So you’ve got your contract ready to go, but do you know what to do when it comes to signing online contracts? Snail mail doesn’t seem convenient, and scanning signed contracts back and forth doesn’t seem too fun either. And what’s the deal with a legally binding signature — are electronic signatures OK?
Great question! It’s bad enough so many people are out there use bad drag and drop contracts. But I especially don’t like seeing clients use good contracts the wrong way.
Because even if you use a good contract but send/sign it incorrectly, it’s like you never had a contract to start with.
Yep, you read that right. If you use a good contract (aka. it has the language you need to protect yourself) but don’t send or sign it correctly, it’s not legally binding.
And that’s no bueno.
(PS. If you need a good contract, you can grab your 1:1 client contract, group program contract, independent contractor [to hire your VA or any other help in your biz!] or online course contracts from my template shop!)
If your contract isn’t signed correctly, then you can’t use it to protect yourself later. It’ll be like you never signed a contract at all.
Which means someone can try to not pay or abide by your agreement. And if that’s the case, what’s the point of having a contract at all?
So first thing’s first: how do you send a contract the right way? Let’s get started.
How to Send and Sign Contracts to Your Client
This one’s easy ; ) At least in the United States, there’s not really a right or wrong way, technically speaking. It’s perfectly acceptable to mail, email, etc. a contract to a client. But here a few things you need to know…
If you do snail mail it or scan and send, you might end up with multiple copies. Each copy would be signed by one of you. But you wouldn’t have 1 master copy signed by all parties. If your contract doesn’t have a “counterparts” paragraph to it, then this method might not be legally OK.
Honestly, having had my own wellness coaching business in the past, you shouldn’t send contracts the old school way anyway. Not because it’s more or less legally binding — it’s just plain old inconvenient.
Instead, you can collect digital signature from your client using a e-signature solution, like Dropbox Sign (affiliate link). use a reputable e-signing and sending platform, where you have 1 copy of your contract that both parties e-sign. That way, you have 1 master copy of a fully signed contract for both of you to access, print and save.
Most digital signature platforms have free plans or allow you to send free documents. If you send lots of contracts, then you’d want some sort of pro plan on whatever platform you’re using.
Are electronic signatures legally binding?
It’s super important to note here that not just *any* platform will do. In the U.S., we have the ESIGN Act, which generally recognizes electronic signatures as a legally binding signature. But not all e-signatures are created equal, and there are a few things you have to prove if the e-signature on your signed documents is ever challenged.
I’ll save you the law lesson here, but basically you need to be able to associate the person who signed your document (a sales contract, contractor agreement, etc.) with her e-signature, if it’s ever challenged. In other words, the platform you use has to track metadata (i.e., IP address) and keep record of it for a period of time (a document sent via fax machine will not cut it 😉).
So if you’re using a word processing platform like Google Docs or MS Word for signing online contracts, it’s time to stop.
You need to use a CRM (client/customer relationship management) platform, like Dubsado, Honeybook, etc. or a digital signature contract platform (like Dropbox Sign, affiliate link) that will save this data/info for you, and allows you to have unlimited documents saved for future reference.
If you don’t need a CRM and instead need an e-signing only platform, then you could checkout DocuSign or Dropbox Sign, etc. Just check to make sure they comply with the ESIGN Act.
When I had my own coaching business, I used Dubsado to send clients invoices and contracts. That way, someone can pay her invoice and e-sign my contract before closing deals or having ever worked together. (You can use my Dubsado coupon code samvw for 20% off! Take advantage of their free trial – it’s amazing. I got everything setup in Dubsado on my free trial, tested out onboarding a few clients, and signed up.)
OK, so now that we’ve covered sending contracts, let’s talk about signing online contracts…
Signing Online Contracts
This is something I see done incorrectly all the time! I’m a stickler about this one — so much so that I dedicated several video trainings about it in my Ultimate Bundle™ program.
Typically, there are 2 signature fields:
- Yours (on behalf of your business)
- Your client
You can use a digital signature to “sign” on the line above your name. But I also recommend typing out your full name below your digital signature.
But you don’t just want to sign your personal name and leave it at that. Not if you have an LLC, anyway.
If you have an LLC, you should sign instead as “Amanda Smith (on behalf of Amanda Smith LLC)” or whatever your entity’s legal name is.
When Do I Send My Contract and Invoice?
You should send your contract along with your invoice at the same time. Do NOT send the invoice first, and then only send the contract once someone’s paid. Your client needs to know what she’s agreeing to when she pays your invoice.
And I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t work with someone until both the contract is signed and the invoice is paid.
So to recap, it should go:
- Send new client contract to review/sign and invoice to pay.
- Once invoice is paid and contract is signed, onboard the new client (send scheduling links, welcome materials, etc.)
These are just a few tips you need to know to send and sign your contracts correctly.
If you realize now you need legit contracts and you need to learn more about how to use them correctly, the the Ultimate Bundle™ is the right fit for you.
With the the Ultimate Bundle™, you get 10 DIY legal templates AND 35+ legal trainings on how to get paid, form your business, protect your content, use contracts, and work with people online.
So was this helpful today? What questions do you have any signing or sending contracts the right way? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
This post contains an affiliate link to Dubsado. This post is not sponsored in any way. I use Dubsado in my own business and love it, and want to share it with you. I may receive a small discount on my own Dubsado services if you sign up. You can also sign up to do the same and pass the love if/when you are a Dubsado customer.
IMPORTANT: this post is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not to be construed as legal, tax or financial advice. You should never implement anything without talking to a professional licensed in your area who can advise you what the best option is for you and your business.