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Why You Need A Contract When Collaborating With Brands

Karina Ramos

If you’re like most people, you definitely don’t speak legalese. Me either. Even with my short-lived time in the Pre-Law program at The University of Tampa. That stuff is technical, but it doesn’t change the fact that you need a contract for every single one of your paid partnerships. But why? And how do you figure out what to include in yours?

You would never work on a 1:1 service with a client and not use a contract, right? Why would you bend those rules you set for yourself when a brand reaches out to you? You can bet brands are looking out for their own interests, so you had better look out for yours.

Keep on readin’ to learn more about why you need a brand influencer contract and the most important things to include in yours!

Business Vs. Pleasure

Those who don’t work in marketing don’t understand that we use Instagram for business now. It’s not just for sharing pictures of your newborn nephew or your Cabo cruise anymore.

Unfortunately, our realities are often shaped by the way others around us define things. I can’t tell you how many amazing creatives I’ve talked to (and worked with) who don’t even see what they do as a business– who don’t even know they can harness what they do to make the big bag $.

Before you read any further, I want you to take a minute to realize that you are legitimate. Your business is legitimate. Don’t let your ancient uncle undermine what you do just because he doesn’t understand it.

In reality, you’re in the new frontier of business, and you could actually school him on how to make money in 2018.

This is business, baby. And in business, you use contracts. It’s a non-negotiable.

First off, it provides you with legal protection in case something goes wrong in your working relationship. You never know when a company will suddenly slash their marketing budget, or decide they don’t want to work with you anymore. You never know when a product launch might be delayed due to the manufacturer.

These things are out of your control, and you need to cover your bases in case they happen. Because they do happen.

Secondly, contracts assert your professionalism. You know that annoying, old-fashioned uncle that likes to undermine what you do? Unfortunately, you’re going to come across these types of people in brands you work with, too. The reality, though, is that your brand has something they desperately want: an amazing community built around it, rife with potential new customers for them.

Influencer marketing is still a relatively new field, so don’t expect everyone to be as ahead of the curve as you are. Prove them wrong by showing them that you take your service seriously, and they will, too. Not only will you command more respect in your working relationship, but this will ensure you get paid what you’re worth, too.

Basic Questions

In drafting your contract, there are a few key things you’ll want to include. The general rule of thumb is this: if the question pops into your head about your working relationship, put it into the contract. You don’t want any gray area, or any potential problem to go undiscussed.

First of all, outline the specifics of what you’re creating. Make sure to be as detailed as possible.

For example, instead of stating “one Instagram post,” you should write “one Instagram post that adheres to influencer’s aesthetic and features product naturally.” You should also include language specifying the sort of caption you’ll include, and whether or not that caption will be written by you or the brand’s copywriter. If you’re posting to multiple social platforms, make sure to specify which ones!

Then, talk about the project timeline. How long do you need to create the content? How long will the brand have to review your content, making any changes as needed? What’s the date of posting?

If there are any hashtags or handles you need to include in the content, outline those in the contract, too. Inform the brand that they should include every single hashtag and handle they want you to use/tag in this space. This’ll cover your bases in case they come up with a hashtag after the fact and claim you didn’t use it, and it’ll also allow your content to fit into a bigger marketing campaign the brand might be running!

The Nitty Gritty

Money doesn’t need to be an awkward subject, but for those just starting out, it tends to have this taboo shroud around it. You should get comfortable with the idea of being compensated for your work, ASAP!

In the meantime, your contract is a great place to get into those details without having to discuss them in conversational terms. Make sure you outline this area in great detail so you can get PAID!

First of all, what does your payment look like? Perhaps you’re accepting compensation through product, or maybe you’re making paper. Either way, outline that agreement in specific terms. You should also be clear on the method of payment– are they paying through PayPal, a direct deposit, or Square? Are you eating any processing fees, or are they covering them?

Will you be paid net-30 or net-15? This refers to how long the brand has to pay you– 30 or 15 days. It’s up to you to choose what feels best to you. You should also specify when this timeline starts– from the date you send the content, or the date they receive your invoice?

If the brand wants to disburse your payment on a specific platform, make sure your account is set up properly. If you’re being paid by check, make sure you find out who’ll be writing it so you know what it is when it arrives in your mailbox!

Tips on What to Include in Your Contract

Besides the big stuff like project expectations and payment, there are a few things you’ll want to consider and some little details you’ll want to include that are often specific to brand contracts.

First of all, don’t wait to create a contract just because you might be new to the game. Every paid partnership needs a contract; I don’t care if this is your first partnership and you’re only making 50 bucks from it. The sooner you start working with a contract, the more confident you’ll feel and the faster your brand collaborations will grow.

Second of all, make sure there’s language in there about ownership of content. Will the brand be allowed to repost or reuse your content in any other capacities? To what extent? Will they be required to credit you, or will your project be work-for-hire?

You should also include details about re-shoot fees if the brand doesn’t approve of your content. Reshoots are a huge pain in the ass, but this is a reality sometimes that can’t be avoided. Make sure you’re not eating any reshoot fees for any reason.

Reshoot requests can often be avoided by getting on the same page about aesthetics before the project starts. My favorite method here is Pinterest. Start a collaborative board where the brand can create a visual board that’ll give you a feel of the vibe they want before you get started.

Next up: your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure. Don’t let the brand you’re working with talk you out of disclosing the fact that your content is part of a paid partnership. It’s the law.

Your disclosure needs to be super clear and obvious, but doesn’t have to be intrusive; a simple #sponsored or #ad hashtag will do.

Own Your Contract

Drafting up your contract can feel super intimidating, I know. I’ve been there. That’s why I’ve made you a free template contract to work off of. You can find it in The Hub, along with tons of other resources for the CEO designing her own freedom.

Regardless of how you choose to structure your contract, remember it can be whatever YOU want and whatever you feel comfortable with. You are your business, so don’t feel like you have to operate according to someone else’s terms. After all, that’s the whole point of the journey you’re onto create your own.

As always, get in touch with me with any questions you have about the legal side of your small biz, or anything else you may need help with. I got you, girl! xo

Are you ready to generate your first six-figures in business? Click here now to get access to – The Hub – a resource library for the modern CEO that’s brimming with tools, videos, templates and resources which are all designed to help you up-level your mindset and create a plan of action to execute your goals and get where you want to be in your business. 

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The Edit is a round-up of the best tips, tools, and strategies designed to support you in up leveling your business and stepping into being a true modern CEO. Delivering weekly resources for entrepreneurs like you who are on a mission to rebuild the foundation of your legacy and business.