What if we told you that brand deal negotiations don’t stop once you receive a contract? While it may be easier to sign on the dotted line to get started on a campaign, negotiations are essential in negotiating fair rates and deal terms. An influencer contract can protect creators if they’re written well. But how do you negotiate with a brand, and what should you look out for?
How Do You Negotiate An Influencer Contract With Brands?
Negotiations start from the jump. Whether you’re pitching a brand or the brand reaches out to you, there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate with a brand (or agency contact) before you even receive a contract. However, even at this stage, there are some scenarios I’ve observed countless times that create some tension during negotiations.
As an attorney, I am usually looped into negotiations once a brand sends the contract. By then, the creator and brand had reached an agreement around the rate and deliverables. Part of my job includes reviewing the emails my creator clients exchange with brands up until they provide a brand deal contract. Here are a few traps that I noticed clients get into that you can avoid:
- Providing a rate for deliverables without asking about other items that can impact their rates.
- Agreeing to an initial rate without negotiating
- Allowing artificial deadlines impacts the way they negotiate.
- Allowing their platform size to play small.
It’s important then to acknowledge these realities and get the information you need to make a contract negotiation go as smoothly as possible (my favorite being, “I’m going to introduce you to my attorney Veronica who will be reviewing this contract”). From experience, more often than not, deadlines are flexible, budgets are flexible, terms are flexible, and revisions are welcome.
Don’t Sacrifice Your Needs Just To Be Easy To Work With
Despite how tempting it is to give in and appear as *easy to work with* as possible, each of these tactics are designed to box you into a contract that protects the brand (and consequently, that contract does not serve you). Ultimately, this leads to a less-than-desirable rate, unfavorable contract terms, or less flexibility to negotiate a rate.
However, the party doesn’t stop once you get a contract to review and (eventually) sign. Influencer contracts are meant to be negotiated. In some cases, gaps of information can help you negotiate more money, inconsistencies between emails and contract terms can help you make changes, and of course, other non-monetary but still important provisions should be reviewed to ensure you’re legally protected.
During this phase, most creators and brands will exchange “redlines,” which are drafts of the contract that include revisions to the contract. Make no mistake that not all negotiations result in all redlines being accepted, but at some point, brands and creators will reach a mutual understanding and agreement about what changes they can agree to.
In some cases, creators have walked away because a brand wasn’t flexible, or the deal terms changed, but not the budget. Assuming everyone is on board with the deal, though, the contract is cleaned up and circulated for signatures.
How Much Do Influencers Get Paid For Partnerships?
Rates and methods of calculating rates are a bit all over the place. One model that I am a HUGE proponent of retiring, however, is the CPM model because these days, we are seeing impactful campaigns happening on smaller platforms. CPM is a model that uses the following formula to calculate your rate: $.01 x (follower count/1000) = your rate.
If you’re still using this, please consider following more experienced folks or check the date of that one YouTube video you watched when you were looking up “influencer rates.” It’s a HUGE red flag if that video was created within the last two years (which is generous). It’s outdated, and most (can’t speak for everyone) trusted experts would disagree with using this as your basis.
All this is to say that there is no set rate, and it will all depend on various items. While follower count is but one factor to take into consideration, there are other things that creators consider when calculating their rates: production cost, usage, exclusivity, your expertise/authority in that niche, and brand alignment.
Even putting a price tag on any line item will differ from creator to creator. As for resources and finding people you can trust to help you, I’ve got my favorites, but please do your research! Do not let virality and self-proclaimed authority as a creator coach be the only indicators of authority and trust.
What Is In A Typical Influencer Contract?
Most influencer contracts have a very similar flow/structure. However, setting the general flow and structure of these agreements aside, here’s how I mentally categorize them along with some terms you’d find:
Provisions that affect rates:
- Scope of work: Deliverables
- Payment: how much and when are you getting paid?
- Rights and usage: how can the brand use your work and for how long?
- Exclusivity: when applicable, this prohibits who you cannot work with and for how long
Provisions that affect your legal exposure:
- Parties: who is signing this contract?
- Pro tip: your LLC can (& should) be the “Party” signing this contract where the references “Talent” or “Influencer” apply.
- Termination: can you break up before the contract is completed?
- Representations and warranties: what additional promises are you making about your work and (sometimes) your character?
- Indemnification: what lawsuits are you going to take point (costs and legal defense) on?
- Limitation of liability: what is the maximum amount of money you could recover in the event of a dispute?
- Governing Law & Dispute Resolution: What law applies? Where can you hash out a dispute? What are the steps you have to follow?
In a nutshell, these are contract terms that lawyers like me need to include because once upon a time, there was a lawsuit about it, and now it needs to be written out loud such as:
- Waiver: I’ve described this section countless times as the section that gives you the legal right to give the other side grace while still preserving your rights to enforce your contract terms
- Counterparts: This section may have something to do with having a contract where either side can sign the document in digital format or the signatures may not be on the same document page (like you have a copy with your signature, and the other side has a different copy with theirs) and that basically counts as one executed agreement.
- There are others, but let’s be honest; your eyes are already glazing over while reading about these.
To be clear, this is NOT an exhaustive list of the terms that are in an influencer contract. Creators and brands have their own way of doing things and may want language that is unique to them or the deal being negotiated.
What needs to be included in an influencer contract?
The list above is a good start (if I do say so myself). Another creator lawyer I know said it perfectly, “It’s what’s not in the contract” that gets people in a bind. So, it’s important to have a contract that clearly outlines expectations, deadlines, and how to resolve issues down the line. Think about what is more important to your brand, voice, and work.
It’s important to agree upon expectations and what form the deliverables on those expectations will take up front in your contract. When in doubt, consult a lawyer.
The content discussed in this article is for educational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between Curator Counsel PLLC and you. The material and information presented should not be relied upon or construed as professional advice. You should not take action based upon this information without consulting legal counsel.