As your channel grows, so will the number of business contracts you sign. These may range from hiring a manager to signing with a network. Oftentimes, sponsorships involve contracts as well.
While business deals have helped a lot of vloggers launch their careers into mainstream entertainment, others have suffered unnecessarily because of the bad contracts they signed. Perhaps the most infamous YouTuber business deal gone sour is Tanacon, the failed convention Tana Mongeau attempted to host with Good Times.
More recently, channels such as Smosh have been negatively affected by the shutdown of the network Defy Media. Because the company shut down without alerting many of its employees beforehand, many of the vloggers who worked with the company have not received their final paychecks yet.
I was forced to become a part of @defymedia’s MCN, meaning the Youtube money I work hard for filters through them. After they take a % of MY ads I then get paid MY money. This month I was NEVER paid. A bank took Defy’s money which so happens to be mine that I may never see again https://t.co/wchQKDzH1m
— Ryland Adams (@Ryland_Adams) November 8, 2018
Hi friends! I have a video ready to go for you but my network just shut down, so we’re scrambling to try to figure everything out. So, if you don’t mind being patient, I’d appreciate it. Promise it’s a good one!
— Lisa Schwartz (@lilschwartzie) November 7, 2018
Anthony Padilla, who cofounded Smosh, spoke out about the reasons Defy Media contributed to his decision to leave his popular channel-turned-brand.
In the beginning of his video, Anthony describes the bad business decision he made when he sold Smosh to Defy Media. Because he sold the channel for stocks instead of money, Anthony never earned anything aside from the salary Defy Media gave him.
When you’re signing contracts for your own channel, let these examples serve as warning signs. Be smart when evaluating your offers. You shouldn’t get involved with a company that has anything less than your best interest in mind.
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
No matter how amazing a business proposition looks on paper, never sign a contract without taking the proper steps to evaluate it. You have important goals for your channel, but shady companies or business people may try to take advantage of your dreams.
Most importantly, never sign a contract without reading it thoroughly. If you’re in a meeting, ask for a copy to take home. Read over it a few times. Highlight what you like and make notes on what you don’t. If there are words or legal jargon you don’t understand, look them up in an online dictionary. Then, draft your own version of the contract.
Next, ask the company about any similar deals they’ve done. Have them show you hard data, such as the revenue or channel growth another vlogger received. If they don’t have a proven success rate, then you should tread carefully.
If at all possible, meet with the other party face-to-face. Evaluate their body language, tone, and how they treat you. If you feel belittled or pressured, walk away.
Research the company and its employees thoroughly.
Either before or after reading a contract, research the company and its employees thoroughly. Google the name of the company alongside the word “scam.” Then, try to find the key employees on Linkedin. Look at their qualifications and previous experience.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to look up public records regarding legal action or arrests related to the company. If you’re in the US, search for the company on the Better Business Bureau.
Use YouTube to search for reviews or sponsorships they’ve done before. If other vloggers have worked with the same company, try to get in contact with them. Ask about their experiences and if they would choose to work with the same company again.
Find a lawyer willing to give you a consultation.
Sometimes, lawyers offer free consultations. Find one in your area who’s willing to look over your contract before you sign it. If you’re financially able to, then you should consider hiring a lawyer to aid you in all of your business proceedings.
Alternatively, you may be able to reach out to law professors or students at a local university. Get as many eyes on the contract as you can before you sign it.
Before you sign any sort of business contract regarding your channel, be sure to research as thoroughly as you can. Think of it as preparing for a job interview with the company. Not only will your work be representing them, but that company will represent your channel as well.
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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.