Working without a written contract is risky for freelancers. If a dispute arises, the freelancer may be left with no legal protection because contracts are not standard in the industry. Additionally, negotiations about compensation and work schedule can be thorny if there isn’t a contract to refer back to. Working without an agreement may cost you later on.   

 Without a contract, it’s much harder to prove your value or get reimbursed for expenses if the parties didn’t discuss it beforehand. Even though trusting people upfront seems like the better option at first glance, trust often has its price. Let’s see why freelancers shouldn’t work without a contract and what pitfalls come with it! 

1. Contracts Help Prevent Non-payment Issues  

Freelancers often receive their payment before they complete their portion of the project. To ensure that the client follows through on their promise to pay you, you must have a contract including a payment schedule. Without a contract, you cannot really ensure that your client will pay you when they are supposed to. 

A client may decide that they don’t want to pay you. They might claim that they don’t like the outcome. Or worst, that they don’t have the money to pay you. Without a contract, you have no way of protecting yourself from a client who fails to pay you. You can’t take them to court, and you have no way of getting your money back without taking legal action. 

2. Contracts State the Deliverables for the Client 

 When a project is completed, both the client and freelancer might be happy with the final result. However, each party might have different expectations about the achieved level of excellence. Without a contract, it’s not easy to define the expected outcome of every task.   

Picture this: you are crafting a brochure for a client. It seems logical that a high-quality end product includes complex graphics and images. However, the client might assume that only black and white text will be considered high-quality. If you don’t have a contract, you have no way of knowing what the client expects from you. This situation causes frustration on both sides because each party feels like they failed to meet the other’s expectations. 

A good contract sets down your duties and what the client should expect from you. In turn, this will help prevent issues down the road. 

3. Contracts Protect You and Your Client  

Freelancers are not the only ones who encounter issues; clients can also experience some. Many clients found themselves with nothing, while some ended up with something completely different from what they’d ask for. On the other hand, freelancers sometimes find themselves without payment for their work. Anything could happen, really.    

With a contract, both parties can outline the expectations, the tasks, the compensation, and other details. Contrary to popular belief, a contract protects your client and reduces the risk for both parties. It works as a basis of trust and understanding that helps build a permanent working relationship between the client and freelancer.    

Indeed, there are still lots of people who are decent, kind, and honest. However, when you’re running a business, always ask yourself if a client can potentially screw you over or make your life difficult. If you answer yes, you may want to create a contract and have the client sign it before you do the work.    

4. Contracts Create a Record of Agreement 

If your client is trying to minimize their costs, they may attempt to get out of paying you as much as possible. To defend yourself, you need to have a record of the expectations of each party. Without a contract, you have no way of proving what you agreed to do and when you agreed to do it.   

In other words, your client could try to claim that you agreed to do more work than you actually did. Nevertheless, with a written contract, you have a record of the expectations of each party. Without one, you have no legal recourse if your client attempts to get out of paying you what they agreed to pay. 

5. Contracts Prevent Timing Risk 

Freelancers who work on a contract basis are likely to be protected by the provision of the contract. Without a written contract, the freelancer is at risk of not having any protection in case the client terminates the agreement without any valid reason.  

The client could just fail to pay for provided services or fail to give feedback about the completed work. So, the freelancer would have no legal recourse to defend their work. A contract is not the ultimate answer to problems that may arise when working with a client base. On the other hand, a contract CAN and WILL help you avoid many of the potential unwanted outcomes. 

The Wrap  

Freelancers have a lot of power and freedom, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Working without a contract puts you at risk of being taken advantage of, wasting your time and talent, and getting paid too little or too late. A contract puts everyone on the same page and helps you get compensated for your creativity and effort! 

Get the best contract for your needs here.  

Creators Legal is the first and only legal platform for content creators. We designed a platform just for content creators to craft simple, straightforward, and trustworthy contracts in a fast, easy-to-use platform. With a powerful form builder, a secure e-signature system, and your own personalized dashboard to store and organize all your contracts, you can get yourself protected in minutes without the need for expensive entertainment lawyers!