Terms of engagement template for freelancers

Most people who have worked as freelancers for a while will have a story about a client who never paid. Often freelancers just do not have the time to think about getting a lawyer or writing a contract. Indeed the costs of getting a lawyer involved usually outweigh the risks for most freelancer engagements.

However many times, all the freelancer needs is that the client understands how they roll: the terms of how they engage. To avoid getting burned, I require my clients to either prepay the hours or sign my terms of engagement.

My terms of engagement template is written in plain clear English, with little/no room for ambiguity or misunderstanding, and without the legal jargon that makes legal agreements harder to understand.

The template is intended for freelance software developers and small companies. But they might also be useful, with some edits, for freelancers of other skills and industries, such as designers, architects, musicians, project managers, artists, even tradesman perhaps.

View the terms of engagement template for freelancers on Google Docs

Creative Commons Licence

Feel free to copy, edit, use, distribute and share the template!

Terms of engagement template for freelancers by Bevan Rudge is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Great template!

I am a website builder and I manage hosting for my clients, (I am not a coder) so my situation may be different from yours.

I write up a fairly detailed Scope of Work for my clients, which includes my time and price estimate for the work. This Scope includes a project schedule.

For me to start the work, the client must sign the Scope and pay 1/3 of the estimated price. The second stage of the project is my developing and theming their site... with limited content. Once this goes up on a dev server for them to look at, they pay the second 1/3. When we decide to "go live" with the site on my dedicated server, they pay the remaining portion of the invoice. In my agreement I include the stipulation that if they are ever more then 2 weeks lat on an invoice I will shut down their site. That gets them paying PDQ!

Thanks again Bevan for an always educational and interesting blog.