Whether you’re starting out as a freelance medical writer or have been in business for a while, you do need to be clear about your non-negotiable terms.
Flexibility is key in the freelance writing world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be firm about the issues that are most important to you. You’re running a business, after all! You need to know:
- The terms you’re prepared to be flexible on, and
- The non-negotiable terms.
Knowing your non-negotiable freelance terms helps you to avoid problems down the track. But how do you know which terms you need to stick by? Here are some considerations.
What terms should I include in my contract?
First, it’s important to ensure your freelance contract contains the key terms you need to protect yourself and get your client on the same page.
Typically, these key contract terms include:
- Project scope and exclusions
- Payment terms
- Upfront deposit
Defining the project scope in as much detail as possible is important, but it’s also essential to state what is not included.
Certain exclusions, like design or reference checking, may be non-negotiable for you, and it’s important to clearly define the key exclusions for the avoidance of any doubt.
Payment terms refer to the time from when you submit your invoice to when you get paid. Payment terms can also refer to a schedule of payments and upfront deposits (see below).
Of course, it would be nice to be paid on the spot, but that rarely happens! Instead, you may find that you get paid seven, 14 or 21 days after you send in your invoice. Some clients pay 30 or 60 days from the end of the month of the invoice; this is extremely common with large companies.
Often, large companies can’t negotiate their payment terms, as they have the same terms for all suppliers. So you need to decide if you can commit to a freelance job that doesn’t pay for a couple of months.
If you can be flexible with your payment terms, you’ll be able to secure more freelance jobs in the long term. You may have some clients who pay seven days, and others who pay 60 days. Managing your cash flow will be important.
Your fees will change for each project but think about your overall pricing strategy and if you can afford to be flexible on your hourly and project rates.
Adjusting your fees is usually a personal decision based on many factors, like:
- How busy you are
- How much you want the project
- How much you don’t want the project
- How much work is involved
- How well you know the subject matter
It’s standard for freelance medical writers to include two rounds of revisions per project, but your client may ask for a third round to be included in the price.
Usually, the copyright should pass to the client once they have paid for the work. But until they have paid, the IP still belongs to you as the creator. Once your client has paid for the work, they are legally entitled to do whatever they want with it.
This is straightforward for content, but if your client is selling your work and making more money from it, consider whether you are okay with that.
You might ask for royalties or a larger fee if you know that they are selling an eBook that you wrote, for example.
Consider what your cancellation terms are – that is, what will happen if you or the client cancel the work at various stages of the project.
You may refund some or all of an upfront deposit payment, or your upfront deposit may be non-negotiable. Speaking of upfront deposits…
Will you charge an upfront deposit for the project, and if so, how much of the fee will the deposit cover? Will your upfront deposit be non-refundable regardless of who cancels the project?
Requesting an upfront deposit is beneficial for several reasons. You get income right away, so if the work is cancelled you are paid for what you’ve started.
Upfront deposits are also a wonderful way to see if the client is serious – especially if you have already noticed some red flags or reasons that are making you hesitate.
You have the skills. Now what? It’s time to plan your freelance health writing business launch!
If you want to become a freelance health writer but aren’t sure how to get started, this Freelance Health Writer Business Planner is the tool you need.
The planner helps you determine your career transition plan, marketing messages, target clients, writing services and more!
An indemnity clause is a key term for your contract. This clause defines who is legally responsible for the work should any issues arise. The legal responsibility should be the client’s, but they may ask that you take on that responsibility. If that happens, you need to consider if you really want the job and weigh up the risks.
The final word
When it comes to non-negotiable terms, there are many considerations, and this list is just a starting point. I hope it has helped to give you some things to consider as you plan your contracts and freelance processes.
Remember that this post contains advice that is general in nature, so always consult a legal professional before entering into any contract to exchange services.