Over the past few years of freelancing, I’ve worked without a contract once (for a family friend.)

A contract not only protects you, but it also provides solid guidelines for the project. It clearly outlines what is expected of both parties and what happens if one party doesn’t deliver.

I always work with a contract and you should too. There is just too much at stake to go without one.

Now that you know you need a contract, what exactly should you include it?

This is one of the toughest questions freelancers ask. Most of you are not lawyers (although we do have to play the part), so when it comes to legal issues and parameters, you might feel a little lost.

Tuts+ has a put together a complete guide that will help you create brilliant contracts. They cover all of the bases including why you need a contract, how to go about creating one, and what areas you should focus on.

3. Key Areas to Focus On

Whichever approach you take, you’ll need to make sure that the contract covers certain key areas. You may have your own priorities based on the type of work you do and what’s important to you, but these things will be important to include in most freelance contracts:

Payment Amount and Terms

It’s natural to focus on the bottom line: how much you are getting paid. But there are many other details you need to include. When will you be paid, for a start? Is there an upfront fee? Do you get paid on the completion of milestones in the project? If so, how are they defined? For all payments, be sure to include a deadline, e.g. within 30 days of completion, so that clients can’t boost their own cash flow at your expense.”

Be sure check out the full guide at Tuts+.