Freelance Blogging Rule #1: Never Work Without A Contract. Ever.

Though I’ve only had one client, so far, I learned this lesson before I had even finished my first week of work.

It wasn’t because anything terrible had happened.  I was enjoying the work, and I was getting along with my client very nicely.

I just started to immediately see the potential for disaster.

The only thing I can personally compare it to is not having a parenting plan.

You think you and your ex can act like adults, negotiate amicably, and get along “for the sake of the kids.”

But it never quite works out that way, does it?

When it starts to unravel and goes to complete shit, you count your lucky stars that you listened to your lawyer and included that parenting plan into your custody agreement.  That’s if you listened to your lawyer.

Having a freelance blogging contract is very similar to having a parenting plan.  It’s just best for both parties to have something in writing to fall back on, especially when there are misunderstandings or if one party isn’t as honest and forthcoming as you’d hoped.

After all, you don’t really know these people.

If you do a search for freelance blogging (or blogger) contracts, you won’t find much.  At least, I didn’t.  I did, however, find a lot of templates for freelance writing contracts and some advice on what to include in your blogging contract.

None of the templates I found really applied to blogging, though.

So after a crap-ton of research, here’s what I ended up doing for my contract.  Keep in mind, I still need to have a lawyer go over my contract, but this will help you get started on yours.

1.  Start with Freelancers Union Contract Creator for your template.

You can fill it out on the website or at your leisure, saved as a Word document.

If you choose to do it on Word, the website won’t let you “Save & Continue” unless all fields are filled out.  I completed each field with a word or phrase in all caps, so I recognized each blank field within the Word document later.

2.  Use simple, yet very specific, language in your Scope of Work section.

I wrote up my Scope of Work as bulleted lists:

450 words blog post, once a week, for Website.com

  • Carefully research provided topic; or search for topic, then research
  • Thoroughly research relevant SEO keywords
  • Create SEO keyword-based content
  • Meticulously edit content
  • Email content to you to be approved
  • Up to 2 free rewrites
  • Once content approved, enter content and all SEO components into website
  • Add media (photos and/ or video)
  • Use own original photography for post, when applicable
  • Edit all content to ready for publishing, then publish

Make sure you include each and every little thing that goes into your work, and what you and your client have agreed upon.

This should deter any “scope creep” that may  occur.  This is when a client asks for a tiny, extra “favor,” which may sound innocent at first.  Then it snowballs, and you end up doing way more work and making way less money.

I did this for my first client.  Her intentions weren’t evil, and I don’t think she realized all she was asking.  It didn’t help that I’m such a softy and didn’t say anything, either.

Embarrassingly, I ended up making much less than $5 an hour, when all was said and done.

Lesson learned.

I was charging her $15 each for 450- and 600-word posts, though, because I had no idea about the going rate for freelance bloggers when I first started this.

What is the going rate for freelance bloggers just starting out?  It’s around $50 per 500-word blog post.

Yeah, I really shot myself in the foot with that first deal.

3.  Warranty your work.

If you warranty your work, this boosts your credibility with clients and their trust.

Guarantee your work is plaigarism-free and original, as well as having references cited properly, if applicable.

4.  Make your rates, compensation, payment structure and how you will be paid crystal clear.

I explained my rates and made it clear how I came up with the total fees.  I also made it clear how often I wanted to be paid and the mode of payment.

I strongly suggest you receive at least partial payment up front, before you begin work.  Unfortunately, some clients try to dodge payment after the work has been completed.  This is easier for them to get away with when a contract doesn’t exist.

Here’s an example for the Fees section:

In connection with the performance of services described above, you agree to pay to So-N-So the following fees:

Rates:
$50.00 per 450 words per blog post on Website.com 

Compensation:
You agree to pay So-N-So:
$50.00 per week for one (1) blog post on Website.com 

You agree to make payment by check, every two (2) weeks, in the amount of $100.00, with the first payment made on the date this contract takes effect.

You agree to pay for all fees associated with each check returned for insufficient funds, or any other reason.

If the parameters of the Scope of Work changes in any way, you and So-N-So agree to renegotiate rate.

6.  Appoint a Primary Point of Contact.

The last thing you want is to look incompetent.  Don’t put yourself into a position where you are speaking to multiple people regarding your work and what is wanted by the client.  Who knows if those multiple people even communicate well amongst themselves?

Though you have a clear Scope of Work section, questions will arise.  Limit your interactions with one person:  Your Primary Point Of Contact.

7.  Include an Indemnification clause.

This should protect you from being liable for anything that results from the use, or misuse, of your work.

Again, I have not had a lawyer go over my contract.  I strongly suggest you seek professional advice on your own contract to protect yourself and your work.

8.  Ask your client if you may add a byline.

I’ve read that some clients may not allow this, for whatever reasons.

This is free advertising for you.

At the bottom of the article or blog post, you may be allowed to discreetly post a hyperlink to your website or blog.

This is far from being a comprehensive list, as each contract for each client will vary.  Also, I’m brand new at this, and I expect to put my contract through many changes along the way.

There are many other aspects to consider, so do your research!

If you are already freelance blogging, what other clauses do you add in your contracts?

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5 thoughts on “Freelance Blogging Rule #1: Never Work Without A Contract. Ever.”

  1. Very helpful article. I have an opportunity to be paid for a blog post, and it’s such new territory. I’ve heard some horror stories – people not being paid or the blog posts disappeared with a new website manager and the blogger was asked to repost each blog post. Courtney – Maui Jungalow blog

  2. Hey! Thanks for the pingback. I learned to always aim for pay per word or pay per hour, if you can. If not, never accept a low amount for an article, unless it’s going to get you a ton of exposure.

    What you included is great advice. Bookmarking for the next client contract.

    1. Thanks! There were *so* many contradicting articles about that subject: pay per word or pay per hour.

      From what I gleaned, I have a set amount per hour that I will not go below, regardless of the project. Just from working that one month for my first client, I have a little bit of an idea of how long it takes me to research, write, and, if necessary, post with SEO components. 🙂

      Still doing a lot of reading right now, though, and haven’t looked for more potential clients.

      I’m glad my post has some useful info for you to use! Thanks for visiting!

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