First overseas freelance job: What should I know/do?
Posted 10.06.2016 @ 11.06AM
I'm fairly new to Aus Infront (I think I heard about it as a sponsor of the Design Conference by Analogue Digital up in Brisbane) but recently I finished my degree in graphic design and found a couple of freelance jobs both in Aus and overseas.
While I had been studying, most of my design work was small enough that it was usually cash-in-hand with the only contract I wrote for a photoshoot (for licensing of the photos since I hadn't dealt with them before and wanted to cover myself legally). So I am now at the stage where I need a graphic design contract (on a single project basis) and a more formal business understanding for my commercial design career.
So my question is, for a junior designer, how should I build my contract (through a soliciter or legal advisor)? And should overseas projects be paid to me in the local/client's currency or my own currency?
In regard to your first question, you shouldn't need a solicitor to do up a contract for you if you're just doing small jobs. There are multiple ways you can manage contracts but most creatives do it this way (I believe):
1. Create a Terms and Conditions document outlining your full terms. You can edit this for different projects if you like to include the work that will be carried out specifically on that project and the rate you have quoted + rates/terms if the project is to go beyond scope. I usually keep mine the same as it covers my terms for all project types, but also send a separate brief document outlining the details and specific requirements of the job. There are plenty of examples online that you can use as inspiration. You will provide this to the client before a job commences and either have them sign it and send it back (the old way) or simply get them to approve it over email. This is still legally binding should anything go wrong. But you should ask them to write back with a statement such as 'I agree to your terms and conditions' just to make sure.
2. Use a contracting app like http://www.letsagreeterms.com/. This app is still in beta and won't be available for a little while (they are a client of mine) but once it's available I think a lot of creatives will find it very useful for this sort of thing.
I have one client that I work with on a regular basis and they asked me to sign THEIR contract, which states my payment rate and that I can't work with other organisations of a similar nature etc. So from time to time this may also occur and will operate as your client/designer agreement.
In regard to your second question:
It's up to you how you take payments from other currencies. If you get it paid into a PayPal business account it can be invoiced and paid in their currency and then Paypal will convert it for you. This ends up pretty expensive though as you pay high fees and their currency conversion rate is bad. But you can probably put your fees up a bit to account for this.
I do this for small jobs sometimes, but for larger jobs I ask my overseas clients to pay with their currency into my CurrencyFair account and then I pay a tiny fee to convert it to AUD and send it to my Australian account once the funds clear. TransferWise have a similar service. The benefit of invoicing in your client's currency is that it makes it much easier for them as well at tax time.
When it comes to tax time and you have to declare your income - if you earned money in other currencies and you are a sole trader it's pretty simple. You just have to work out the actual exchange rate for the month in which you received any other currency and do the conversion. Then declare it as Australian $ earnings. This is only if you still earn more Australian $ within the financial year than any other currency, otherwise if you earn more of another single currency in a year you might have to switch your 'tax residency' to that country. This gets more complicated and is beyond my knowledge.
The issue I am having is that there are so many examples and templates, some applicable and others not, that I am having trouble finding a simple contract that covers me legally and properly outlines the fees and quotes I have given (most on a site like docracy still use checks).
As you can see it covers a lot of the same stuff. I email this along with the official quote and a 1 page design brief that covers scope of work to be completed. Then my clients just email me back to say they accept.
The AGDA one includes job-specific details as well, but I just find it easier to type up a proper brief to make sure everything is clear. So it's up to you how you want to get 'sign-off' on the actual work to be carried out.