Monday, May 19, 2008

Blogging For Hire - A Note to Professional Writers

If you are blogging for clients professionally be aware of several potential pitfalls that we have experienced - the unexpected use of your blog content.

You won't care if you are "working for hire", how a client uses your blog posts, but if you also sell your services to create press releases and web content, if you do not license your content or contractually state how your content is used, you may end up hurting yourself. What I specifically mean is that without restriction a client can build website content at the price of your $10 or $15 each blog post price, can get a press release written on the cheap, or even get content for their next how-to book at your expense.

Certainly this is not what you expected when you started blogging at $10 or $15 per post, but this is what has happened specifically to us, so learn from our experience! Although each client contract is different and we can be flexible, now, our standard contract states that our created blog content is licensed only for use on th client's one blog and to see us for prices on web content and press releases created from blog posts.

If you don't care that the going rate for press release writing is around $250 and you are potentially supplying a press release at your blog post price of $10 to $15, then go right ahead. If you don't care that the going rate for 450 words of content is around $250 and you are supplying it for $10 to $15, then go right ahead. Just be aware that there are some potential clients who WILL make an effort to build their site, book, or press release arsenal at your expense hoping that you simply won't be savvy enough to know any different.

We even had a client even gloat to us about the fact that they compiled our created blog posts into a book and published it as a "how to book". The nerve! If you don't spell it out in your contract, you are simply setting yourself out to be taken advantage of unfortunately.

Be particularly careful of clients who are very specific of what they want you to write in a post as they may be using it for a press release. Don't be afraid to ask why and what the use will be. Be careful of clients who give you a list of topics that look like chapters in a book, or steps to follow in a process. They may be writing a book from your content.

The bottom line is if you are contractually working for hire, you have no rights, but be aware that the price for a blog post is way, way, way below the average established market price for press release writing, book authoring, and web content creation. Don't sell yourself short or give away your intellectual property too cheaply. If you are not sure if your client is taking advantage of you, do a web search on a verbatim phrase from some of your work quoted like this "search phrase in quotes" on Google and see what pops up.

It's time to take a careful look at your contract or if you are writing without one, to get one in place.

1 comment:

Nancy McCord said...

One quick note, the law on copyrights states that if you do not spell out in your contract that you are working for hire, you own the content. But have you tried to enforce that with a client? Do you know that nearly all clients will assume that they own the content you provided outright? I would prefer to be upfront with the client in writing.

I have to say that if you ask a client who employs you as a blogger if they own the content, they believe they do! They do not understand the copyright law as a professional writer may who is closer to the situation and may deal with it daily.

Why take a chance and have to sue every client you work with, burning bridges in the process? Spell it out and deal with it up front. Don't hide behind jargon and hope the client won't use your content otherwise putting you in a difficult situation. It happens!