I’ve noticed the amount of contracts for sponsored posts increasing over the years. Remember the days when you could write a sponsored post and just publish it without a draft? Nowadays, pretty much every sponsored post you do comes with a lengthly contract. If you’re lucky, it may only be a page or two to read and be written in plain English. More than luckily, it will be 10+ pages written in legalese. My advice to you is BE CAREFUL and READ them thoroughly. If you don’t, you can get burned.
I’m not a lawyer, but I have seen quite a few contracts in my day. I’m slowly learning to decipher what everything means and what to look out for. My recommendation is to READ them over at least twice. Don’t skim. READ. Every. single. word.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN BLOGGING CONTRACTS
I’ve made a list of items that I look out for in each contract. There are many more, but these are the main ones I’ve seen in my own experience that can cause problems.
1. Exclusivity clauses. I put this item as number one as it is the main watch out for me in contracts. Remember, exclusivity costs extra, but brands sometimes sneak it in a contract for a one-off post. Make sure the compensation matches the exclusivity. Look at what categories they want exclusivity on and how broad they are. The more broad and extensive the competitor list, the more money you need to charge. Look at length of time you are prohibited from working with competitors and ask yourself, “Is this reasonable for what I’m getting paid?”. I could write a whole post on exclusivity clauses (and probably will!).
2. Insurance requirement. I’ve seen contracts this year where they require you to have business insurance. If you don’t have insurance yet, make sure you get this taken out OR purchase insurance if the contract is a well-paying one. I recently purchased insurance for my blog and it cost me around $2000 for the year.
3. Dofollow links. If they want dofollow links, RUN. To me, this signifies they are a shady business and I probably don’t want to work with them. Dofollow links in sponsored posts are big no no with the Google gods.
4. No disclosure. Along the same lines as dofollow links, no disclosure in posts is a huge red flag. Most legit companies will require you to disclose your post properly to comply with the law. I have never seen a contract where they don’t want you to disclose, but I have friends that have. Do not work with the brand if they don’t want you telling your readers you were paid.
5. Requirements. Under this section, the contract will list out how many blog posts and social shares are required. Make sure they match what you were expecting in your original correspondence. Sometimes, they won’t match and you’ll have to flag it and get clarification as to why it’s different.
6. Analytics requirements. Does the brand require you to share post and shares analytics by a certain date? Are you able to get these kind of metrics? If they require click numbers, you’ll have to remember to use a bitly link so you can track. Make a reminder in your calendar to send these analytics by the specified time. Another watch out is if they require a code to be added to your blog so they can track the pageviews and data themselves. I don’t mind adding code to a specific post, but I won’t install extra plugins or codes in my header which give them access to EVERYTHING.
7. Image use. Do you own the images or does the brand plan to use them on their site, too? If they want the images to use as their own, charge accordingly.
8. Compensation. Make sure the compensation matches exactly what you were expecting. Errors happen and usually not in your favour!
9. Ownership. Does the brand own your post and images? That’s ok if they do, but make sure you are aware of it and have been compensated fairly.
10. Confidentiality. Most contracts have confidentiality clauses. Respect them. This means you can’t be talking about the brand and your contract in various Facebook groups.
11. Timeline. Look at when drafts are expected by and posting date. If the draft is expected ASAP, you can charge more for the rushed timeline.
What are some other things to look for in blogging contracts?