Of Contracts, Letters of Agreement, And Rates

by anne on March 31, 2009

contract-signingAs a self-employed freelance writer I often generate my own contracts or letters of agreement. I’ve never had any formal legal training, but years in the real estate business and just living life has taught me a surprising amount about contracts that work. Actually, I usually refer to the ones I write as Letters of Agreement.

A Letter of Agreement sounds less intimidating than a Contract. What I want is agreement with my clients, not a document that threatens to throw us into court or arbitration. Here are the elements I include:

  • The goal or purpose of the work
  • The method we’ll work together. Face-to-face, email, phone, some combination.
  • Ownership/copyright
  • Confidentiality/non-disclosure
  • Cost and way cost is to be paid
  • The pace of the work/responsibility of each party
  • Escape clause

Perhaps the most difficult for me is figuring out how much I should charge. So often it really boils down to what I think I’m worth. Then I have to add factors like health insurance, a retirement plan, sick and vacation pay, etc. I’ve been told my hourly rate is way too high by prospective clients and that it’s way to low by prospective clients. 

One of the techniques I now use is to consult with a couple of people who know my work and know my tendency to under value myself a bit. I can almost always count on at least one of them to suggest I ask for more. They’ve always been right.

Do you use contracts or letters of agreement in your work? What do you include?

Love, blessings and prosperity,



Image from http://www.sxc.hu

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