Negotiating a Writing Contract



You’ve found the perfect freelance writer for your project, so what’s next? Get ready to negotiate. Negotiating a writing contract. It’s not enough to have verbal agreement or even an email that outlines the work to be done. To fully protect yourself and the writer, it’s important to have a writing service contract in place.

Why A Writing Service Contract?


Put simply, a writing service contract ensures that both you and the freelance writer fully understand the terms of the project, especially related to copyright. The formal term is “work for hire” and this type of contract specifies that the writer receives a fee but has no further control or rights to the material upon completion. In other words, the writer creates the material and agrees that when it’s done you own it. Period.

Common Elements Of A Writing Service Contract


There are several common elements that are usually part of a standard writing contract:

  • Who are the parties bound by the contract
  • What is the product to be purchased
  • When will the product be delivered, including specifications for progress checkpoints (if needed)
  • When will the writer be paid and what are the payment terms
  • How much will the writer be paid and what (if any) expenses will be paid
  • Who has rights to the final product, specifying for how long and for what uses
  • What are the terms for terminating the contract
  • Future responsibility in case of lawsuit over the product (known as warranty and indemnification)
  • Dispute resolution

Additionally, a work-for-hire contract typically contains some additional information:

  • What type of employment is involved (temporary, contractor, vendor, etc.)
  • Who will supervise the writer and what progress reports are required
  • What information will the writer be required to keep confidential and for how long (called nondisclosure)
  • Is there a noncompete clause that prevents the writer from working for someone else during or after the contract term
  • If either the writer or the client wants to make changes to the work specifications, how is this handled
  • Will the writer have access to client/company information and if so, how much
  • Can the writer include the finished product in his or her portfolio

There’s no need for you to create a writing contract from scratch. Several publications and organizations offer sample contracts which you can customize for your needs so visit your local library or check on the internet for more information. If you are looking for a local contract hire, UK, then you would want to use a UK-based contract. Also, any reputable freelance writer will likely have their own standard contract already written, so consider using that as a starting point in your negotiations.

Get Ready To Negotiate The Contract


Despite what some people may say, most contracts are negotiable in some way. Before entering into negotiations think about what’s most important to you. Make a list of things that are “must-haves” and things that are “want-to-haves” so you’re prepared for the give and take of negotiating.

Do some research in advance to determine typical rates for the type of project you want written. Rates can vary according to region, so if you want a contract hire, UK-based, then check local rates. Remember that you’re likely to find a wide range of pricing out there, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you should go with the lowest priced provider. You really do get what you pay for, and the best writers will typically command rates in the mid to upper range for a given project.

Above all else, remember that negotiating a writing contract is just the first step in working with a freelance writer to get your project done. Neither side will benefit if the contract discussions become contentious, because you still have to work together over the course of the writing project.

If negotiating the contract becomes too difficult take a step back and think about what’s happening. Perhaps there’s miscommunication occurring, or perhaps one side is stuck on a specification that really isn’t that big of a deal. Sometimes, though, the pattern of interaction during contract negotiations is a hint of things to come, so both parties should make sure they are a good “fit” for each other. If you prepare and are ready to negotiate the contract fairly, it can be a meticulous but very rewarding process.

After The Contract Is Fulfilled

Once the contract is fulfilled and you have the end product in hand, don’t forget to provide feedback. Whether positive, neutral, or negative, the writer relies on you to let them know your level of satisfaction. If the writer did a fantastic job then take a few minutes to write out some comments that let him or her know how pleased you are. You’ll benefit by having a skilled freelance writer to use for future projects and the writer will benefit by having positive feedback to show other potential customers.

If you would like more information about how to find a great freelance writer or a local contract hire, UK, we recommend you visit the rest of our Client Advice section.  It contains helpful articles and additional information about getting your writing project the attention it deserves.

Contact Julie-Ann Amos for a quote on any writing project, whether you require a UK copywriter or an internationally based writer from the team.