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Tips on Terms of Engagement for Freelancers

Martina Mercer
May12/ 2015

Scoring a freelance project is always a positive but it is essential that you start the process off properly. For each client and project you need to produce Terms of Engagement.

What are Terms of Engagement?

There are no marriage proposals here; however the terms of engagement are still very important. This is a written contract between you as the web designer and the client or prospective client. These terms are the document which you as the commissioned web designer will rely on to base your work and fee upon.

What should be included in Terms of Engagement for Freelancers?

Dependant on the complexity of a project, the terms of engagement can include many types of key information. This is not an exhaustive list but a starting point for what should be included.

  • Key contact information for both parties
  • A detailed account of what work is being carried out and by whom
  • Costs, a breakdown of what the project will cost
  • Procedures for dealing with any problems or complaints the client has
  • Copyright information (i.e. who owns photographs etc.)

Why bother with Terms of Engagement?

Terms of engagement offer you protection. It is important that all parties are aware of the full details of the project prior to starting. Having this agreement in place ensures that there are no miscommunications about any part of the project and that you are paid the amount agreed and on time.

Additions can be made (in writing) to the Terms of Engagement as time goes on but having these documents set up are what allows both yourself and the client to be clear about what the project is includes and how much it costs. There can be no misunderstandings when a comprehensive terms of engagement document in written up and signed by both parties. Do make sure that both yourself and the client has a signed copy on file.

From the client’s point of view the terms of engagement are an insurance document against an unfinished or inadequate job. For yourself it ensures that you are paid as agreed and can form the basis of any claim you need to make for any unpaid work. As a freelancer you can’t afford to have unpaid invoices.


How you price up a web design commission depends on many factors including, but not limited to:

  • The software required
  • Any licensing issues, domain names, hosting and stock photographs.
  • How much art work needs to be designed from scratch?
  • The number of pages and required features, i.e. slideshows, forms, forums etc.
  • How experienced you are (this can be proved by the size and complexity of your portfolio of previous works).
  • Other technical and business associated costs.
  • The number of hours the work will take.

It would be wise to have a master rates table which you can refer to for each job which will ensure consistency of pricing and will reduce the risk of you under-pricing any future work.

As a freelancer you can’t afford to spend time chasing clients for extra information, dealing with excessive amounts of queries and you certainly don’t need to be chasing unpaid invoices. Take the time to think your rates through and write up terms of engagement for each project. You can’t afford not to!

Martina Mercer

Martina Mercer is an award winning copywriter and digital marketer. She specialises in psychology delivering marketing that identifies consumer profiles and connects customers with brands. As an expert in proximity marketing, Martina is one of the only experienced beacon marketers in the UK highlighting her commitment to developing her skills in an ever changing consumer focused world.