My partner and I have begun discussions with the owner of a small business for a full-blown rebranding and marketing strategy (logo design, branding collateral, social media strategy creation, SEO of website, and 2 blog posts a month). My partner specializes in blog writing/SEO and I in graphic design.

My partner and I have discussed pricing and a schedule, but I'm worried we're going to miss something in the contract.

What advice do you have for drawing up a contract for our first freelance job? Do you foresee any pitfalls/red flags with this project?

  • Hey Jamie! Welcome to GD.SE and congrats on your first contract. Your question is too broad for our Q&A format. Is there a particular aspect you're most curious about? You can likely get a lot of useful information from the freelance tag but many others will be helpful as well Mar 23, 2017 at 18:57
  • 2
    Half or third of the money up front, and no rights until all payment has been made.
    – joojaa
    Mar 23, 2017 at 19:07
  • @ZachSaucier: my concerns are namely legal concerns (though I just saw this question, which answers a lot of my questions! : graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/5787/… So, I guess in addition to this, maybe some advice on not overpromising or helping the client understand what we can accomplish, versus what we cannot? Mar 23, 2017 at 20:20
  • @JamieHammond If you edit your question to better reflect your concerns regarding project/ability scope it'd be much less likely to get closed! Mar 23, 2017 at 20:56

2 Answers 2


Pretty broad and opinionated question overall....

Define Deliverables Precisely.

This includes who owns what rights to what work and at what time rights may transfer (after full payment). Detail exactly what the client gets for their payment. You may even go so far as to state what they don't get for the sake of clarity. Too often clients assume they get anything and everything they ever see which may loosely be related to their company.

Define Payment Schedule and Amounts Precisely.

Always ask for a non-refundable deposit up front (30-50%). And make it known that payment is due immediately upon completion, or net 15 days.. or whatever you want.

Detail, as much as possible, the work to be done

Provide as much detail about tasks to be completed as possible. In some cases you can use a "scope of work" addendum to a contract to define items per-project. This allows 1 contract to cover the general business agreement, than the addendum to define what is expected for a particular assignment.

Define what "Scope Creep" means.

Along with the above... make it known that you are the deciding factor when something goes above and beyond your initial pricing proposal.

Allow for "Acts of God"

Ensure you won't be penalized if you unfortunately hit something like a serious illness or hospitalization unexpectedly. It is terrible to be under an expensive tight deadline, then have a medical emergency which prevents you from meeting that deadline. Just cover your bases - you may have to return payments and eat your work, but it shouldn't cost you anything more than that.

Include "Kill Fees"

Get paid for your time if the client backs out early or fails to maintain their end of the contract.


Always do 50% deposit to begin work, non-refundable. This shows that you're serious and will tell you that your client respects you. Never start without a signed contract and the deposit.

This youtube channel has lots of info regarding the type of business you're doing: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheSkoolRocks

The biggest takeaway I've gotten from this channel is CHARGE FOR STRATEGIC THINKING. A lot of us do strategic thinking to some extent as graphic designers, but we frequently don't charge/account for it. And because we don't relay the value it brings to the client, the client doesn't think it's worth anything either. Leaving them second-guessing your decisions or otherwise messing with the design in ways detrimental to their own success.

If you're the designer that does whatever the client says, then don't charge for strategic thinking. You're not thinking.

  • This youtube channel is exactly what I needed. Thank you! Mar 25, 2017 at 19:59

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