Negotiate Like a Pro – Type-A East 2016

It’s the opening keynote with Jamie Lieberman and Danielle Liss, who are going to talk to us about contracts and other legal issues that bloggers need to know about, which they can help with at Hashtag Legal and Businessese. They know the ins and outs of the influencer marketing world, and they love what they do.

Contract negotiations can be very stressful. But bloggers need to learn how to talk to a lawyer and how to hire a lawyer.

Negotiate Like a Pro

What are your top three goals for 2017?

This isn’t a “share your answers with the class” thing. But making more money is generally near the top of everyone’s list.

There are different stages in contract negotiation.

Where to start

The most neglected part of negotiation is strategy. It doesn’t have to take a long time.

Who will you be talking to? Are you talking to the decision maker? If not, you may need to work on things so that your contact will advocate for you with the decision maker.

Don’t think of yourself as “just a blogger” without any power. Why did the brand come to you? There’s a reason. What is it they need from you that they can’t get from anyone else? Your audience, your authenticity, your voice, and your influence.

What is the brand using to measure success? (Key performance indicator, aka KPI.) Know what your strengths are that would help you deliver on the brand’s goals.

Listen up

“You need to get on the phone.” This is a controversial statement in a room full of bloggers. My business cards actually say “No phone calls.” So…

Know how to listen with your active listening skills. Multitasking doesn’t help you in the negotiation process. Just listen and gather information without worrying what you want to ask next. Listen for your potential partner’s pain points.

Start the conversation with open ended questions like why? and how? and what they’re looking for. When they answer your questions, don’t think about anything else. Taking notes can be helpful. (It’s one of the reasons I liveblog conference sessions, to make sure I’m processing the information.) Follow up with clarifying questions to make sure you have a proper understanding.

Pause when you’re speaking. It gives the other person a chance to start talking again, and you may get information you wouldn’t have gotten before. No one will remember later that you paused. But like on police procedural TV shows, a 5-second pause will make the other person uncomfortable about the silence and want to fill it.

Small talk to open conversations can be helpful for creating rapport. A comment about the weather could lead to a more personal connection with your contact.


This is what people don’t like, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Jaime is telling a story about a client of hers who had a long term relationship with a brand but didn’t have a contract. It went well for a long time, but suddenly they stopped paying. Jaime ended up piecing together some semblance of a contract from the client’s invoices and Skype conversations with the brand. It took a lot of back and forth for collections to work.

You need to have a contract. It needs to include the scope of work, deliverables, payment terms, intellectual property rights, exclusivity, etc. Jaime doesn’t recommend it unless it’s a really small deal, but you can work all of these things into a single email that can be referred back to if there are difficulties.

Your lawyer should tell you about how much time something is going to take and how much it should cost before beginning work, such as looking over a contract for you.

The strongest power you have is the power to walk away from a deal. Know your “walk away position” and stick to it. Your BANA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) is maintaining the relationship. Stay positive. “I cannot work under the specifications of this contract, but please keep me in mind for other projects in the future.”

An important point to look for in any contract is your intellectual property rights. Brands are increasingly beginning to include contract language that gives them ownership of the content you produce. You can go back to the brand with a counteroffer that allows you to retain your copyright. If the brand declines, you can come back with a higher price for your work if they are going own what you create. A $10,000 deal could become a $15,000 deal if you are signing away your intellectual property rights.

Get it in writing. Every. Single. Time.

Some brands will send you contracts. You can find downloadable contract templates. Or you can hire a lawyer to write up a contract for you. If $1 changes hands, you need a contract. There is no deal too small to need a contract.

I got a lot of the information in this blog post, but I can’t share the code

Christina Gleason (972 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Empire: Four Kingdoms. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.

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