When you receive a contract for a blog or social campaign, are you reading the entire thing? Many of the bloggers and social influencers I speak to, tell me that they are often so eager to accept the job, that they don’t read all of the fine print. They assume that these agencies or companies know what they’re doing. While most of them have your best interest in mind when they draw up these contracts, you will most likely run into some that do not. And it wasn’t until someone pointed out certain things that I should be looking for, that I realized that I had been agreeing to things that I should never have agreed to, without proper compensation. So, before you sign that contract, here are some things you should be looking for.
I’m going to start here, because this is one thing that most people don’t understand when reviewing a contract for a blog or social campaign. During my first year as a blogger, I didn’t know I was signing away my rights regularly. When a company hires you for a campaign, they are paying for your time to photograph and create content as well as for the exposure on your social channels and/or blog. They are not paying for the rights to those images. This means, they can’t just take those images and use them for whatever purposes they want, unless you are personally ok with that (and some bloggers and influencers are). Most companies will (and should) pay you for the rights to an image so they can then use them in marketing campaigns, on their website or in other forms of advertising.
I personally allow companies to share my posts, as long as they give me credit, but the rights remain mine. If they want to use those images for a larger advertising campaign, we would first need to agree to additional compensation.
When I see things like “by signing this agreement, you agree to relinquish all rights to images… company may use these images for any purpose, in perpetuity…”, I cringe. Why? Because you are essentially giving them the right to use your photos forever, for whatever purpose, without ever asking you, letting you know, or having to pay you anymore than they’ve agreed to pay you.
This is a big one because while most will pay you in a reasonable amount of time, there are agencies that do not pay you for up to 90 days after you’ve gone live with your post(s). And while some may not have an issue with this, I’ll tell you why I do. If I’m providing a service today and meeting all deadlines and getting my client exactly what they have contracted me to do, and I’m a small business without capital or savings in the bank, why should I have to wait 3 months to get paid? Most agencies are paid on retainer, meaning, that agency is paid a set amount, by the company that hired them, before your post even goes live. If that’s the case, the agency has the money to pay you, they are just choosing to make you wait for it, which is wrong.
If you see terms like this on a contract, speak up. Let them know that you are not a large corporation, you are a family who relies on these campaigns to put food on the table and need to be paid within 30 days. Many, if not most, will agree to adjust their terms. And those that don’t? If they don’t have a good enough reason, they may just be going through financial difficulties and should be something you consider before you sign that contract.
Does this Contract Look Out for Both Parties?
A good and fair contract for a blog or social campaign is one that looks out for the best interest of both parties. It’s an agreement that both parties will provide certain services and will work together to create a successful campaign for the benefit of the company. If at any time, you feel that a contract is more one-sided and doesn’t seem to be protecting your rights as well, speak up.
Are Deadlines Reasonable?
Make sure that it states when your drafts, photos and content are due and that it gives you enough time to successfully accomplish them. I recently was sent a contract that not only gave me a few days to provide all deliverables, but also had a clause in it, that for every day that my draft was late, they would subtract a percentage from my total payment. While I make sure that I am very organized and very rarely miss a deadline, clauses like this are insane to me, because first and foremost, we are human. People can’t control certain circumstances or situations and shouldn’t be penalized for things beyond their control.
Asking you to Agree to Additional Terms on a Website?
This is a new one for me. Most contracts will state all terms right there on the contract for you to agree to. Recently, I was sent a contract that stated that in addition to the terms within the contract, my signature also meant I agree to the terms on their website as well (which may be changed at any time). I have a couple of issues with this. While you may agree to the terms the day you signed it, who’s to say they haven’t changed their terms since and now it is assumed that you agree to the new terms as well. Also, the few things I found within the contract that had to be adjusted were not and could not be adjusted on their website terms, therefore, I was still agreeing to those things by signing that contract.
Are the Compensation and Deliverables What You Agreed to?
Review the deliverables carefully. While most companies/agencies will not purposefully add in something that you have not agreed to, there has been at least one case where that has happened to me. Had I not caught it, I would have been responsible for an additional service that was not included in my rate. Also, make sure that the rate specified on the contract is the rate you agreed to. Typos happen. If something is wrong, speak up and have that part of the contract revised before you sign.
Trust Your Gut!
I can’t stress this enough. Trust your judgement! If something feels off, speak up. If they aren’t willing to work with you, don’t be afraid to walk away. If something sounds too good to be true, it might very well be. Make sure before you sign any contract that you have read it throughly and have asked questions on anything that doesn’t seem right to you. Most of us are not lawyers and don’t have the funds to hire one to review every contract. It is up to you to be diligent and make sure that you are protected.