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Free Service Contract For Freelancers & Agencies (Download)

Kyle Prinsloo

Founder, ClientManager

07 Jul 2024

Published On:

In this article, I'll provide a free legal contract template to download and share the exact steps on how to write a professional service contract for a client.

I cover:

● Why Freelancers & Agencies Need Service Contracts

● Key Elements of a Service Contract

● How to Write an Effective Service Contract

● Scope of Work & Deliverables

● The Importance of Termination and Cancellation Terms

● Considerations for Termination and Cancellation Terms

Let's get into it...

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What Is A Service Contract?

A service contract is a written agreement between a freelancer or agency and a client and covers.

Think of it like a legal contract that has:

  • The services that you will provide

  • The terms and conditions

  • Deliverables, which include digital and physical products

  • Timeframe and phases

  • Payment details

A well-drafted service contract provides a clear roadmap for both parties, outlining what to expect from each other.

It provides a sense of security, knowing that you have a legal safety net to fall back on in case things don't go as planned.

Why Freelancers & Agencies Need Service Contracts

It may be obvious but, here's why you need to use a service contract.

  • Service contracts clarify and define the scope of work. They detail exactly what the client will receive from you, the deliverables.

  • These contracts establish clear financial terms. They define payment schedules and amounts, specifying when and how the freelancer or agency will be compensated.

  • Service contracts protect intellectual property rights. They define who owns the rights to the work produced and for how long, preventing misuse or theft of your creative output.

  • Service contracts provide a roadmap for the project, It outlines timelines, deadlines, and milestones. They set expectations about the project's progress.

Lastly, in case of disputes, service contracts define the legal recourse available.

They specify the jurisdiction and dispute resolution methods, ensuring a fair process for both parties.

Key Elements Of A Service Contract


So, now you understand what a service contract is and why it's such a crucial element for freelancers and agencies.

But, what should you include in this all-important document?

Let's look into the key components of a service contract that will keep both parties on the same page and foster a smooth and successful project execution.

Client and Provider Information

The first part of any service contract should clearly outline who is involved in the agreement.

This includes the full names and contact details of both the client and the service provider (that's you).

Description of Services

A comprehensive description of the services to be provided is a must.

This section should leave no room for ambiguity, clearly stating:

  • The specific tasks you'll be undertaking

  • The deliverables expected

  • The standards to which they should adhere

Payment Details

Crystal clear clarity about payment terms is paramount.

Include information about the total cost of the project, any deposit required, the schedule of payments, and the methods of payment accepted.

Also, stipulate the consequences of late or non-payment.

Deadlines and Scheduling

A well-structured service contract will specify the timeline for the project, including the start and end dates, milestones, and deadlines for different stages of the work.

It's essential to align expectations about the project's pace and delivery times.

Confidentiality & No Competition Clause

Many service contracts will include a confidentiality and/or no competition clause, particularly when sensitive information is involved.

This protects both parties from the misuse of proprietary information.

Dispute Resolution

It's a wise move to preemptively address how potential disputes will be resolved in your service contract.

This could involve a mediation process or, in more severe cases, legal action under the jurisdiction of a specific court.

Terms of Termination

Every service contract should have a clearly defined exit strategy, stipulating how the contract can be terminated, under what circumstances, and the repercussions of such an action.

Do bear in mind, that this isn't an exhaustive list, the content of your contract will need to be tailored to your specific situation and services.

You may wish to seek legal advice to ensure your contract is as comprehensive and protective as possible.

Scope Of Work & Deliverables


Defining the scope of work and deliverables is critical in a service contract, as it forms the basis of what you, as a freelancer or agency, will be held accountable for.

This section is where you meticulously detail the work you will be performing and the results the client should expect from your efforts.

It provides clarity on what the client is paying for and helps to manage their expectations.

Scope of work outlines the tasks you'll perform and the methods you'll use.

It's your chance to showcase your expertise and attention to detail. Be as specific as possible - ambiguity invariably leads to misunderstandings.

If you're designing a website, specify how many pages you'll create, the features to be included, and the level of customization required.

Deliverables, on the other hand, are the tangible results of your work.

These could be web pages, graphic designs, content pieces, or even a fully functional website.

It's essential to clearly define these deliverables, including their quantity, quality, and any relevant deadlines.

Every deliverable should correspond to a task in the scope of work.

Sample Scope of Work and Deliverables

As an example, if you're engaged to build a corporate website, your scope of work might include:

  1. Consultation and project planning

  2. Designing and developing a custom website

  3. Creating content for the website

  4. Testing and deploying the website

  5. Providing post-launch support

Corresponding deliverables might include:

  1. A project plan that outlines the project's timeline and milestones

  2. A fully functional and tested website

  3. Content for each page of the website

  4. A document detailing how to manage and maintain the website

Always remember, that a well-drafted scope of work and deliverables section is your first line of defense against scope creep and client disputes.

Payment Terms and Schedule

This section spells out the financial specifics of your agreement. It's where you clarify how much the client will pay for your services, when, and how.

The first thing to mention in this section is your rate.

Are you charging by the hour, by the project, or do you have a retainer fee?

Once you have outlined the payment structure, it's time to talk about the payment schedule.

Will the client pay you a lump sum at the end of the project, or is there a payment plan in place?

Don't forget to mention the mode of payment.

Does the client pay through bank transfer, PayPal, or any other method? Be specific to avoid future confusion.

Project Timeline and Deadlines

As a freelancer or agency owner, one crucial aspect of your service contract is the Project Timeline and Deadlines.

In this section, you need to detail the breakdown of tasks, phases, or milestones of the project, along with their respective deadlines.

For instance, you might divide a web design project into several stages like planning, design, development, testing, and delivery.

Intellectual Property Rights

The issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is a central one when it comes to a service contract.

So, what exactly does it mean when we talk about IPR?

Well, in the context of a service contract, it typically involves the ownership of creative outputs which might include software, designs, text, images, and so forth.

Here, the key is to make sure that the contract sets out who holds the rights and under what circumstances.

The Importance Of Termination & Cancellation Terms


Contracts are not always meant to last forever.

There can come a time when either you or your client may need to exit the agreement, which is why a well-drafted service contract should always include Termination and Cancellation Terms.

This section of the contract explicitly defines the conditions under which the contract can be terminated or canceled.

Considerations For Termination & Cancellation Terms

When defining termination and cancellation terms, there are several key points to consider, and these should be clearly stated within your contract:

  1. Reasons for termination: Detailed reasons for which the contract can be terminated should be outlined.

  2. Notice period: How much notice must be given before the contract can be terminated? This could be anywhere from immediate termination to a set number of days or weeks.

  3. Payment upon termination: What happens to any outstanding payments upon termination? This could be a final payment, a partial payment, or no payment at all.

  4. Return of property: If any assets or property have been shared during the contract, terms should be set for their return upon termination.

Remember, the termination and cancellation terms are not just about ending the contract.

They are about setting the stage for a professional and amicable parting of ways, ensuring that both parties walk away with their needs met and their rights protected.

Dispute Resolution and Jurisdiction

Dispute resolution is a key component that helps navigate the stormy seas of disagreements between you and your client.

Most Service Contracts typically include a clause stating that any disputes that can't be resolved through direct negotiation will be handled via mediation or arbitration.

However, if mediation or negotiation fails, the dispute may have to be resolved in court. This brings us to another crucial aspect: Jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to make legal decisions and judgments.

It's critical to specify the jurisdiction in your Service Contract because it determines which country's laws apply to the agreement and which court will handle disputes.

Communicate with Your Client throughout the Contract

Communication is a linchpin for effective contract management, and this especially holds in the context of a service contract.

It is not merely about getting the deal signed, but rather about maintaining an open, honest, and consistent line of communication with your client throughout the lifetime of the contract.

Why is communication so vital?

Let's delve into that:

Clarity: Regular communication helps to ensure both parties have a clear understanding of the project's expectations, progress, and any issues that may arise.

Feedback: Ongoing dialogue allows for real-time feedback. This can be invaluable for making necessary adjustments and addressing concerns.

Relationship building: Communication fosters a positive working relationship. This not only makes the current project run smoother but can pave the way for future collaborations.

However, it's not enough to just communicate; the quality of that communication is equally essential.

Here are some tips for effective communication:

  1. Be proactive: Don’t wait for the client to reach out to you with questions or concerns. Regularly update them on progress and any significant developments.

  2. Be clear and concise: Ensure your communication is easily understandable. Avoid technical jargon where possible and be specific about what you need or what is happening.

  3. Be responsive: Respond to your client's messages promptly. This conveys respect for their time and their role in the project.

  4. Document everything: Keep a record of all communication. This can serve as a useful reference for both parties and could be essential in the event of a dispute.

Remember, proper communication is as crucial as the service contract itself.


As I draw this article to a close, it's clear that a service contract is far more than a formality; it's an essential tool for every freelance web designer and agency.

These contracts clarify expectations, protect your rights, and set the groundwork for a professional and fruitful partnership with your clients.

Hope this helps 🙂

Kyle & CM Team

About Author

Hey, I’m Kyle Prinsloo. Founder of ClientManager, StartupStarship & FreelanceFam.


I enjoy business and helping people create a business around their desired lifestyle. 

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