Work for Exposure? …Yes(!)*
*Under the right circumstances.
It happens all the time. You, as a creative professional, have content/services that you offer. However, the people who want those creative services don’t seem to see the importance of paying for those services. Instead, they offer “exposure.”
They’ll do you a favor and use your work on their site (to their benefit), and, in return, your work will be “exposed” to their copious traffic — which results in you rolling in money. Right?
Sometimes, I guess. But not often.
However, I’d like to propose a new way of handling a Work-for-Exposure offer.
Accept it the way you would any other business arrangement… with a contract that defines the terms and expectations.
In this case, exposure can be defined as an agreed-upon number of pageviews sent from the “client’s” Web site to your Web site within a given period of time.
You can track that easily enough using Google Analytics. You could simply choose to track the amount of traffic that arrives from the client’s domain — or you could go so far as to provide a special URL that features Google Analytic campaign tagging** so you can precisely pinpoint the amount of traffic that the transaction is providing.
** I’ll cover campaign tagging in an upcoming post.
And then, in the contract, you stipulate this: If the client fails to deliver the pre-determined amount of exposure (measured in pageviews during an agreed-upon time period), they are in breach of contract and owe you financial compensation.
If they want to use “exposure” as currency, we should be all-too-happy to accept those terms in the same way we’d treat a client who offers to pay by check.
And if they’re writing checks that their traffic can’t cash, then we should build into our contract a secondary means of financial compensation.
Are… are you being serious…?
To get into this mindset, you first have to accept that your work has value. If you can’t get on-board with that concept, you should probably stop reading. You’re not ready, yet. But assuming you can accept that…
We’re presented with a situation in which a person/company sees the value in your work (even if you don’t). And they want access to that work. And, like good businesspeople, they’re trying to negotiate a deal that favors their own interests.
And, like a good businessperson, you must do the same.
That means a contract with defined parameters and expectations.
And if they’re not willing to put some skin in the game by guaranteeing the exposure they’re claiming they can generate, then you know the actual worth of that exposure. After all, they know more about their ability to generate traffic than you do.
Put up or shut up.
You realize you’re not getting paid — even if you get the guy to sign a contract, right?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
But that’s exactly where I started this process — at “not-getting-paid.”
And, if you get some money out of the deal, that’s better yet.
But most importantly, you just gave somebody out there a Life Lesson in the Value of “Exposure.”
Here’s what I mean…
Case Study: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013
Comments in italics.
Of all the cartoons you’ve drawn, what’s your favorite [redacted]-related one?
For [Web site], I’m compiling a gallery of famous cartoonists’ [redacted] favorites and I’d like to include yours.
Just send me a link to it’s page on your website, ideally before November 18th. I’ll link back to your page (but not hotlink the image, don’t worry).
Have a great weekend,
No problem! I did an entire series on [redacted] a while back. If you’re interested, I can send you a list of my standard licensing prices.
Sounds great, but since I’m not planning on deriving any profit off the article, I’m not interested in paying any licensing fees. It’s simply an offer for free exposure among peers, to a large audience.
Free exposure… to a large audience. Remember that phrase.
No problem! I have a standard contract for work-for-exposure business transactions.
It sets an agreed-upon number of pageviews during a given period of time — which we can negotiate.
If your site delivers the exposure you’re claiming it can, then we’ll consider it an even transaction.
However, if your site does not deliver the agreed-upon pageviews, you’ll be in breach on contract, and you’ll be obligated to pay a percentage of my standard licensing fees — based on the percentage of shortfall in the pageviews.
When transacting business with folks with a large audience, such as yours, I rarely have to worry about contract breaches. If you’re interested, please let me know how many pageviews I can expect and what time period to expect them in.
That makes a lot of sense, but I can’t guarantee a pageview count. My estimate would also be a function of how many cartoonists get on board in time (we’ve asked 50), so I’ll only have that number range in a few weeks.
Tell me what you think is a reasonable offer in terms of pageviews for a given time. If I estimate that we can pull it off, I’ll get back to you then.
What happened to that large audience?! All of a sudden, when we start to start talking in concrete terms, he can’t guarantee pageviews. See… people who actually generate a large audience aren’t exactly worried about being able to send traffic around. It’s kinda the definition of having a large audience. Nonetheless, I’m happy to play along.
In this case, “exposure” would be measured in the same way as an advertisement, which is measured in CPM (cost per thousand) basis. Standard CPMs for non-targeted ads are about 25¢-75¢ CPM.
So, for example, if we set a $30 licensing fee for one comic, the math would work out as such:
Assuming a middle-of-the-road 50¢ CPM, your site should deliver 60,000 pageviews.
However, I’m more than happy to give you a premium rate of $1 CPM, which means your site simply has to send 30,000 pageviews to my site (which we could easily track with a campaign-tagged URL).
For the time period, we could stipulate 30 days.
I don’t think that’s going to work. Although I’ve had a few articles pass 100K pageviews in a year’s time, very, very few images/links have been clicked through over 30K times. I know of one time off the top of my head, and there have probably been a few others, but that’s it.
So thanks anyway, but I understand. Maybe another time once my traffic has grown.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
That large audience keeps getting smaller and smaller. Moreover look at what he’s admitting… he can’t offer me more exposure than I could get with thirty dollars of ad money. (Hell… he’s admitting he can’t come close.)
If that’s not a lesson in the value of “exposure,” I wanna know what is.