Using Canned Emails to Set Client Expectations and Protect Yourself from Liability

image by Joelle Elizabeth

Using a thorough formal contract is a best practice for many creative industries. But, we all know even when your contract has you covered, you can run into problems when clients don’t read their contracts.

So should we just throw up our hands in despair and accept that we’re going to have clients who will be suprised by our terms & conditions?

Nope. There’s another option: Canned emails. While a signed agreement is all you need to bind clients to contract terms (it doesn’t matter if they didn’t read the terms before they signed), you can prevent a lot of customer service issues by strategically including reminders of key contract terms throughout your workflow and automations.

Whether you use a CRM like HoneyBook for client email sequences (so easy) or you work a bit more manually and rely on tools like the canned responses Gmail feature, a great client workflow will include timely reminders of key policies.

How to Use Canned Emails in Your Process (and what to say!)


Summary of the Basics

“Thank you for paying your initial payment! I am thrilled to have you as a coaching client. We’ll be meeting once a month via Zoom for the next three months. Each of our appointments will last about an hour. To make the most out of each of your calls, don’t forget to send me your homework 72 hours before our first meeting.”

Important Client Policies

“We are honored to be a part of your elopement! Our elopement quotes and contracts are specifically designed for celebrations of 30 or fewer guests, so please remember to keep me informed if you expect any change to the size of your celebration.”

Payment Policies

“Thank you for making your initial payment! The balance is due on June 1 and payable by credit card at your convenience. Thanks for your cooperation in paying outstanding invoices on time; late payments may be subject to additional fees.”

In your appointment reminders

Late Arrival Policies

“Looking forward to your appointment! We appreciate your on time arrival. Due to limited scheduling availability, arriving late reduces your session time. Arriving more than 15 minutes late will constitute a no-show and your session fee will be forfeited.”

Post-appointment emails

Deadline/Delivery Timeline Reminders

“Great shoot today! As a reminder, your images will be delivered in about a month. 

“I enjoyed our meeting today! Please remember to fill out the client questionnaire by Friday so we can stay on track for our delivery deadline.”

When you deliver product

Terms of Use for Digital Assets

“A quick reminder about image use — the images are yours to use personally, including on social networking profiles. If you plan to use the images commercially–for example, for ads including social media ads, on a business website, or otherwise for publication–please contact me for a quote for commercial use rights. 

“We’re so excited you purchased this course! We’ve put a lot of time and energy into creating useful materials for our students. Please remember that all materials are protected by copyright law and sharing access information or course documents with others hurts our small business and is a copyright violation subject to serious penalties.”

Revision Policies

“Looking forward to hearing what you think — your contract includes up to three rounds of revisions. When you’re ready, please send your first round of revisions over in a single email.”

You can use the same tone you use in regular client communications — no need to copy and paste language directly out of your contract in a way that makes you feel like a boring enforcer. But always make sure your canned email policy reminders are accurate reflections of your contract policies.

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Allie Moore

Allie was a portrait and wedding photographer long before she was a lawyer. In 2016, she graduated from law school. After clerking on the Colorado Supreme Court, she realized that her heart was in entrepreneurship. She's been serving Colorado creatives in her law firm since May 2019. She also continues to operate a photo and video business and teaches law students how to serve small businesses and nonprofits the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.