Many freelancers have to enter into contracts with their clients. A basic agreement can be made explaining the work that will be done as well as payment terms and other important details. While it's best to meet with a lawyer, the following is to show the advantagess of working with a proposed timeline.
1. Include a timeline on your contract.
If applicable to the type of work that you do, make a proposed timeline that gives specific dates and the action steps that will take place on those dates. This way both you and the client know what to expect and can plan accordingly. You can also anticipate the steps involved and when the project will be completed. It may also let the client know that the freelancer may need their input or another task done throughout the process. It sets expectations for each person so they can anticipate when they have to partake in any decision making, task or next step in the process in order to move the project along on time. It shows what needs to happen so that everyone involved meets the desired deadline.
2. Include payment terms in the timeline.
You can intersperse your payment terms in the timeline, it gets thrown into a chronological order between other expected outcomes. You can signify when you will start and include other important dates with bullet points and bold text of the actual date. Put a line or two about the action required by the client or freelancer. If you expect a payment upfront and the contract signed from the beginning, then include that information next to the date.
These are the first logical steps to begin working. It indirectly sets up a structure showing that the client needs to pay first before the work begins without having to say that directly or include it in a separate section. Once you outline other steps in the process, include when the work will be finished along with the date that you expect to complete the project. Add a line and date about how the freelancer gives an informal heads up as to when the freelancer will be paid the remaining balance amount before the last invoice is sent out.
3. A timeline keeps everyone on the same page.
You don't have to wonder when something will be completed or worry if the person is making the project a priority. The timeline is a proactive approach that takes any guessing out of what will happen while working together. It will eliminate going back and forth on email unnecessarily if everything is clarified from the beginning. Also, it explains the process and gives an idea of how it will take to complete the task at hand. When the client sees all the steps involved, they get a better understanding of what you are doing and how long it will realistically take to accomplish the project. Joe A. Carbone, Jr. of FocusPlanningGroup.net uses a timeline in his agreement. He explains, "It sets the expectation for job completion. If a client hires me to complete a financial plan or some other consulting job, my contract states the plan should be completed in 30 days and the agreement is good for 6 months. I set the expectations to put a timeline on job completion and it sometime helps keep the clients moving along the process."
The Bottom Line
It's best to check with a lawyer when drawing up a contract but including a timeline can allow everyone involved to be on the same page when it comes to the time and tasks involved to complete work. It also allows both parties to be aware of other important dates during the project and know when payment is expected.