How to Maximize Earnings, Disclose Paid Partnerships, & Protect Your Creative Content - Ep. 56

Last updated on
April 20, 2023
James Nord

Welcome to Negronis with Nord. In this episode, we dive into the topic of content optimization and why you should be vulnerable with your audience; FTC Compliance for sponsored content; how to safeguard your creative work; how to navigate usage rights with brands & more.

Below is an edited transcript of the full episode for your reading pleasure. Make sure to subscribe to the Fohr YouTube channel to get notified of new episodes.

Ah, New York City in the spring

Welcome to Negronis with Nord, Episode 56. Today, we're drinking whiskey, old-school style. The sun is shining, and it finally feels like spring in New York, at least for one day. However, we're jumping straight to summer tomorrow, with temperatures expected to reach 82 degrees. People often say they love New York in the spring or fall, but those seasons don't exist here. Instead, we jump from summer to winter and back in an endless loop, only getting one week of truly transformative weather. But this week reminds us why we live here and why being alive is still good. This morning, I went out on my bike, and Central Park exploded with flowers and cherry blossom trees. People are out, and everyone looks translucent but happy. It's such a lovely time in New York, and I hope you're experiencing the same wherever you are.

An IRL visit from a listener, Keaton McCalip

Today, I spoke with one of the show's listeners before addressing them. Keaton, an ex-pro motocross racer transitioning to a content creator, contacted us. We previously worked with him on a campaign, and he expressed an interest in doing more work. We talked for about 45 minutes, and I felt really excited for him by the end of the conversation. However, as I looked through his Instagram feed, I realized that I needed help to see the information we discussed. I didn't know who he was just by looking at his feed. I believe the things I learned during our conversation should be reflected on his feed, at least to some extent.

It reminded me of how important it is to put yourself out there if you want to build a community. People need to get to know you. While optimizing content, working with brands, and crafting contracts are all important, we sometimes forget the most vital aspect of all: being a little bit vulnerable. As we get more and more involved in creating content, chasing deals, and producing reels and TikToks, we can lose sight of this key factor.

You're buying into trends and trying new forms of content, but ultimately, this is about relationships. To have a relationship with someone, you must open up and be vulnerable. We talk to our leaders about this all the time at Fohr. People will come to me with problems at work, feeling like they're letting their team down, or not providing the support they need because they're busy with other things. Invariably, I'll ask if they've talked to their team about it. They'll say they haven't, so I suggest they start there. Just share how they're feeling. The leader will go back and say, "Hey, I feel like I'm letting you all down. I feel like there are things I'm not doing, and I want you to know that. I want to be here for you and help you grow as an employee and as a person."

Deepening our relationship and understanding each other more builds trust. We talk about building an audience and following, but a lot of it is about building trust and relationships. If you haven't in a while, take some time in the next couple of weeks to be a bit vulnerable. Talk about the things you are struggling with, excited about, and what you want out of life. It can do a lot, and I know it's really hard.

I was discussing with Keaton yesterday how I struggle with sharing more of what I'm doing, what I'm thinking about, and what I'm struggling with, as I believe it would engage my audience more. However, it's difficult to do so. It's challenging to take this advice, especially when you feel you have achieved traditional success. You might question whether you can share things, whether your life is relatable, or whether people care about what you have to say. However, we must remember that we're building relationships, and the foundations of building them online aren't that different from building them in real life. It all goes back to the basics.

What can I write off as a creator?

While it may be a little late for this year's taxes, it's worth noting that there are many ways to take advantage of the tax code, especially as a business owner. For example, deductions can be taken for expenses such as LLC fees and other business-related costs.

In the future, we could consider bringing in an accountant to discuss tax strategy and answer any big questions. Let us know if you would be interested in that sort of show, and we could plan it for next year well ahead of tax season.

How can I best disclose a paid partnership?

Government rules, statutes, and other requirements can be incredibly complex, making it difficult to understand what is expected. However, the FTC compliance documents are actually quite simple and straightforward. To find them, simply search for "FTC compliance document for sponsored posts" online, and you'll find a two-page PDF. While the rules may have been updated since the last time I looked, they're still quite simple to follow. You just need to make it clear that you're working with the brand and have a relationship with them. This applies to gifted products as well. However, you do not have to use the hashtags "sponsored," "ad," or "partner.”

Language usage can be important when working with brands. For example, Nike may ask you to partner with Reebok, Bud Light may send you beer, and you may create content for them using language that they explicitly request. Many larger brands have preferred language for use in hashtags, and may want you to be a Lululemon partner or a Nike ambassador.

As a content creator, it is important to make it clear when you have a paid partnership. Instagram and TikTok have portals for this purpose, and it is simple to understand. You can also refer to a pdf or link for more information, which we can provide in the bio or description of the video to save you a Google search.

That's us, continuing to provide a free service for you.

How do you develop a strong contract that protects my work as a creator over time?

Contracting is a complex topic that could be discussed for hours. First, let me clarify that I'm not a lawyer. However, there are some standard terms that are included in almost every contract.

For example, the brand can use the content on their social media channels without paying for it. That's generally included in any paid contract. You'll want to pay attention to usage terms to protect yourself. If you're a bigger creator who's being paid, you'll want to charge for usage. Make sure you're being paid if they use your post in ads, e-commerce, or emails. You'll also want to set a timeframe for that usage, with a beginning and an end, to protect yourself from them using your image for months or years without compensation.

It's important to remember that you don't want to burden your clients with overly complex legal language. While it's important to protect yourself, you also want to be a good partner and maintain a realistic approach. Sometimes we receive contract red lines that are unnecessarily complicated. For example, I've seen influencers concerned about whether a brand should remove their photo from their feed after six months if they're no longer paying for it. This type of worry is a waste of time and energy.

You should focus on higher value actions to grow your business, rather than using legal tactics to squeeze every penny out of your clients. As a former photographer, I was not overly concerned with usage rights. Many photographers are, and that's just how they run their business. I simply wanted my photos to be seen, used, and appreciated. I wanted my brand to have as much content as possible, and for my clients to want to work with me again and again. I aimed to maintain those long-term partnerships, rather than nickel-and-diming clients over every little detail. While I could have made more money in the short term, building lasting relationships was more important to me. Ultimately, it's a personal question of what matters most to you.

However, if you're using legal action solely to extract more money from brands or catch them doing something they're not supposed to, and then sending them a note from your lawyer to get more money, I'm not sure that's the best use of your time. As always, we appreciate your questions and thank you for watching. Please like, subscribe, and send us a DM with any questions. We'll continue to answer them. See you next week.

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Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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