Legal Guide: Contracts

The AWB Firm Legal Guides

Contracts: You have that in writing, right?

Are you doing business with clients or collaborating on projects with other people? You must put your agreements in writing. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to work with a lawyer. Even if you just write up a basic agreement that you both sign, you’ll have all the terms are in one place if a question comes up later, not in seventeen e-mails or texts.

As your business grows, and you’ve got more to lose if something goes wrong, it’s definitely a good idea to work one-on-one with a lawyer to create a contract. You need to be sure your contract truly protects you, works with the way you do business, and would hold up in court if you ever got into a real disagreement.

But I trust this person, people tell us all the time. We have a great relationship, I don’t want to scare them away with a big contract full of legalese!

Contracts are not a wedge between you and your client or collaborator. They are a gift to both sides. They let both of you know the ground rules for how you’ll work together. Once you both know the rules of the game, you’re free to stop worrying about what could go wrong and focus on the amazing things you’ll do together.

If you write your own contracts, be sure they include at least:

- List of goods or services being provided and any deliverables (be specific!)

- Cost and payment deadlines

- Refund policy

- What happens if one or both of you wants to end the agreement early (i.e. is there a certain amount of notice required, do you still get paid, etc.)

- If content is being created, who owns what and will any native or design files be shared

Ideally, you’ll both sign the contract and keep a copy for your own files, to show you both agreed to all the terms, but how often does that actually happen? We highly recommend using an e-signing service like HelloSign or RightSignature (I’m not an affiliate, just think these are great services — we use HelloSign for my own client contracts).

We went from about 1 in 10 clients actually signing my client contracts to 100% signature rate when we started using an e-signing service.

Not up for creating your own contracts? We get that, and it’s exactly why we work one-on-one with online and creative entrepreneurs every day drafting custom contracts.