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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turnbull

Essential Project Documents for Freelance Copywriters

a woman in a grey suit and white shirt signing project documents to form a contract

As a freelance copywriter, one of the keys to success in your career is to ensure you have clearly defined terms and conditions as well as a detailed statement of work for each project you take on. These documents not only protect you as a freelancer but also set the foundation for a successful collaboration between you and your clients.

The role of terms and conditions

A terms and conditions document (‘Ts & Cs’) is essential. It outlines the general expectations, responsibilities and rights of both parties involved in a project. It defines the overall relationship between the freelance copywriter and the client, providing clarity on various aspects such as payment terms, project structure, ownership of work and mechanisms for dispute resolution.

By having these points clearly outlined and agreed upon at the outset, both parties should be able to avoid misunderstandings or any conflicts later in the project. Hopefully, the document is signed once and never has to be referred to again, but it’s great to have it there in the event of any issues in the future.

Key components of terms and conditions documentation

1.       The parties: Set out the supplier and client details

2.       Roles and responsibilities: Set out if the client organisation should have one defined point of contact or whether decision-making is by committee, and who communicates with the freelance copywriter

3.       Payment terms: Set out standard payment terms and that these are for all projects unless otherwise agreed in writing

4.       Acceptance: Clearly define what scenarios would be deemed as copy being approved. This can include official sign off, but also should include scenarios like work being published without being signed off officially

5.       Ownership of IP: Set out whether the freelance copywriter retains IP or if IP passes to the client upon acceptance and payment

6.       Rights to publish: Define whether the copywriter has the right to publish work they’ve produced – for example as a portfolio piece

7.       Cancellation clause: Set out the cancellation clause and notification periods and what will be invoiced upon cancellation

8.       Change control process: Explain the change control process and how this differs from minor changes to large changes. For example, minor changes may be communicated and accepted by email, whereas large changes may be handled by writing an addendum to the statement or work. Communicate whether accepting changes needs to be formally signed off and by who

9.       Authorisation: Ensure Ts & Cs are signed by both parties – an authorised signatory from the client organisation is a must

The role of a statement of work

A statement of work (‘SOW’) delves into the specifics of the project at hand. It outlines in detail the scope of work to be performed, the price for the services, the payment schedule, performance expectations, responsibilities of each party, completion criteria and acceptance terms, revision policies, points of contact and project timelines.

When a freelance copywriter works on several projects with the same client, they should have the overall Terms and Conditions of Business document in place then several SOWs that sit beneath it – one for every project.

Key components of a Statement of Work

  1. Scope of work: Clearly define the tasks and deliverables that are expected from the freelance copywriter

  2. Price: Specify the agreed-upon fee for the project, including any additional costs or expenses

  3. Payment schedule: Outline how and when payments will be made, including any deposit requirements

  4. Performance and responsibilities: Detail the expectations and responsibilities of both the copywriter and the client

  5. Completion criteria and acceptance: Define the criteria that needs to be met for the project to be considered complete and accepted

  6. Cancellation: Specify the conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement

  7. Number of revisions: Specify the number of rounds of revisions included in the project scope to avoid scope creep and set out how revisions/amends should be communicated

  8. Points of contact: Provide the contact information for both parties' representatives for efficient communication

  9. Change control process: Set out how changes to the scope of the project are to be communicated (different from revisions)

  10. Project dates: Clearly state the project start date, deadlines for deliverables, and project completion date


The role of an addendum to a statement of work

An addendum (or addenda in the event of multiple changes) to a statement of work plays a crucial role in contract management by addressing changes or updates to the original SOW. It’s a separate document that’s attached to the existing agreement and is used to incorporate additional work, agreements or information that wasn’t included in the original SOW. This can include significant changes to the scope of a project – changes that may require new pricing or amended delivery timeframes.

The addendum/addenda to statements of work form part of the contract documentation and should be signed by both parties.


How project documents for freelance copywriters protect both parties

An organisation chart showing how project documents for freelance copywriters should be laid out with Terms  and Conditions at the top, Statements of Work for each project sitting below the overall terms and conditions and addendum or addednda to the statement of work sitting below
Stucture for project documentation for freelance copywriters

By having these documents in place, both the freelance copywriter and the client are protected. The terms and conditions document ensures that both parties understand their rights and obligations, reducing the risk of potential disputes.

The statement of work sets clear expectations for the specific project, ensuring that all deliverables are outlined, timelines are established and payment terms are agreed upon. The option to include addenda is there if there are any significant changes to scope, price or delivery timeframe.

Having clearly defined terms and conditions and a detailed statement of work is not only crucial for freelance copywriters to protect their interests and ensure successful project outcomes, but it also demonstrates structure and professionalism going into a project or projects.

By laying out the specifics of a copywriting project in writing, both parties can enter into the collaboration with confidence and clarity, setting the stage for a productive and mutually beneficial partnership!



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