Why Freelance Writers Earn More With This Simple Piece of Paper

Carol Tice

Don't write without a freelance contract. Makealivingwriting.comThere’s one easy step freelance writers can take to boost their income. It can prevent you from getting ripped off.

But I find many writers don’t take this simple step. Here are three stories out of many I’ve heard in Freelance Writers Den just recently that illustrate my point:

“I am collaborating with a friend to co-write an book. I’ve done a ton of work and now the relationship is deteriorating. He never signed a freelance contract with me outlining how we’d share the workload or the revenue, and now that I have a publisher interested, he won’t budge on their terms. He’s sending me angry emails. I’m afraid the book is now never going to come out.”

“I’ve been working through an agency with a client that sent me a lot of work. Suddenly, the client told me they had severed the relationship with the agency. I’m in the middle of the assignment! I have no freelance contract with the agency or this client, they’re not returning my calls, and I’ve done $700 worth of work that I suspect I’ll never be paid for.”

“My client is contract-phobic. It’s just a short assignment, so I was thinking of just going for it and writing without a contract. Anything wrong with that?”

Well, there’s really nothing wrong with it — as long as you don’t care if you ever get paid.

Did you notice a common theme to those stories?

That’s right. When you don’t have a freelance contract, you often get screwed.

When you write without a contract, you have no agreement. Your client is obligated to do nothing for you. They could pay you 10 years from now and be within their rights.

I have seen so many writers get screwed over because they don’t have a contract, it honestly just makes me throw up.

To sum up: Don’t write without a contract!

When you’re bouncing from one scammy, nonpaying client to the next, not getting paid, your earnings for the year are going down, down, down. When writers work, they need to get paid — every time.

Will a contract guarantee you get paid? No.

But my experience is that clients are far less likely to flake on you when you’ve got something in writing with their signature on it.

If you have to, create a short email outlining your assignment, payment, and most importantly payment terms (when they have to pay you). Ask them to respond with “I agree.” Print and save. Now you at least have a paper trail.

Will you write without a contract? Leave a comment and tell us about it.



  1. Anna

    You are so right, Carol. It is so important to point out the great importance of a contract, and it does not only apply to writing really. I know, a contract is not a guarantee for you to get paid, but if they are willing to sign a contract with you, that is a good sign, you’ll know that they are not planning to rip you off to start with.


  1. 7 Posts That Will Boost Your Freelance Writing Career - [...] the Make a Living Writing blog, Carol Tice discusses the importance of contracts with Why Freelance Writers Earn more…

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