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Chapter
7

Clarify milestones and timeline

Part 7: Define the milestones 

In a contract, you should also agree on milestones or points at which you will complete certain tasks. This will help both you and your client keep track of your progress and ensure that you are getting paid for your work. 

If you are working on a project with multiple milestones, you may be paid for each milestone as it's completed. This allows the client to see progress being made and also helps ensure that you are being compensated for your work.‍

There are a few common milestones that you can use as project milestones. These include kickoff meetings, drafts, client approval, finalization, and delivery.

Kickoff meetings

A kickoff meeting is a meeting held at the start of a project to discuss the goals, objectives, and timeline for the project. It typically includes all members of the project team.‍

It may be important to define a kickoff meeting or other meeting as a milestone if you need to travel for it, or if you need to do significant work in preparation for the meeting (e.g. a presentation). If these early events are defined as milestones, it will be easier to make sure that you can get paid or reimbursed on a schedule that works for you.

Drafts, mockups, and client approval

You should be clear on expectations for the client’s responsibility to respond to a draft. A common scenario you can reflect in your contract looks like this:‍

  • The freelancer will deliver a draft of the project to the client for review and feedback.

  • The client will have 7 days to provide feedback to the freelancer.

  • Once the freelancer has received feedback, they will have 14 days to revise the draft and submit the final copy to the client.

Finalization 

When you finalize a design or draft, you are completing it and making it ready for use. This usually involves making any necessary changes based on feedback, then submitting the final version to the client for their final approval. ‍

It's important to specify whether any revisions or changes at this late stage in a project would be in scope or out of scope. You should address this question in the Scope section.

Delivery of files

For delivery of files, be sure to specify whether the freelancer will be responsible for delivery to the point of contact, upload to a server, or application, for example editing copy on the client's website or applying a new logo to collateral.

However, for some freelancers, this step may represent a significant milestone—for instance, if you’re a web designer this could be the final launch of a website. That might include considerable data migration or configuration on the server. If your project involves post-delivery testing periods or other stipulations, make sure you address the delivery milestone both in this section of the contract and provide for a milestone payment in the payment terms, if applicable.

Vendor costs

Vendor cost-related milestones can be helpful if you have to incur particular expenses at a specific point in the timeline in order to meet the expectations for a deliverable. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, this extra milestone could be related to delivering printed goods. If you are also managing the printing for your client's project, you may want to add a fourth-stage payment which would cover the cost of the printing.‍

Part 8: Define the timeline 

Once you’ve defined all the deliverables, you need to specify the timeline. Even if you feel like you addressed this alongside each milestone, it's helpful for the client to see the timeline in one section. This will also be helpful for you to see if the timeline is reasonable given the nature of each deliverable.

The timeline lays out a detailed schedule for each stage of the project. This is important to include so that both parties know what to expect and can plan accordingly.‍

The timeline is important in a freelancer contract because it lays out a schedule for each stage of the project. This is important to include so that both parties know what to expect and can plan accordingly. The timeline also helps to ensure that the project is completed on time. If there are any changes to the timeline, both parties can agree to the new schedule. This helps to avoid any delays in the project.

Define any of these terms that are still unclear to you. And add these pieces to your contract.

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