How to choose the right type of client agreement for your blog

There is some debate out there about what type of client agreement to get into with potential new clients: a deal where you’re the brand ambassador or one where you do sponsored posts on their behalf. Before we go into the pros and cons of both, let’s first look at some basics to consider before you work with a new brand:

1.Are you in love with the brand?

Fairly obvious, but seriously: if you have any misgivings about the quality, ethical practices or claims of a brand, then don’t get involved. You have to align yourself with names that add value, otherwise it will do more harm to your own brand than good.

2. Does the client’s brand fit your own brand?

It’s highly unlikely that a fashion blogger will be approached by a hardware store, but just make sure that the brand you align yourself with speaks the same language as you. Your readers are not stupid and will immediately notice if you have sold out to someone that’s not a fit for your blog. Always put your own brand first and don’t do something you’re not comfortable with.

3. Is there a conflict of interest?

If you are in a brand ambassador or long-term agreement with one paint supplier for example, you won’t be able to work with any other paint suppliers. So make sure that you are happy with the one you sign up with.

This is only relevant for long-term contracts however. Nothing prevents you from doing work for multiple competing companies if it’s not explicitly and contractually prohibited. A brand cannot expect exclusivity if they don’t give you regular work however, so be careful of signing any restrictive deals that won’t benefit you in the long run.

4. What are the terms?

This is where it gets a little sticky. If you are the next Martha Stewart, then getting a Brand Ambassadorship with a hefty endorsement deal and loads of products for free, is totally doable. That’s how she got started by the way – by becoming the lifestyle spokesperson, or brand ambassador, for K-Mart in 1987.

Weigh up each proposal that comes your way individually. For some, product or services without any payment may be appropriate. Like if you get to go to Disneyland with your whole family, all expenses paid, by all means – go! If it’s only social media mentions and maybe a monthly post that’s required, then free product is enough. If however, you have labour intensive posts (like DIY’s or cooking) or you have to make video that is a bit more time-consuming, then monetary remuneration can be expected on top of product. This will really come down to how well you can negotiate a deal that is mutually beneficial to both you and the client.

Brand Ambassador

To be a brand ambassador means that you commit to support and promote a certain brand exclusively, usually for an extended period of time. Being a brand ambassador will require a contract with a non-compete clause. Here’s a quick checklist to see if a specific brand is a fit for your blog:

  1. you are IN LOVE with the brand, and most likely already use it every day
  2. you agree with what they stand for
  3. being aligned with them will add value to both your blog and their brand

If you cannot agree on all 3 points, then you should carefully consider whether you go with them as a brand ambassador. As mentioned above, the details of the agreement will really depend on the negotiations and the extent of what is expected of you, and may or may not include payment on top of product or services.

Sponsored posts

Sponsored posts can be one-offs or on extended contracts. Sponsored posts can be very lucrative, especially if you can get your clients to commit to monthly retainers. Brands contact me to do posts using their products, and I charge them depending on the level of intensity required. Full-on DIY posts cost more than standard blog posts, and social media and video campaigns have their own pricing structures as well.

For a sponsored post, the client needs to send you the product or give you the service to use, and you then write a blog post about it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a product review. I do monthly work for Efekto, where they send me a whole box of gardening goodies to play with and I write monthly posts for them (for both my own and their blog) using the products while documenting my gardening adventures.

Always put a disclaimer at the bottom of your posts saying that it’s a sponsored post, but that the opinions are your own. Transparency is essential to keep the trust of your readers. And avoid lots of sales pitches in sponsored posts – 2 links at the most.

PRO TIP: Clients will want to see how their investment pay off, so make sure that you keep a detailed report of your stats for specific posts and social media campaigns. 

A note on press releases and gift boxes:

Once you have a big enough following, you will be contacted by PR agencies wanting to send you things. You will be products and vouchers and goodie bags, as well as numerous press releases with new products, events, news or services. You are not under any obligation to write about these products – especially if they are not a fit for your audience – but it is always a great idea to be in the good graces of PR agencies. They might have a big client wanting to collaborate with you at some point and then you will want them to remember you!

And what if people want to write on your blog?

Guest bloggers are a great way to keep your own content fresh and varied. I have a few regular contributors on Homeology and because we all have a common goal – to build our own brands – it works well. If someone wants to contribute to your blog, make sure that they have the same voice and values so that their content seamlessly fits into yours.

I have also been contacted by various companies asking me to publish their pre-written content on my site. I have never done this, only because the writing style or type of images are not in line with the rest of my posts, or simply because it’s not a fit. Some of them have even offered to pay me to publish one of their articles, but if the content is not right, I won’t publish it. I have also been asked to include a link in one of my existing articles for a fee, but a bit of research revealed that inserting random links into your blog will hurt your Google ranking so I would seriously advise against that.

Depending on your specific situation, getting products or materials or vouchers or whatever may seem like a dream. But from a business point of view – which is ultimately what you’re trying to achieve here: a sustainable business – a new GHD won’t pay the bills – even if your hair looks salon-fabulous. So always carefully consider what kind of agreements you get yourself into, and remember: put your own brand first!

Happy Blogging!

PS: if you like my articles on pro-blogging, please sign up for my book about it here – I’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready! g x

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