Masterclass Execution Plan

What is a 'Masterclass Execution Plan'?

I know how difficult it is to implement the things you learn online. You probably read blog posts, watch webinars, make notes and then... never act on the things you learn. It's not your fault - you live a busy life and it isn't easy to make time for implementation!

Well, these Masterclass Execution Plans are here to save the day. If you don't have time to watch this month's masterclass, you can read the execution plan and find two things:

01. Masterclass Summary.
Below, you'll find of a written summary of the main points from this month's masterclass. It's perfect for busy designers or people who simply don't like video!

02. Three Execution Plans (Aka. Your Masterclass Homework)
I don't just want you to read or watch the masterclass. I want you to take ACTION, and these execution plans make it easy. Simply watch the masterclass/read the summary, then use the three execution plans at the bottom of this page to take action.

Masterclass Summary

What is the masterclass about?

This month’s masterclass is called 'Use Your Contract To Book High Quality Clients' and it's taught by my special guest, Annette Stepanian.

Annette is a lawyer for creative entrepreneurs. She combines her passions for law and small business to teach other creative professionals & entrepreneurs how to lay a proper legal foundation for their business.

In this masterclass, she's teaching you how exactly what to include in your design contract, why you shouldn’t be scared of using a contract, and how contracts can help you close the deal on high-quality clients and weed out the nightmare ones.

Now, onto the masterclass summary!


You’re listening to this because…

You’re scared of using a contract because you think it will scare clients from booking your services.

You’re a designer and you don’t have contracts in place. Or you have contracts, but you’re not sure if they say what they should to protect your business. 

Each time you sign a contract with a client, you want to feel confident that you’re protected and you’re perceived as a professional.

Why contracts are essential

Contracts make potential clients take you seriously. It makes you seem like a professional. When a client sees you have a contract and a plan in place if misunderstandings occur, it makes your client feel more secure and protected.

Contracts clarify each parties expectations. Your clients should be clear on what is included in your packages, so having a document that outlines this information will help keep you and your clients on the same page. 

Contracts also outline what you need from your client before you can start their project, such as website content, copy and a completed questionnaire. You can use your contract to explain the things you need. 

Contracts keep a record of your rights and obligations and protects your booty. If you don’t write things down you’ll forget what you agreed to! Therefore, in the event that there’s a misunderstanding during your project, you and your client can refer to the contract to resolve the issue. 

Contracts protect you in court. Judges are very reluctant to rule on a he-said/she-said argument. Judges love to see written proof of what you and your client have agreed to. 

If your client falls off the face of the earth, you'll have no ground to stand on without a contract and it’s very hard to take legal action without a contract.

How do I handle when a client asks me to do more than we agreed? (i.e. Scope Creep.)

Use your contract to specify the services to be performed. There are two ways to do this:

  • Create a proposal/estimate that is attached to your contract.
  • Outline your services in your contract itself.

Be really specific in your contract. Create a full checklist of the things you’re going to deliver. 

Think through your creative process and break it down into:

  • Deliverables
  • Due date
  • Fee

Perhaps identify what ISN’T included. This could be font licenses, photography, website copy etc.

How to outline additional services in your contract

In your contract, list the types of services that fall outside the scope of services outlined in the contract. 

Think about these questions:

  • What fee will I charge for these additional services?
  • Should I submit a new proposal for them?
  • Should we enter into a new contract?

Set out your payment terms

Decide on whether you charge hourly fees or flat fees. 

One popular way to charge for your services:

  • Charge a non-refundable deposit upon signing the contract.
  • Stagger the remaining payments with project milestones or periodic payments.
  • Services will be suspended until payment is received and final files will not be delivered.

Outline this payment structure in your contract and be really clear about what will happen if payment is not received. 

Now think about additional expenses you want the client to pay for, such as:

  • Stock content
  • Photography
  • Website copy
  • Fonts
  • Printing
  • Web hosting

You should specify that these expenses are the responsibility of the client inside your contract. However, you should remember not to incur these kind of expenses without the client’s permission first. 

What do I do if a client keeps asking for revisions?

In your contract, specify how many revision rounds are included in your project fee. 

Specify what counts as a revision.

Specify if there is a fee for additional revisions, the rate, and whether you will create a new proposal.

(If you have Annette’s contract for designers, it comes with a Change Request Form that clients can fill out when they need to pay for extra revisions.)

4 ways to use your contract to minimize client delays

Add an expiration date to your proposal/contract
When booking a new client, add an expiration date to your contract and proposal. This will provide a sense of urgency and push them to decide quickly whether they want to hire you or not. 

Identify client responsibilities
Be sure to tell them how important it is that your client provides feedback/payment etc in a timely manner. 

Automatic acceptance
Your contract could include a clause that states the client has X number of days to approve designs or the designs are automatically approved and you move forward anyway. 

Failure to respond
When a client fails to respond, services as suspended. 

Understanding Copyrights

A copyright does not protect ideas or facts, but the unique way in which ideas or facts are expressed. 

Any time you create anything, it’s protected by copyright laws. 

Who owns the copyright?

  • The author of the original work
  • Employer for a Work Made For Hire: work prepared by an employee within the scope of employment. For example, a designer in the graphic design department of Cosmopolitan magazine. Cosmopolitan owns the copyrights of your work, not you. 
  • A person to whom the copyright is legally transferred

Your contract should outline who owns the copyrights. If you’re a freelance designer, not an employee, you can:

  • Retain the copyright and license it’s use to your client
  • Give the copyrights to your client

If your give the copyright to the client, your contract needs to state that you’re allowed to included that work in your portfolio.

Your Execution Plan

Homework 01: Check if your contract includes what it should.

Go through your contract and check if it outlines:

  • Your payment terms
  • Everything that is and isn't included in your packages/services
  • How you handle extra revisions
  • How you handle additional services that are not already included in the client's proposal

Homework 02: Add expiration dates to your contracts and proposals.

When booking a new client, add an expiration date to your contract and proposal. This will provide a sense of urgency and push them to decide quickly whether they want to hire you or not. 

Homework 03: Check if your contract outlines who owns the copyrights to your work.

Has this month's masterclass helped you understand copyright? Great! Now check your contract and see if it outlines who owns the copyrights to your work. If not, decide if you want to retain copyright or give it to your client. Then include that information in your contract. 

Want a legit contract template?

I get it. Writing a contract is daunting and scary - I 100% agree. That's why I recommend buying Annette's contract for designers. It includes everything a designer needs, and even comes with a guide to help you understand all the legal terms!

Nesha Woolery

I build beautiful brands & websites for passionate entrepreneurs!