Warning, Blogger rant ahead. I’m taking off my DIY educator hat today and stepping up on my soapbox (tutorial on how to build a soapbox coming soon.)
I’ve shared these thoughts with several of my blogger friends and colleagues. But, I think it’s high time to pick up my megaphone to share it with the masses.
Sponsored posts are the bread and butter for many full-time bloggers. Although I chose to write several sponsored posts a year…
…Here are the 3 Things I Will NEVER Do for a Sponsored Post:
1. I WILL NEVER write about every brand that waves cash or free product in my face, UNLESS I absolutely love the product/service/etc. Sponsored posts can provide significant income to a full-time blogger. But, it’s important not to become a sponsored post whore. If you take every sponsored post that comes through your email, it can weaken your own brand. I have tried to remain true to my word that I’ll only share the products that I love with my readers. Have there been tools that I loved at first but then found a better one later? Yes, but I will take the time to go back and update the post letting you know that I have new feedback (like here or here.) Ultimately, I won’t share anything that I wouldn’t give a positive review to. I won’t mention any product that I wouldn’t refer to my closest friend or my own mother. Why? Because in my opinion, a blogger is only as good as their word. If you tout any product that appears before you, your readers will eventually stop believing you.
2. I will NEVER write a sponsored post or product review without disclosing it to my readers. This is a particularly sore spot because I see countless bloggers and celebrities who will gladly accept free goodies and mention them on social media (or their blogs) without a single note that they were paid or that they received the products for free. WTF! Why wouldn’t you mention it? After all, it is required by the FTC. Do you really think that your followers are stupid enough to not realize that the product you’ve just linked to ten times wasn’t handed to you in a neat little bow wrapped package? I’ve seen bloggers who have been touting without disclosure for years. They promote companies, tools and the like without one single mention that they got it for free or, worse yet, they were paid to mention the product. I urge you to stand up and make some noise. Let celebrities and bloggers know that you demand full disclosures. Don’t be fooled, demand to know.
3. I will NEVER sign a WORK-FOR-HIRE or other type contracts. This is a huge no-no for any artist, writer, or content creator. Why? Because a “work-for-hire” type contract says that anything you create (photos, text, slides, graphics, products, etc.) is the sole property of the company that is paying you to create. You may think it’s not a big deal, but it is. Say, for example, you took some photos for a sponsored post of a chair. One of the photos is a wider shot of the chair in your living room. Two years later, Better Homes and Gardens wants to use that image on their website and will give you credit. Guess what! Legally you don’t own that image. The brand that had you sign the work-for-hire contract does. And worse yet, they could legally ask you to remove that entire post and all the photos from your blog because they own the copyrights (although this is a doubtful scenario, it could happen.) The brand can do whatever they want with your photos because they own them! They can sell them to a magazine; use them in their own marketing; make t-shirts with your image and sell them; etc. etc. etc. Work-for-hire contracts are the worst for a creator. It basically states that you are an employee of the company for the time you are creating for them. In return, you don’t receive any benefits like health insurance, life insurance, and other benefits.
Next time you see those three little words (work-for-hire) in a contract, run the other way. Refuse to sign it. Hopefully if we all speak up, these contracts will cease to exist.
What can you do if you really want to work with the brand that sent you a work-for-hire type contract? Explain to them why you can’t sign it. Ask them to change the wording. Offer to sign contracts that give them “exclusive rights to use the images for the specific campaign”. But, make sure the new contract states that you retain the copyrights.
Okay, stepping down now. Let’s get back to the DIY tutorials!
Disclosure: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. If you have more questions about work-for-hire contracts, consult a copyright attorney.