Maintenance and 3rd Party Changes
Most freelancers want to post a site and be done with it, but most businesses want to have a continuing relationship with you. You should include in your contract how long you'll be available to assist with learning to maintain the new site as well as what types of things you're going to fix. Are you:
- Going to maintain their domain for them? or transfer it to their domain registry?
- Going to set up email for them? what if new employees come into their business?
- Going to maintain their site for them? or help them do it themselves?
- If you set up a CMS or other tool, how long will you be available for help using it?
I had one client who needed me to resend her her password every month, because she had forgotten it. When I asked her why she didn't just use the "email me my password" link on the CMS page, she admitted that she had forgotten that URL too. I ended up just sending it to her every time, because it was easier than the bad will I could have generated by refusing.
You should also include standard clauses in your contract to limit your liability or risk and to define what should happen in the event of a breech of contract. Some of the boilerplate sections I like to have include:
- Limitation of Liability
You see these all the time in software agreements. This says that you are not resposible for damages that occur outside of the consequences of your direct actions in the agreement. For example, if your contract stated that you were to finish in 30 days, just before the previous hosting provider would re-up the site for another 10-year contract. If you're late, and you don't have a limitation of liabilities clause, you could be liable for all costs surrounding getting out of that contract and transfer fees.
This defines what happens if either party wants out of the contract. You can define that cancelations are not allowed except by mutual consent. Or that cancelation notices must be received in writing within a certain number of days of specific milestones and that all or a portion of the deposit is forfeit upon cancelation.
This defines how contract disputes will be handled. By specifying that all disputes will be subject to binding arbitration, you can avoid court costs and many legal fees. Plus, if you specify that the arbitration happen in your locality and who will pay for it (generally the loser).
- Choice of Law
This defines where the disputes will be arbitrated. It's a good idea to make this your home county and state, so that you don't have to pay travel expenses as well in the event of a dispute.
Get Your Contract Looked Over By a Lawyer and Signed By Your Client
It's a good idea to get your contract looked over by a lawyer just to make sure you haven't forgotten anything. If you don't have a lawyer, ask your clients who their legal representation is. Or you can contact your local library to find legal resources. Some cities even provide legal resources available for free or low cost.
Once you have a contract you're satisfied with, you'll need to get your client to sign it. I find it best to sit down with the client and go over it together. If there are parts that you think might be controversial, talk them over with the client before you write them into the contract. Remember, contracts are a legal agreement between two parties. You want their business and they want your services, don't let the contract get so technical that it blocks that transaction.
I am not a lawyer. I have provided the above as advice, but not legal representation. You should always get your contracts reviewed by a lawyer to avoid serious legal ramifications.