Hey, it’s Brian. This article is for informational purposes and is NOT legal advice, cool? Onto the article…
Starting an online business when you’re an influencer… or you’re blogging, vlogging, creating content or whatever else… is super-easy.
Really all you have to do is start creating content and put yourself out there on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
There’s a lot more to it, of course.
Marketing yourself and rising above all the other content creators out there, gaining and engaging an audience, and finally making money is a real challenge.
But the point is, the barrier to entry is low.
Certainly, much lower than a bricks-and-mortar business.
But you do have a business, don’t forget, and that means you must take certain steps to protect yourself and your livelihood – just as if you had a more traditional venture.
Things like copyrighting your unique intellectual property, following Federal Trade Commission rules for paid endorsements and sponsorships, and the like are key.
And so is using contracts to guide your relationships with partners, brands, and others you do business with.
Contracts set down important details like the rights and responsibilities of all the parties involved, the compensation and other financial matters… it’s basically the terms and conditions.
Who does what, how and when.
Putting this down in black and white will help you get what you deserve money-wise and prevent legal complications. And it will give you a tool you can use if legal action does become necessary.
Influencer Contracts with Brands
Let’s start with one of the most important types of contracts you have as a content creator.
I’m talking about the legal agreement you have with a brand whose products you will be promoting through sponsored content and other means.
A contract like this should include:
- The deliverables and description of the work you will be doing. For example, you might provide three sponsored posts on a specific social media platform, promoting a specific product.
- Any guidelines or “rules” the brand wants you to follow. For example, maybe they have words or catchphrases they ask influencers to use in sponsored posts.
- Any guidelines that lay down what you are not willing to do as part of the relationship because it might damage your personal brand.
- The financial compensation you will receive and when you will receive it.
- Any non-disclosure agreement the brand wants you to follow to protect their proprietary company information.
- The “brand exclusivity” period the brand wants you to adhere to. This is generally a clause in the contract that sets down the length of time you are not allowed to enter into partnerships with other competing brands.
- The content rights you are granted as an influencer. This describes how the brand can and cannot use your content in the future, perhaps by repurposing it into a new format.
- What happens if things don’t work out and the partnership needs to be dissolved. The contract should outline what will allow either party to terminate the campaign.
It’s important that you have a contract in place before you do any work for the brand.
It’s the natural next step after you’ve negotiated with the brand because it sets down exactly what both parties have agreed to do.
As a content creator, especially once your business starts gaining traction, you might start outsourcing some of the tasks you used to do yourself.
But you might not have time anymore or you’d prefer to focus on things that will move the needle even more for your business.
That might mean hiring a virtual assistant, video editor, photographer, or other service provider.
That makes you a boss!
And just with brands you might work with, you need a contract to legally protect yourself in these relationships too.
At a basic level, these types of agreements prevent misunderstandings between both parties and legally binds them to the terms of the contract.
They set down, clearly, the terms of the relationship.
These freelancer contracts should include:
- The deliverables the freelancer will provide. For example, a video editor might provide one edited video per day.
- The time that the freelancer will work or be available. For example, a virtual assistant might need to be online and working from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.
- The compensation owed to the freelancer and how and when it will be paid. For example, you might pay a virtual assistant every two weeks. But a video editor or photographer might be paid per video or per photo session.
- Some nuts and bolts, such as the contract end and start date.
- Ownership rights. This lays out who owns the work the freelancer produces. If a graphic design creates a logo for your social media channels, for example, you should own that logo. But it needs to be outlined in the contract specifically.
- Termination clauses explain what will happen if things don’t work out. If a freelancer misses deadlines or isn’t up to snuff… or the content creator isn’t providing sufficient direction… this clause will allow the parties to part ways.
- Non-disclosure agreements. A freelancer might become privy to business and personal information that you want to remain confidential. This element of the contract will list the legal ramifications if they spill the beans. For example, a virtual assistant might see business strategies or proprietary processes you use as a content creator. You don’t want them to disclose those secrets to others.
Freelancers like contracts too, because, for one thing, it prevents scope creep.
That’s when the amount of work increases beyond what was originally discussed, without more compensation.
In some cases, the type of work might even change.
That leads to unhappy freelancers, even if it’s not something you’ve done maliciously or on purpose.
As projects progress, sometimes the work you need done can change.
So it shouldn’t be an issue to get a service provider to sign a contract – it’s in their best interest.
And keep in mind that if you do want to change the relationship, you can always put together a new contract to cover the new tasks or payment structure.
Some job sites where you might find service providers, like Upwork, have these contracts “baked in” to the platform.
But it’s still recommended that you use your own contracts too.
And you’ll definitely want to do so if the working relationship goes long-term and you’ve left the platform to work with the person directly.
Where to Go From Here
You have to face it, even though being an influencer or content creator may not feel like a “real deal” business in a lot of ways… you certainly are.
And that means adopting the trappings of traditional businesses like contracts.
And contracts are a good thing.
They protect your growing business and set the stage for even further growth.
So the sooner you start taking contracts seriously, the better.