Back in March of 2014, Forbes reported that Wu-Tang Clan would sell their unheard album,Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, for millions of dollars to one lucky fan. We heard a small snippet of the LP, which went on a museum tour before going up for auction, and unsurprisingly, some really fucking rich Wu-Tang fan bought it. According to a release, the person who purchased the album is an American collector who paid something in the millions to own the very limited edition item. The album is packaged in a custom-made, nickel-and-silver box and RZA once said that owning it would be: “Like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.” Someone now wields that scepter, and they paid more money for it thanJack White did when he bought Elvis’ first record earlier this year. The collector also received: a gold-leafed certificate of authenticity and a leather-bound book containing the album’s lyrics and stories behind each song, and a pair of customized speakers worth $55,000, which I guess should be used to listen to the album. Unfortunately, the rest of us plebes won’t be able to hear it for another 88 years.
Whether freelancing is something that you’ve started out doing casually with machinations of eventually quitting your job or it’s the work that keeps your bread buttered, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with a sexy little document we lawyers like to call, the Client Service Agreement (or CSA, for short).
If you are selling a service, you must have all of your clients sign a well-drafted CSA before any work begins. It’s not enough to have a Statement of Work or a handshake or a friendly conversation. None of those will sufficiently cover your rump when the excrement hits the wind-machine.
A CSA, as the name suggests, is all about your relationship with your clients, and it’s capital ‘E’ essential. If you are a photographer, designer, coach, or pretty much any other type of freelancer providing a service, it’s imperative that your clients know what to expect when working with you and what their responsibilities are in the transaction.
A well-drafted CSA not only memorializes the basic terms of your relationship with your client, it also provides next steps in the event something unexpected happens. It can prevent disagreements and confusion with your customers, which in turn can prevent all manner of assorted fuckery such as:
Before we get into what a CSA should contain, let’s first take a brief trip down scenario lane so you get a good idea of what I mean about covering your tuckus in case things go wrong. If we lawyers know anything, it’s that everything’s all smiles and giggles until somebody’s project is suddenly three times the size (but not three times the money), or someone else demands a full refund because the website you spent 6 months designing and building “just don’t look right.” Take it from us, whenever somebody is paying you for a creative service, where the outcome can be pretty subjective, things can get all Judge Judy real fast. People have certain expectations about the outcomes of services that they pay for (as they should), and unfortunately, sometimes those expectations are completely unreasonable. If you have your policies clearly set forth in a CSA, you’ll have something concrete to point to when someone comes complaining about the work that you produced, making preposterous demands.
But, CSAs aren’t just for governing complaints from unreasonable clients. CSAs also exist to inform your clients–at the get-go– of how your engagement will proceed, and what they should expect from the relationship. By having a CSA in place, your client has some peace of mind in knowing when, how, and at what cost you will perform your services and deliver your product. Likewise, you have peace of mind knowing that you have a legal document to lean on if their payment is late, or you make a mistake, or a hacker crashes their site.
Now that I’ve scared you into getting a CSA (we lawyers feed on fear and gummy-bears, as you probably know), here’s a list of what a decent CSA should contain, so you can draft it yourself if need be. This is just a general list of the most important points, and there may be things relevant to you that aren’t included here. At a minimum, you should make sure you include this stuff. Because, as important as CSAs are, a crappy CSA can really cramp your style.
Sometimes business owners look at a CSA and ask, “Do I really need all of that legalese at the end?” The answer is a resounding: hells yeah!
The stuff at the end of your CSA is called boilerplate. These are standard clauses that are often found at the end of a contract to protect you if there is misunderstanding, confusion, or just plain trouble-at-the-OK-corral during the relationship with your client. The boilerplate clauses control what happens when the parties to the agreement disagree.
You may not care for the seemingly long and unnecessary language at the end addressing things like modifications, assignments and choice of law, at first glance. But trust me, when you get that one shitstorm of a client (you know the one I’m talking about and if you don’t know then you haven’t met him yet but you will; oh, you will), you will be so incredibly glad that all of that superfluous boilerplate was at the end of the contract your client signed. That boilerplate will be your fortress when a client from hell tries to storm the battlements.
For example, the Limitation of Liability clause is meant to do just that: it limits the amount of liability you could have if an issue arises out of the contract. In other words, thanks to this clause, the amount of money a problem will cost you is limited and won’t be inflated by extra, over-the-top damages.
Recently, a client of mine who works as a consultant was threatened with a lawsuit by her customer. She had worked with her customer for 3 months, and when the engagement was over, the customer wanted her to finish the projects they had worked on together. When my client informed him that the term of their engagement was up and he would need to pay more to keep working with her, he threatened to sue her for loss of profits (she was that good).
Of course because she’s a smartypants, she had her customer sign a client service agreement before they started working together. Her client service agreement included some very helpful items:
By the agreement he signed, she couldn’t be sued for lost profits, and the term of the agreement meant she was not obligated to continue working with him either. She directed him to these clauses in the contract and never heard from him again. (I assume he is off somewhere trying to bully someone who didn’t have him sign a CSA.)
Another important clause in the boilerplate is called Recovery of Litigation Expenses (also known as the attorney’s fees clause which is such a better name, right?). The typical attorney’s fees clause allows the winning party of a lawsuit to recover their attorney’s fees and other costs incurred when bringing a lawsuit to enforce the agreement. In other words, if the judge agrees to it, then whomever wins gets their attorney’s fees covered. Which is awesome, because some attorneys can be expensive (Not me though. I am worth every penny.)
Look at it this way. If your client owes you $7,000 but it’s going to cost you $5,500 to bring a lawsuit, well, it’s kind of not worth it, right? But if you can get the $7,000 you are owed and the other guy has to pay the $5,500 you spent to bring the lawsuit, all’s right with the world.
(By the way, this happened to a freelancer I know because they thought it was enough to have their client sign a statement of work. As I mentioned in the beginning, this is a big no-no! A statement of work is not a client service agreement!)
The moral of these stories is that all of that boilerplate at the end of your CSA is actually protecting you from the typical kinds of freelancer problems that can cost you large sums of your time and money to resolve.
The terms of your CSA should be reasonable, and the way you deal with clients is an important part of building your reputation and your business. So, try to strike a balance between protecting yourself and respecting your time, and pleasing somewhat picky clients. It’s ok to go above and beyond what you’ve promised in your CSA from time to time (so long as it isn’t to the client’s detriment).
Here’s one last tip to make this CSA thing super easy: use HelloSign or a similar app to have all of your clients electronically sign your CSA. Electronic signatures are totally legit and they’ll help you get your agreements signed quickly by every single client.
Now, go get your CSA together. Your conscience (and your bank account) will thank you.
Author: Rachel Rodgers from Esq
Source: Creative Class
King Krule formerly known as Zoo Kid has been a little quite since their last release 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Their lead singer Archy Marshall, opened up an Instagram yesterday (Finally. He had a Facebook account but who checks Facebook?) with the announecment “ANP2D coming soon…”.
There’s no other info on what ANP2D is or when it will be out, but KK has a tendency to stay under the radar until it’s go time. We’ll keep you posted.
Eat Pray Love’s, Elizabeth Gilbert, delivered of the most inspiring and realest “motivational” talks I’ve heard in a while. One of my biggest fears in life has been not knowing my purpose. I always felt horrible when I felt “lost” and the stress and anxiety that came from that has nearly put me in the hospital on more than one occasion. It took me a long time to realize that it is ok to not have everything figured out, and has made me happier, more grateful, realizing that the only thing I can focus on is today.
Gilbert’s speech on Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions totally nailed that train of thought.
Originally published on Foundr.
When you’re blogging, there are literally a ton of different strategies, ideas, and tips to keep in mind: optimize for SEO, use a personable writing tone, do your best to engage with your reader, et cetera. The list goes on and on.
Most of these blogging tips require a good deal of time to implement. For instance: an engaging, personal writing tone takes a fair amount of time to develop, particularly if you are used to writing in a stiff, corporate style. Optimizing for SEO requires in-depth keyword planning, strategic placement of researched keywords, thought-out meta descriptions, and more, all while keeping the primary goal of reader friendliness in mind.
Yes, these deep, detailed strategies definitely have their place in blogging, but also remember that there are smaller, less time-consuming techniques and hacks that you should be applying to your blog.
You might be tempted to think that these smaller blogging tips produce smaller results, simply because they don’t take a long time to implement. At first glance, it seems to be a reasonable assumption. After all, it is counter-intuitive to think that a small change to your blog will produce as big a result as a large change.
However, the reality is quite often the opposite: small, seemingly insignificant changes to your blogging method can produce staggeringly significant results.
If you’re not yet convinced, then take a look at the following 7 blogging tips that take only a little work but can produce big results (each strategy takes 30 minutes max to put into operation).
I’m sure you’ve heard this before in the past, but I’ll say it again: your blog post title is one ofthe most important parts of your content (click to tweet).
The value of a curiosity inducing, search engine friendly, click-through generating title simply cannot be underestimated.
It’s too bad, then, that most bloggers spend only the minimum amount of time on their title, while focusing the vast majority of their effort on the actual content.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t focus on writing top-notch post content (far from it), but you should definitely treat your post title as of significantly more importance than even your introductory sentence.
One quick way to boost the quality of your blog post headline is to split test multiple titles to see which ones performs the best.
At Foundr, we use the KingSumo Headlines plugin to do exactly that.
All you need to do is think up several different titles, rather than just one, for your blog post and key them in. After the post is published, the plugin will then automatically test each headline to see which headline produces the highest click-through rate. Here’s an example result from a post that Foundr ran back in October 2014 on 50 billionaire quotes about business and lifestyle.
Although a bit pricey (the plugin starts at a one-time fee of $99 for support of up to 50K visitors per month), it’s definitely a worthwhile investment in the long run.
Here’s another ultra-simple strategy that will boost your content ROI: add opt-in forms to your best-performing blog content. It takes no more than a few minutes and will significantly increase conversions to your email list.
I really can’t take credit for this idea, though, as it comes from Pat Flynn’s post on his Smart Passive Income blog.
Basically, Pat noticed that his about page was one of the highest-trafficked pages on his site. Realizing that he was missing out on a massive opportunity to convert large volumes of targeted traffic into valued subscribers, he distributed opt-in forms throughout the about page and saw an instantaneous 446% increase in opt-in conversions from that page the very next month.
It’s a no-brainer, really. Simply look up your best-performing blog content (consider metrics like number of views, bounce rate, search engine rankings, conversion rate, avg. time on page, etc.) and capitalize on this information by spreading out opt-in forms throughout the post/page where relevant.
The next time you’re about to start writing a blog post, do this first: hop onto social media and start a discussion around your topic.
For a practical example, let’s say that you’re going to write a post for a B2B audience on using white papers for content marketing purposes.
Get on LinkedIn and post a new discussion in a relevant group around that topic. Engage with the community by asking questions like:
If your discussion takes off, you will kill two birds with one stone.
Firstly, you’ll have a great source of ideas to develop your post from the contributing commentators.
Secondly, you’ll have a place to post your link when the article goes live, giving you some instant traction.
I’ve recently started using this tactic for my writing, and its benefits are already proving to be enormous. Not only am I boosting blog post traffic and getting some immediate social media traction, but I’m also able to develop my personal brand and position myself as an authority in my field.
Not a bad result for the few minutes required to start and maintain a simple discussion.
When using this strategy, remember to only start discussions on the social networks most appropriate to your niche and post topic. Also, whenever possible, try to post in groups dedicated to your topic. The example discussion above, for instance, could have gone into a LinkedIn content marketing or B2B marketing group.
All days of the week were not created equal.
This truth is evidenced in research collected by Buffer. The research shows that the day you publish your post and even the time at which you publish it can significantly alter traffic and engagement results.
The study revealed that blog posts tend to attract the most traffic when published on a Monday and typically get the most comments when published on Thursday (click to tweet). In both scenarios, publishing in the morning generally has the best results.
Exploit this research by scheduling your blog posts in advance for either Monday or Thursday mornings, depending on the goals you want to achieve with your blog. It takes no more than 30 seconds to do and can get you as much as 300% more traffic and engagement, as referenced in the study.
You might have thought that your work was done when you spent time crafting a quality blog post and scheduled it for publishing, but far from it. Your very first step after publishing a new blog post should be to start promoting it.
One extremely efficient and results-oriented promotion strategy is blogger outreach. The concept is essentially this:
Email bloggers you have mentioned, linked to, or otherwise attributed in your post and let them know about your latest content release. Tell them about how you’ve credited them in your post, and ask if they would be willing to share the content to your social networks and/or link to it in the future.
I do this on nearly every blog post I write, and I typically see a >50% conversion rate on my email requests, even for some highly popular blogs with already have huge audiences. This goes to prove that once you’ve done a favor for someone (by linking to or promoting them), the person is usually quite willing to return the favor.
When doing this strategy, it’s important that you to use a standard e-mail template to conserve time. Writing each outreach email from scratch would simply be too time-consuming. Remember, however, to personalize each email for the person/company you’re contacting (NEVER try to automate the process).
Here’s a sample e-mail template I often use:
Hi [name of blogger],
My name is [your name] and I’m a blogger over at [your blog name].
I recently came across [the post/page/content you linked to]. It was a great read, and I especially loved the part where you discussed [topic in post that you found interesting].
Actually, I’ve just published a new post at my blog on [post topic]. In it I talk in-depth about [more info about your post topic]. I’ve also linked to your content within the post as it’s a really solid and relevant resource for my readers that develops the info on [your post topic] further. Here’s the link to my post if you’d like to take a look: [your post link]
If you have the time, I’d love to hear what you think of the post (maybe you’d like to share some feedback/advice in the comment section?) and whether you’d like to share it to your social networks and/or link to it in the future.
All the best, and keep up the awesome work!
The email is reasonably short, to the point, and has up till now produced some pretty good conversions for me personally.
The best part is that this strategy only takes 10-20 minutes per post once you get into a flow. For that relatively small amount of work, you give yourself a real chance to be featured on some of the most relevant and popular blogs and social networks in your niche.
Throughout this post, you’ve probably noticed a couple of the click to tweet links that pop up every so often (maybe you’ve even clicked on one of them and shared this post to your Twitter — if so, good for you!).
By strategically placing click to tweet links throughout your post, you improve the post’s shareability. In essence, you’re gently reminding readers to share your article on social media, and also giving them a ready-made tweet all ready to publish.
Interlinking between your blog content’s has 2 major benefits: better SEO, and more pageviews.
When you link from one of your blog posts to other ones, it helps to spread SEO juice around and develops your site’s architecture and structure.
It also increases the likelihood that a reader of your post will visit another page in your site, giving you a boost in the pageviews metric.
Interlinking is an incredibly simple thing to do. After you finish writing your post, go back over it and scout areas where you can reference a previous post to make your content an even better resource for readers. Then, choose the appropriate anchor text and link away.
It’s downright wrong to assume that the only blogging techniques that will produce significant results are ones that are time-consuming to implement. Any one of the 7 quick blogging tips above will help you to take your blog to the next level, without draining a huge amount of time.
How do you plan to implement these efficient, results-producing tips in your blog? Do you have any blogging tips, tricks, or hacks that you’d like to share?
Voice your thoughts in the comments below!