Why freelancers should use digital contracts with esignatures


Word of mouth agreements are too risky

There is no reason to waste time and money by running your business on word-of-mouth agreements. The risk is too high, and the cost of integrating contracts into your business is getting lower everyday. I use a simple PDF e-signature contract that is sent to the client through email using a service called EchoSign. This allows the client to sign digitally. They can sign online, with their iPhone, with a fax, or whatever they want. It’s a really cool service that is becoming part of the way I do business. Here are four reasons to use digital contracts with esignatures…

  1. Save yourself
  2. Save time
  3. Save the world
  4. Save money

1. Save yourself.

I’ve noticed something mysterious  about projects without a written outline that both parties agree on. They always seem to go way beyond the scope of the original project. In my experience in the corporate world and as a freelancer I’ve discovered that some form of written agreement is critical to the success of any business. I’ve cringed while projects at the corporate office go waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond scope, I’ve slapped myself as the victim of “scope creep” in my early days as a freelancer, and I’ve cried with my designer friends as sly businessmen weasel out of paying for their work.

To protect myself from the evils of miscommunication I’ve set a new standard for my business: If someone is not willing to sign a contract then I will not work with them. The only exception is for existing clients who have a history of being honest and dependable. If I’m working with someone for the first time, I’ll be sending them a contract. I recently lost a job because a potential client didn’t want to sign. No problem. I don’t want to work with them. Actually… “Thank you, potential client, for filtering yourself from my work life. There is no telling how many hours I would have lost by working with you. Please excuse me while I attend to profitable clients who sign contracts and pay on time.”

2. Save time.

The internet is fast. Use that to your advantage in business. Why wait for the client to send contract papers back to you when you could have it in your inbox in seconds? Your time is precious. Especially if your billing hourly.

3. Save the world.

That’s right. Signing your contracts digitally saves paper, gasoline, ink and everything else involved in getting a paper document to and from your client. By the way, paper comes from those tall green and brown leafy things that filter CO2 and produce the oxygen I’ve become so fond of. I mean I don’t know about you, but I breathe the stuff daily.

4. Save Money.

The 3 reasons listed above all boil down to saving you money. Less time working with bad clients means more time pursuing your ideal client. Less time waiting on contracts to be delivered, signed, and sent back means more time for billable work. Less money spent on paper, gas, and postage means more money to grow your business.


My current contract is based on a template I found here.

A contract doesn’t have to be complicated. Check out Brian Hoff’s simple post about What to include in Your Design Contract.


I loved EchoSign so much, I recently partnered with them so that I can resell their service to my clients. They rock.  Clicking the EchoSign links in the article to sign up will help me earn a small commission from EchoSign. Never worry about scope creep again.


2 responses to “Why freelancers should use digital contracts with esignatures”

  1. This is great advice! May I link to your contract example on my blog and FB?

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