The Perfect Questionnaire + Contract FORMULAS for Freelance Graphic Designers [Day 3 of the 12 Days of business]


When I first started out, the biggest pain in my butt (excuse me) was not knowing what to put in my questionnaires or in my contracts. I tried to find templates, but 14 years ago there wasn't much available for freelance graphic designers...that I could find.

It takes experience to know what works for you and your business and frankly, doesn't that equal A LOT of trial and error? Um, yes. Yes it does.

But, for all of you just starting out freelancing, I will walk you through the creation of your own. If I can help you experience less trial and error, I'm a happy girl! I know what it is like. I get chills thinking what I went through to get to this point! UGH!

Start Here

I always searched for specific blog posts that read START HERE. Those two words are so helpful to me, no fluff, just direction, which means progress! So, here we go!

The Inquiry

When you get an email from your contact page, you want to be prepared with something that will increase your chances of converting the inquiry to a paying client. A plain email won't do this, but my email will. If you want to learn more about the Welcome Email, click here and read my recent blog post on this. I even have the template that I used, available for you to download and use as a model for your own Welcome Email.


Once the potential client responds to your welcome email, with "I want to move forward", you send the pre-consultation questionnaire. This is a basic questionnaire that helps keep your discovery call productive. Sometimes the person won't know what they want, because of this a questionnaire helps them sit down and think out the specific questions that you know need to be answered first. This attention to detail will put everyone at ease!


  1. Contact Person: Name | Phone Number | Email | Skype Handle
  2. Business Name
  3. Are They a New Business or Established, Interested in a Re-Brand?
  4. What is Their Budget?
  5. If They Don't Know, Refer them to Your Package Pricing and Ask Them To Choose The One That Fits Best.
  6. What Is Their Timeline? Desired Start Date + Desired Delivery Date.
  7. How They Found You.
  8. Give Three Choices of Dates + Times for The Discovery Call and Ask Which Works Best.

The Client Agreement

To me, the client agreement should have all the details of what you have agreed upon from your initial consultation and any responses to your welcome email. Then it should include the legal and contractual details. I have designed a header image with my logo and what type of document I am creating at the top. I created my headers in InDesign and now have templates, so I just change the copy that says what document it is. Easy!


For the contract details, I like to keep it as short as I can, but as long as I should. Do you know what I mean? If it is too short, it isn't effective and if it is too long, it will probably overwhelm and/or freak your client out! So I found a happy middle ground for both parties.

What to Include in the Contract

  1. Estimated Costs | Include Package Price + Any Additional Fees, Like Content Writing, Photography, etc.
  2. Payment Schedule | Break Down How Much Is Due, When
  3. Fees + Charges | Fees, Expenses + Additional Costs
  4. Invoices | Include The Details About the Invoices + When They Are Payable, Along With Late Fee Details
  5. Client Responsibilities
  6. Accreditation + Promotions
  7. Relationship to the Parties | This Would State That You Are An Independent Contractor
  8. Designer Agents | This States That You Can You A Third Party to Complete the Design, If Need Be
  9. Rejection/Cancellation of The Project
  10. Start Date + Delivery Date of Project
  11. Signature by Both Parties + Date

All of the copy that you create, can be pasted into Client Management platforms. These are a lifesaver for freelance graphic designers because they allow you to create, send, receive signatures, bill and track payments received. They all have different features, so check out the different services below.

Here are some of my favorites:

If you want a very complete, detailed resource, go to the AIGA website and view their standard agreement. My recommendations are just that. The list above is not set in stone and by looking at the AIGA agreement in its entirety, you can pick and choose what works best for your business. Either way, you can't go wrong. Want to have access to my Client Agreement so you can customize it? Click the image below and save yourself some time!

The Questionnaire

I like to send the questionnaire with instructions directing the client to Pinterest to create a secret pin board. If you are creating a branding design package, this is where you need to start. Pinterest is the foundation for every successful brand design, from start to finish, it makes designing go so much smoother! So at the top of the questionnaire, you have an introduction outlining the starting point: Pinterest. Tell them how they can set up their secret Pinterest board and how to choose pins that will embody the vibe of their brand.

I call this first page the cover page, because it outlines what needs to be done and what is in the questionnaire, as well as how you will use this information to create their brand.

I learned the hard way, that if you spell out WHAT you need, HOW you need it done and especially WHY you are doing it, you will always start off on the right foot. TWEET THIS!

Below is an example of the WHY in the final paragraph of my questionnaire's cover letter.

After the Pinterest Board


YAY! Now that you have created your Secret Pinterest Board, it is time for me to start designing your mood board! The mood board contains images, textures, patterns and colors that inspire the look of your new brand. It is also serves as my reference point for your Brand Style Guide, Logo and Marketing pieces. These are not the exact images that will be used in your branding, but are an example of the style that will be used.


To do the above successfully, please fill out this branding questionnaire, so I can give you exactly what you are looking for.


All the best,

If you are serious about getting more clients, trying to avoid conflict and chaos (as much as possible), and setting up your freelance graphic design business right, the above steps are perfect for those things! Do you need more info on branding questionnaires, branding boards and the all important design process? Click the pretty button below and get all those answers! Oh and if this helped you, please click the heart and give me some love so that I know that I am on the right track. Share the love!

Jean Coelho