1. Identify your content needs.

In order to hire great content creators not to mention put together the kind of contract we’ll discuss shortly, you have to first define what types of content you need.

For example, you could include:

  • Weekly blog posts
  • Social media updates
  • Guest blogging
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click ad copyrighting

Identifying the specific types of content needed may not appear to be a legal step. However, at the outset, these are incredibly important things to consider, all of which will enable you to outline both your job advertisement and various aspects of your contractual agreement.

  1. Assign copyright.

The act of simply paying someone does not automatically turn over copyright of that content to the end user. Unless you specifically list the terms of use in your contract, the content creator maintains ownership of that content. In this case, you only have an implied license, therefore, you’ll need express permission to re-purpose any of that content for other things, such as turning a blog post into an eBook or social-media posts.

It’s also important that you consider protection against indemnification for images or content that may be the property of others. At the end of the day, you will be responsible if the content published on your site or in your materials is found to breach copyright law.

For text-based copy, using a service is standard practice. But with image attribution, this is particularly difficult, since there’s no good way to test the copyright short of either buying the rights or waiting for an angry digital millennium copyright act notice from the infringed-upon owner.

3. Clearly outline outsourcing requirements.

Be as specific as possible when outlining requirements so that freelancers know your expectations, including bench-marking and measuring success or failure. You may also want to include a Service Level Agreement that clearly outlines performance details and standards.

  1. Consider legal liabilities in your content.

You may need to take further precautions if the content you’ll be outsourcing is subject to any regulatory requirements. For instance, if you’re publishing medical content or financial advice, you may need to include relevant disclaimers or ensure materials produced meet certain standards to protect yourself legally.

If the content you publish on your website is something you could be held legally liable for, be sure your outsourced creators are able to meet any necessary requirements.

  1. Preparing in advance for termination.

Ideally, you’ll find in a freelancer a long-term partnership for your content creation needs. But since turnover is inevitable, it’s far better to protect yourself up front. Your termination clause is hugely important, as it sets forth the conditions under which the customer may exit the outsourcing relationship.

The termination clause needs to outline the common reasons that give rights to you and your company to exit the clause along with the rights of the contractor. It’s also wise to include both party’s respective rights upon termination with regards to ongoing privacy and protection as well.

  1. Put it all in a contract.

Once you’ve covered all your legal bases, document them in a formal written contract that both you and your freelancers will sign. In most cases, it’s a good idea to consult with an actual lawyer to do this.

  1. Take out an insurance policy.

Last, it’s definitely worth investing in an insurance policy when it comes to protecting your legal rights as a content creator and purchaser. At the end of the day, you need to be prepared for any legal ramifications that could occur from the content you publish, or, at the very least, be fully aware of who’s liable for anything that may occur.

Though the Internet has blurred the rules and lines concerning outsourcing, it’s best to stick to guidelines and follow the rules to protect yourself. If you have any doubts, always consult a lawyer.

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