I can’t believe that Rachel Mae Smith of The Crafted Life and I only met in person late this summer. We met when I had the chance to take a joint workshop from her and Lisa Anderson Shaffer. I’ve been following Rachel’s blog for ages and am a big fan of her work. And proof positive are several projects she’s inspired scattered throughout my home. (Like this one, and this one, and this one.)
Without diving into the nitty gritty, tell us a little about a time you learned the “legal” ropes…
When I first started blogging, I really wanted to get my name out there, so I took a few unpaid contributing gigs. I was initially contacted by sites who ensured me that their loads of traffic would be payment enough, so it seemed like a thing to try. What I didn’t realize was the site wanted my work entirely. They changed the language of my post from I to we and removed any credit to me. In a nutshell, my work was stolen.
They changed the language of my post from I to we and removed any credit to me. In a nutshell, my work was stolen.
Yuck, that doesn’t sound fun, how did you feel at that moment?
I felt taken advantage of, but mainly angry. I guess I didn’t realize that someone would do that, which is my own fault.
Did this impact your creative business? How?
Now when I take contributing gigs, I make sure all the expectations are clear and written upfront. If I’m being paid, I make sure to retain the rights to my photography (important if a magazine wants to republish your work). I also will ask for a set number of social shares if the work happens to be unpaid. It’s best to know what you’re getting into before doing the work.
Now when I take contributing gigs, I make sure all the expectations are clear and written upfront.
What ropes did you learn from going through this experience?
Don’t expect businesses to be kind and treat you fairly, just because that’s how you do business. Lay out everything upfront, and get what you’re worth.
How can you avoid this?
I think the big lesson Rachel learned in this process was the power of the contract. (Although she didn’t call it that.) Contracts can seem scary, but they are just there to establish boundaries and expectations. They outline what is okay, what isn’t okay, and how you both plan on treating each other.
Putting things in writing means that you don’t assume that they run their business the same way that you do. It gives you the ability to read, how they intend to treat you. And then you have the opportunity to agree or disagree with their what they’ve laid out.
Putting things in writing means that you don’t assume that they run their business the same way that you do.
You should also remember that for someone else to:
- own your copyright
- be the one and only person allowed to use it
the Copyright Act requires that you have a written contract in place. (That is unless you are an employee.)
And sure contracts can be long ol’ documents stuffed with legalese. But they don’t have to be that way. In fact, you only need to include three little things in order for your contract to be valid.
And if you want help putting together your contract, either as the blog owner or the guest contributor, you can read exactly what to include in your guest contributor contract and grab a free checklist here.
Contracts make sure everyone is on the same page, and that no one feels taken advantage of.
Have you ever jumped into a deal without a contract and later regretted it? Share your experience in the comments.
Want to connect with Rachel? Then I’d first start following her amazing Instagram account. (Seriously, she’s one of my Instagram heroes. She’s got an amazing branded, cohesive, but still personal account.) And if your house needs a pick-me-up, hop over to her website and find the perfect project for this weekend.