Freelance contract...what to do!

Okay, corofloaters, have a question for you. Quick background. I have been doing freelance product development for a relatively well-known company for the past year. Had a contract written that states that I will earn a small percentage of sales for anything I design. Well, nothing has gone to production, although one product is very promising but still won’t be seeing the light of day for another year or so.

I’ve put in a TON of work for these guys and really have nothing to show for it. Not even a good portfolio piece since nothing is in production. My contract expired a while back and it’s time to renegotiate.

Do I:

  1. Sit back and see if anything goes to production. could land me a lot of money or nothing at all. Chance of nothing at all is probably 80%.

  2. Ask for some money right now, and if the product goes to production, then they keep the initial payment. Only then would I receive additional money from the net sales.

  3. Buy-out of contract. Ask for a decent amount to end my contract. I would not receive any money from sales or anything. All designs would be entirely for their own profits. But I would be free and clear and with a little money for all my time.

Any suggestions?

well, in order to secure either your old project to get into production or future projects, make them give you a financial commitment beforehand… ie advance on royalties or fee+royalities. This way to recoup the advance or make up the fee they should produce the product to generate sales and increase profits right?

Royalties give them no incentive at all. So you did all the work, maybe it’ll go maybe it won’t…doesn’t matter since it cost them nothing to get the concepts. Maybe it’ll get produced in a couple years after you’ve moved on and forgotten about them until you see it at a store and have to get into a legal battle to prove your owed a cut.

Better luck this next time.


Are you counting strictly on royalties? If so, I would re-negotiate something asap. An hourly rate you feel is fair and a lower % on the royalties should anything be produced. Whether it goes to production is a moot point because you’re still producing concepts and ideas for them that they can use for their own in house inspiration. They can take these things, put new twists on them, go to production, and you get nothing. I guess you have to weigh out whether or not your time and effort is worth blowing on a 20% chance you’ll get something out of it in a year’s time or more. Me persoanlly, I’d go for cash and experience now, rather than experience now and no cash later. I can see where it might be a tough call for you, if you’re financially secure then go for it.

This is why no design project should ever be done solely on royalties. Shot a company could use your designs to formulate their own modifications, drop your products development and move forward with theirs…you gave them the idea and the research, yet get nothing in return. Always have a contract that covers at the vary least your hard costs, the royalties can cover the margin/markup.

Bend over and grab your ankles!