Freelance Designers: How to Effectively Manage Contracts Online

It has been said that professionals in the field of graphic design are the only group of people that can work hard in their field and still risk not being paid.  This is an unfortunate fact for freelance artists around the world.  While there will always be an inherent risk in an art career, the management of contracts online can make working with clients much easier.

Helping Prevent Contractual Misunderstandings

Because modern society typically values a piece of art as a product and not a process, clients often misunderstand, fundamentally, what it means to hire a graphic designer or freelance artist.  There is often an assumption that commissioning a piece of art can be managed by paying a simple lump sum.  Each piece of art is unique and requires a unique time requirement to be completed.  Clients that understand this concept also understand that agreeing to an hourly rate is easier for the artist, but may not understand just how many hours art requires.

After specifically discussing what the client would like you to do, having a sample contract ready can help set initial expectations for your client.  By discussing what is negotiable within the contract—maximum and minimum hours, hourly rate, etc.—there is a perfect springboard for quickly explaining why artists function the way they do.Another common misunderstanding with designers and their clients is the idea that the designer will be able to take the ideas of the client and immediately translate them into the perfect image.  This obviously is untrue.  Every person inherently has a different vision of what looks good.  Communication is key to bringing the designer and the client’s expectations to a happy medium.

Contracts can also be helpful in this situation.  Contracts can be used to outline a strict method of communication.  By agreeing to submit your work to the client on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis helps to get you the most relevant feedback possible.  The contract also ensures that, if the client is not providing feedback in a timely manner, you are not liable.

How Does an Online Contract System Provide Added Benefit?

Using an online cloud service can streamline contract management for freelance designers.  The most obvious way that online systems speeds up the process is the use of templates.  Having templates ready in a cloud and not just stored on your hard drive allows you to add the client to the document and you can edit the file with them in real time.  This can be done over the phone, but Concord provides a built-in messaging feature which also allows an alternative medium for negotiating online the terms of the contract.

Addressing the Client

Requesting the use of a contract can be intimidating in a field that doesn’t always implement them.  Don’t worry.  Most people will recognize the fact that they don’t understand how different industries function.  As long as you are courteous and explain the risks involved with doing design work, the client will usually be more than willing to oblige.  However, make sure to leave time to address the client’s concerns.