You also need to include information on how you would handle going over the hourly estimate.
Your terms must also be very clear, like ‘Payable Net 30 Days’, and include the consequences for going over your payment terms, such as: ‘Invoices that remain unpaid after 90 days will be subject to an interest rate of 3% per month’. Be clear about how you wish to be paid, like - Please remit through this PayPal account; send your check to this address, payment can be made direct to this bank account, and so on. Don’t forget to include your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or your Social Security number so there can be no payment errors.
You also need to include information on how you would handle going over the hourly estimate. Let’s say you estimated 4 hours at $90 per hour, but you invoiced for 8 hours, you can understand that your client would not be very happy. Unless they agreed to the extension they may not honour their end of the agreement.
- It’s fine if you want your contract to resemble an invoice, with separate lines for description, price, and so on; but make sure that the word Invoice does not appear on your contract. Doing it this way means you can save a copy of this document as your invoice and, once you’ve completed the work, the invoice you send for payment will mirror your contract. This method results in less confusion and less debate over the account.
- Next, at the bottom of the contract draw two lines: type your name below the first line, and under the second line type the name of your contact person at the business or translation agency. These are your signature lines for when the contract has been mutually accepted.
- Make a note that, by signing the contract, the client is accepting your terms.
Today, most freelancers rarely meet their clients in person and the majority of communication is done via email, so in this case you need to ask the client to sign the contract and email it back to you. Before sending the contract to the client you should sign it yourself, so they’ll already have your signature. It’s okay to exchange by PDFs - or fax machine if you have one.
Now that you have your contract document, save it onto your computer so you can simply change the details for your next project. And that’s it!
Tips about Contracts
Don’t be concerned about asking your translation client to sign a contract. You also need to understand that, just because the client signed the contract, there’s no guarantee that they’ll pay – but it certainly does increase your chances!
If your client has signed a contract but has not paid within the specified time, now you simply send a friendly but formal letter to the client together with a copy of the contract they signed. Reference the contract in your letter, plus the terms as outlined in the contract.
As mentioned, this contract won’t offer you bullet-proof protection, but if you do have a client who refuses to pay and they’ve breached their contract, you now have the appropriate paperwork to consult an attorney. Freelance translation experts might choose to add a line in their contract saying that they are to be paid regardless of whether the project does or does not make it to print. It’s not your problem if the project has changed or been cancelled; you’re entitled to be paid as long as you’ve completed the work you agreed to.
Because these types of agreements or contracts protect both you and the client, it’s quite rare to find someone who refuses to pay for the work you’ve completed – assuming of course that your work is up to standard. Having a contract works for and protects both parties.