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Why you need a contract to work with brands (+ how to write one!).

Why hello there, Friday. Nice of you to show up.

It’s been a long week here, and there’s soooooo much I feel like I should tell you soon, so brace yo’selves: that’s happening. But for now, I’m sharing a little tidbit of blogging wisdom that I’ve learned the hard way in my two years of blogging thus far: CONTRACTS.

Don’t work without ’em when you start doing sponsored (that means paid!) work for brands and networks. Simple as that.

Even if you’re not blogging full-time and relying on sponsored posts to pay the bills, you still deserve to be paid for your work (remember?), and that means it’s 100% acceptable to do whatever it takes to ensure that both parties in a blogging transaction of sorts live up to their end of a bargain. Hopefully you won’t have any collaborations turn south, but if you’re regularly working with others on paid content, you’re bound to get a glimpse of the downside of sponsored work at some point in time or another. You’ve got your blog, your name, and your own reputation and work on the line (besides hard-earned money!), so it’s good (actually, imperative) to be prepared and cover your bases so that no legal drama or drawn out aggravations ensue.

A blog contract can be super simple – it’s just a way to outline expectations of both blogger and brand (or PR professional, etc.) for content, costs of their goods you’re providing, and timelines of publication, promotion, and payment.

Why you need a contract to work with brands (+ how to write one!) - on Coming Up Roses

 

  1. Start by loosely outlining the entirety of your collaboration via email. Ask any and all clarifying questions, make your own terms and conditions clear, and get on the same page.
  2. Send a more formal email once formalized details are determined. Go from the beginning of your collaboration onward, essentially offering an exact play-by-play of what working with you will entail.
    • What pieces of content will you be responsible for creating?
    • What do you need from the brand (product? a service?) to have in conjunction with the post? What are you trying, participating in, photographing to include as visual context?
    • What’s your timeline for posting and product promotion? Include any dates for drafts to be approved (as well as dates for approved drafts to be returned to you if that be the case!), publication date, and submission deadline to the brand or network.
    • How much social media promotion will you be doing, and on what platforms? Especially if you charge separately for social media promotions by themselves, make sure you clarify what exactly a brand will be getting for their money.
    • Going along with social media, is your post a part of a larger campaign initiative by a brand? If so, double check for specific hashtags or social media handles that you should be utilizing in your promotional goodies. Not only will this keep things coherent with their campaign, but it allows you to connect with other influencers on the same project and make new friends (hollah!).
  3. Once you’ve finalized logistics of the marketing end of things and your own checklist, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty details: payment, timelines for payment, and the finer print details of completing your collaboration together.
    • What’s payment going to look like? Are you accepting product? Monetary compensation? Both? If you’re getting dollah bills, make sure to clarify *how* that money is being transferred. Are you using PayPal, and if so, are fees being absorbed by you or the party paying for your services? Is there a specific money transfer platform used be the brand or networked that you’ll need an account on to proceed? Do you get paid via check? A note on checks: it might be helpful to ask who the check will be marked as being “from.” Maybe a silly note, but I’ve gotten checks in the mail and have had NO clue where they originated! Especially if you’re getting paid a month or two after a collaboration, ask up front from whom a check will be coming.
    • When are you going to get paid? Is it half before, half after? All after on a net-45 or net-60 basis? All before? This is a thorn in my own side because I don’t keep close enough track of my own accounting records (bad!), so I have to pay particular attention here sometimes to make sure I get paid period.
    • What’s your policy for no longer being able to complete a campaign by the original timeline? What’s their policy for no longer being able to participate in a campaign?
    • A more rare but super important one: If you’ve already done the bulk of the work (ie: wrote a post, took photos, and sent the whole shebang in for review before final publication) and the brand or network drops the ball, what happens next? Whether they just don’t reply with approval at all, reply late and require editing of the timeline, or reply saying new things are required or others need to be dropped, how do you handle payment at that point, and what’s your next move? I think many of these details are more case-by-case and require your own best judgment as to how they’re handled, because they’re usually more situational and personal and can’t be applied generally across collaborations.
  4. VOILA. You’ve got all of it figured out and agreed upon, so it’s time to whip all of the details into a professional document that both parties can sign and date to make it official. While having solid email documentation is a valid way to have in writing what all is going to happen, offering an easy contract kicks it up a notch and really ensures legal protection for both parties. If you’ve worked all details out via email but someone is hesitant to throw their signature on what is essentially a summarized regurgitation of everything already discussed, that might be room for a red flag. To ease your own nerves about presenting a contract, consider pointing out that you really value the collaboration at hand and you want to make sure that the best possible experience is had by both parties. A contract is just your way of guaranteeing that all expectations are met so that there’s room to exceed them!

What have you learned from working with brands? Did you ever had an exceptionally good (or bad!) experience that taught you something for the future?

I’d love to hear and get your take on this, so leave a comment below with your awesome thoughts. Hope you have a super happy TGIF after last night’s TGIT premier (!!!)…and if you feel like chatting Scandal or HTGAWM, hollah at me here.

P.S. have you entered to win 100 bucks to Marshall’s yet? Go get ’em, tiger.

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*This post is sponsored by Unilever. As usual, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thank you for...

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