If you do design or development work for clients, you should have a signed contract for each project. Unfortunately, many freelancers and independent designers skip this important step because they don’t think it’s necessary, or don’t know how or where to create an appropriate contract.
We’ve worked with an attorney to create several contract templates you can use for various types of projects. Whether you’re designing a website or a logo, performing ongoing maintenance, or outsourcing work to other freelancers/contractors, we’ve got agreement templates that can help.
Does a Graphic Designer Really Need a Contract?
As a freelancer, you might think contracts are only necessary for big projects or long-term engagements. While it’s true that these types of agreements are particularly important, any client work—even a one-time project—should be governed by some contract to protect both you and your client.
For the freelancer, having a contract for graphic design services in place before beginning work on a project offers several key benefits:
- Helps to establish clear expectations with the client regarding the scope of work, timeline, and deliverables.
- Can be used as a reference point if there are disagreements about the project later on.
- Provides protection if the client doesn’t pay or tries to change the scope of the project after work has already begun.
- Establishes payment amounts and dates/milestones.
Unfortunately, if you skip the contract, it could come back to hurt you later. If something goes wrong, you’ll have no legal recourse without a contract. Verbal agreements may be unenforceable, but a signed written contract proves validity.
Using the Web and Graphic Design Contract Templates
The process can seem daunting if you’ve never created a contract. But it doesn’t have to be. A contract is simply a document that outlines the expectations and requirements of both parties involved in a project.
To get started, look at our contract template list below. We’ve created agreements for different types of design work. Download the template that best suits your needs, then edit it to add your own specific details about the project.
Each template includes blanks that you’ll fill in with the project details. You’ll also find highlighted sections with explanations. The templates come in Microsoft Word format, so you can enter the details of your project and delete anything that’s not relevant.
These are sample design contracts. They are meant as a guide only and NOT legal advice. The agreements may not meet your specific needs. If you have specific questions, you should seek legal or appropriate counsel for your unique situation and need.
Website Design Contract Template
Use this free contract when you’re designing or developing a website for a client. It could be the initial creation of a new website or a redesign of an existing site.
Graphic Design Contract Template
This is a general contract template for graphic design services. You’ll fill in the details of the specific service you’re providing.
Logo Design Contract Template
Designing a logo for a client? This contract template is more specific than the general graphic design contract template above.
Contract Amendment Template
If you used one of the contract templates above and you need to make a change, you can use this contract amendment template.
Website Maintenance Agreement Template
Use this template to provide ongoing maintenance services for your clients.
Outsourcing Agreement Template
You can use this template to outsource work by hiring freelancers or independent contractors.
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) Template
In certain situations, a non-disclosure (NDA) agreement may be necessary. This template can be used for mutual non-disclosure agreements between you and the client.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Freelance designers should use contracts for all of their projects (just like any other design business). The contract serves as your legal protection, and it also helps to define the scope of the project. Your clients shouldn’t hesitate to sign a contract because it also protects them.
Creating your contract is easy with the help of our templates. All you need to do is download the template and edit it in Microsoft Word or a program that supports files from Word. There are blank spaces where you need to enter your details and the project’s specifics. There are also explanations in key places so you can make changes as needed.
Your contract should include all of the key details of your design project. This may include things like the price or cost breakdown, project description, project scope, timeline, and payment terms.
We hope these resources and example contracts and graphic design agreements are helpful. With free resources like these, there’s no reason not to use a contract for your client projects. It’s quick and easy to use these freelance design contracts, and they’ll help you to present a more professional appearance.