal requirement for the other party to pay you upon completion of work (at the very least difficult to prove). Here are important parts to include in your own web design contract.”

5. Andy Clarke’s Contract Killer

“Maybe you’re a gun for hire, a one man army with your back to the wall and nothing standing between you and the line at a soup kitchen but your wits. Maybe you work for the agency, or like me you run one of your own. Either way, when times get tough and people get nasty, you’ll need more than a killer smile to save you. You’ll need a killer contract too.”

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