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The same is true if you are feeling squeezed by your client to push more and more out of you before he commits to you - if he commits to you.
It is not unknown for a less than scrupulous client to milk an artist for his concepts and ideas, then turn around and have work done by someone else.
You may invest a lot of time without receiving a penny. Without a signed contract, you have little recourse.
In fact, in many ways, your experience negotiating contract is an indicator of overall experience you can look forward to with that client.
There is another benefit to having a signed contract.
The process of negotiating a contract requires that parties come to an agreement to terms of transaction. If you do this properly you will address various contingencies that may arise. That process alone will nip many potential problems in bud.
Hence, you are well advised to have a signed contract in hand before picking up your pencil.
Ellen Zucker has been self-employed for over 10 years.
Her site, http://www.selfemployment101.com, has articles and resources to help the creative sole-proprietor make a living and create a life.