As a social media manager or consultant, it’s important to protect you and your client with a written contract.
Not every short-term set of consultations needs to have a contract but should have some terms and conditions on your website to cover how you work. For longer engagements or more involved work, a contract is essential.
The contract will help spell out exactly what work is to be completed, payment terms, liabilities and what to do if the relationship needs to be terminated early.
The purpose of this article is to outline what sections should be included but your own contract should be reviewed by a lawyer.
Mandatory sections to include:
Parties in the Agreement
First state who the contract is between with names and titles and/or addresses(if appropriate) and the date of the contract You may want to also say what names the people will be referred to from then on so that you can make the contract more repeatable. For example:
This consulting agreement (referred to herein as “agreement”) is made on _________________(date), between ________________________________________________________ (full name of consultant) who’s address is _____________________________________________________________________ referred to herein as “Consultant”, and _____________________________________________________________________, referred to herein as “Client”.
Scope of the Work
List the exact responsibilities of the consultant and list what the client may be responsible for. If there is social media management where you are posting to the different sites, list exactly how many times per day (or week) you will post, on which sites and what other exact activities you will do.
Having a clear list of what is incorporated with your work will help with “scope creep” where additional duties are tacked on often in a quick email “oh can you also do xyz?”. For my clients, I often don’t mind the one-off extra quick favor. The contract will give you the leverage to say, “that was not included in the original quote, but I’d be happy to let you know what the additional fee is for that work.”
If there is something you will need from the client (i.e. images, or approval of the posts), lay out how those items will be delivered, and when you need them by.
If you are doing just consulting work, list how many sessions the contract covers. It’s also a good idea to state what date they need to be used by and how they will be scheduled and delivered (if appropriate). Typically for smaller groups of sessions, I don’t have a formal contract but for longer term work, it’s a good idea.
Timeline of the Contract and Termination Provision
Include the dates that the contract covers. If the contract is open ended or month-to-month make that specific and spell out what it will take to cancel the contract on either end.
For example if you require 30 days written notice before termination, make that clear. Keep in mind that working for a client for additional 30 days after you realize they do not require your services is an eternity in social media years.
Fees and Expenses
State the exact cost for your work and when the fees are due. If you are doing social media management, I typically would require 50% up front for the month of work for the first month and then the balance at the end of the month. Sometimes people require the full month up front.
Have a good invoicing system like Freshbooks or a way to take automatic payment if possible to avoid late payments for ongoing work.
Also state what happens with late payments. For example, if the payment is 2 weeks behind, work will stop until the payment is received.
If you have extra fees for stock images, special reporting tools, travel costs, or other things outside of the scope of the quote, outline those prices. Typically, I think it’s better to incorporate everything you know you will be using in the social media management fee, but there can be reasons to have separate prices.
Confidentiality and Ownership of the Work
Have a statement of the fact that you will keep the information about the company confidential unless written permission is obtained. Wording such as:
The Consultant will keep information about the company, the business plans, the analytics, the financial information confidential regardless of whether such information is designated as “Confidential Information” at the time of its disclosure.
State exactly who retains the right to the work done, typically the company retains that right but if you have a proprietary method of doing your social media management work, make sure you state that the method is yours.
I never guarantee results because each business is different and there are many aspects of the business you do not control as a social media manager – such as their website, the product, the sales funnel, and the prior brand reputation.
You can say that no explicit results are guaranteed, only estimated.
Mediation and Jurisdiction
A clause that indicates where the jurisdiction for disputes to the contract will be handled. It may sound fatalistic but if it comes to that point, you’ll be glad to have the course of action spelled out.
The parties will attempt to promptly resolve any dispute or controversy arising out of or relating to the formation, performance or termination of this Agreement; provided, however, if the parties are unable to reach a settlement amicably, such dispute will be submitted to binding arbitration before a single arbitrator to be held in ________________________.
Date and Signature
Make sure you have a space for both you and the client to sign the contract. If the contract is multiple pages, make sure you have page numbers so that it’s clear that nothing is left out. You can also have a space for initials on each page if desired.
If you offer some type of non-compete for a certain radius or exclusivity for a type of business, then outline that option. Keep in mind that if you offer that option, your services may then be more expensive because you are limiting your business. Some businesses like to have that offered, others may not care as much as long as you provide unique content.
This is my no means an exhaustive outline since there may be other items specific to your business or your client that you need to include. But it’s a good place to start.
Have a lawyer review your contract before sending it out to make sure everything is clear. Then you can continue to use that contract as a template but any major changes should be reviewed by a lawyer.
Contracts are not that fun but are necessary to protect yourself, your business, and your client.
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