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Notes on Freelance Camp 2011- Contracts For People Who Hate Contracts (Session#1)

This past weekend I was at the Freelance Camp held by TheNetworkHub at New Westminster https://thenetworkhub.ca/freelancecamp. There was a lot of energy at that “unconference” and I left feeling very motivated. I didn’t know that “unconference” meant no set agenda for the day until one was created by participants themselves. Speakers would line up and have a maximum of 30 seconds to pitch their session. If the session gets voted on, it will become one of the sessions offered that day.

Some of the sessions I attended include:
(Session#1) Contracts;
(Session#2) What Clients/Consultants Really Think?;
(Session#3) How to Write a Book;
(Session#4) Rules of Engagement; and
(Session#5) 6 Time Management Tips.

I will have separate posts for each of these to ensure it is legible and easier to digest.

Contracts – by Danielle Lemon and Martin Ertl
This one was popular and one I immediately signed up for. Danielle and Martin talked about many reasons for having contracts.
-Contracts are great planning tools.
-It shows professionalism.
-It provides a statement of work listing what is in-scope and out-of-scope, deliverables, backout clause.
-Clearly shows milestones for payment, and terms of those payments.
-It shows the approach you will take for the project.
-Clearly specify which law applies when conflicts arise, e.g. write that the law of British Columbia applies.

They also covered most of the questions I had including:

Is an email contract acceptable? Yes. It’s better than a verbal contract. You should start the work initially with the expectation that a full contract is on its way. Also, make sure they reply to the email confirming receipt or agreeing to the content.

As the Consultant, what do I do with subcontractor contracts? Who wins? They complement each other. The contracts will tend to be one-sided so make sure you read through the other contract and make changes as you see fit.

What do I do with clients that aren’t on retainer and have no written contracts signed? If there was no provision to make amendments to terms and agreements, you will have to renegotiate the contract. It means you will have to treat existing clients as though they were new.

How much do I charge web clients? A third of the total as a downpayment. You want to make sure you get paid in case the relationship deteriorates. How should one make changes to existing contracts? If you made provisions for regular reviews, update your Terms and Conditions on paper or on your website and direct your client to those changes. However, you need to have a clause that allows you to make changes to the contract.

How do I deal with verbal agreements, over the phone or in person, regarding a new project? Followup immediately with an email detailing the meeting minutes and ask for confirmation emails to ensure all parties are on the same page.

This is all I have for the first session. Stay tuned for the second session that I attended, i.e. What Do Client and Consultants Really Think?

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