Dealing with Contracts & Companies
Running a content-based business involve many things, however one of the most fundamental aspects probably come down to how you actually make money. Of course there are many ways to make an income while running a YouTube channel, writing a blog, or cultivating a following on some other social platform, and most people probably realize you tend to make money online from some or all of the following:
A. direct product sales (ebooks, plans, merchandise)
B. referral plans or affiliates (Amazon)
C. Youtube ads
D. sponsored product or service integrations
E. patreon or other donation platforms (paypal)
Each of these methods have their pros and cons, and can be discussed at some length, however today I wanted to go over D - the sponsored product or service integration version of online money-making.
This is when a company sends you a product, or wants to create awareness for a campaign or service, and you agree to incorporate it into your content (whether video production, blog, or Instagram posts etc...) For me, this sometimes takes the form of a straight ad that I create that's separate from a project, or it can be pretty integrated where I utilize the product while building or making something.
Working with companies to generate an income can be really great, and sometimes it is! Sometimes the stars align and you've agreed to some level of compensation, the integration of the product feels seamless, everybody agrees it went perfect, so life is rosy and wonderful. However other times, it frankly can be very frustrating, and making you question if this is the right path for you and your brand at all. Well at least that's how I feel sometimes when things don't go according to my plan.
Of course everyone's situation is going to be different, and I can only speak from my experience, but as more people are venturing into this type of work, I wanted to take a moment and share what working with companies can sometimes be like, and what power you actually have.
It's easy to think, that because a company is paying you (whatever sum or otherwise agreed to), you're in their hands completely, and you have to do whatever it is they want you to do, or sign whatever they want you to sign. And I get it, this can be tricky, especially if you're new to this. Perhaps you're just so thrilled someone wants to work with you at all, and you're terrified to possibly mess it up by appearing too demanding. And this is not just about money. Sometimes you are happy with the amount of money but there is something else that annoys you.
In general most people think it's not their place to question the fancy lawyers that drew up the contract that's placed in front of you. Quite frankly you've got to take control. There are times that some company sends me a contract that I am not happy with and I rewrite almost the whole thing. I am sure some have been taken aback by this, but you know what? I have never had any issue when I make myself clear as to what I think and want for my product – my videos.
I think that sometimes it's a good thing to be a little difficult to work with. You don't want anyone to just run you over, and think you're at their mercy moving forward. When you set the stage of a business relationship that you have values, and a method of doing business you will have a better relationship long term.
It's important to realize that you do have the power to request changes, either in the amount, choice of integration, timeline...or whatever you can think of to make your life easier, or to preserve your dignity, beliefs or preferences.
I have had mostly good experiences with companies, but there are certain situations I seem to encounter frequently. When you are dealing with a large Blue Chip company you are almost never actually dealing with that company. You are dealing with a marketing firm that knows close to nothing about your subject or the online world. They are go-betweens. They get a pile of money from the big company and have to figure out a way to advance some faceless executives' concept of how they need to be more online.
In these situations you are not dealing with the owner of a loved product that can't wait for their baby to be presented to the world on your social channel. You are dealing with people that many times don't even realize your name is not your channel name and who don't watch Youtube, and who don't go on Instagram. They only thing you've got to negotiate with is money. They often have convoluted timelines, they don't seem fully prepared and sometimes they go in and out of contact. A piece of advice in general is when they send you a contract? Read it. Read it. And read it again. Note what you don't like in it. Send an email back with the language you want and be forceful that it means something to you. If you're communicating terms through a phone call, make sure to write a follow up email, addressing exactly what you agreed to, so there's a paper trail to refer back to.
One of the areas that seems to be popping up in contracts lately are excessive intrusions into your privacy. Don't get me wrong, most of the time contracts are not evil or weird. Agreeing not to make stupid statements about them is not strange. Although, in my opinion having to agree that you don't have a tattoo or other body art is an intrusion into our privacy. Honestly, sometimes I think certain contracts include way too many odd clauses that companies frankly have no business inquiring into. And in those cases, I see no reason to agree “just because”.
I am going to leave it there for now. Over the next few months I am going to have more to say on this subject. No one should subject themselves to the whims of some company violating your rights not to sign something. When in doubt walk away. Funny thing is, you might be surprised by how often they'll reach out to you once you take a stand, with better terms. Of course it can definitely be a difficult call to make. Especially if you're not sure what power you actually have, and if other opportunities will present themselves. In those cases, I always try to remind myself that if something wasn't meant to be, then you shouldn't force it, and when you set boundaries for yourself and your work, in the end good things will come from it.
Thanks, and I'll be talking to you guys soon. Let me know if you actually want to hear stuff like this and if you have any questions or requests, shoot me a message!