Exclusivity Clauses – Should You Sign Them?

Exclusivity Contracts - Should bloggers sign them?

Exclusivity clauses seem to be one of the new trends that is gaining steam in 2016. Several of the blogger networks are including them in their campaign agreements and they vary from lasting for 30 days to several months. Several that have come across my desk were not mentioned until the negotiating was done and it was time to sign on the dotted line. Suddenly an exclusivity clause appeared in the agreement and I was faced with a decision.

What is an exclusivity clause?

An exclusivity clause is a section of a contract that stipulated that you will not work with certain brands for a specific amount of time after a post goes live. Sometimes the clause will be general and forbid work with any competing brands and sometimes it will name specific brands you may not work with. The clause will spell out the time frame where working with competitors is forbidden.

Should you get paid more for a campaign with an exclusivity clause?

In a word, absolutely. You are agreeing to turn down future work and future pay in exchange for working with this one brand. You have no idea what opportunities might be offered to you in the next few weeks or months. If you choose to sign the exclusivity agreement, you should be compensated for any lost opportunities you might have to give up.

But the new trend seems to be to ask for a period of exclusivity at the same rate offered for a standard post. We are not taking about ambassadorships or paid spokesperson agreements, just standard one-off posts. And a lot of bloggers are beginning to push back.

What arguments are networks using to justify exclusivity clauses and how can you respond?

The brand is paying for advertising on your blog and doesn’t want competitors sharing the same space. 

Okay, I get that they might not want a competitor’s ad showing up in the middle of your post, but asking that you not work with any other brand, even in a separate post, is very different. Are they asking the same of any magazines they where they are running print ads? Are they demanding any TV stations that show their ads not show any other brands? No, they’re not. And they are paying a heck of a lot more for those ads too.

It seems inauthentic for a blogger to post about one brand one week and another brand the next week.

If the blogger is claiming that the first brand is their absolute favorite and the only one they use, this makes sense. But most bloggers are just people telling the story of their life and how different products fit into it. Take my pantry for example. If you open my pantry and look at the top shelf, you will see four different kinds of cereal from three different brands. The fact is that the various members of my family like different kinds of cereal, and so we buy a number of different kinds. Honestly, I vary which one I eat based on my mood or craving on that particular day. There is nothing inauthentic about that. In fact, it would be inauthentic for me to make it look like we only purchase ONE kind of cereal and eat it every. single. day.

The brand is paying for your loyalty.

This is where the amount of compensation comes into play. If the brand would like to purchase my loyalty, then that comes with a fee that is higher than a standard post fee or an ongoing relationship like an ambassadorship. Is the brand agreeing that any campaigns that come up in the next 30 days will only go to you? Nope. So the loyalty only goes one way apparently.

Imagine this: You are single and navigating the dating world. A guy comes up to you and asks you to dinner and you accept. As you are getting ready to walk into the restaurant, he whips out an agreement that states by allowing him to buy you dinner, you agree that you will not have dinner with any other guys for the next month (or two or six). This comes with no promise of another date or even a phone call after the date. But, you are not allowed to require the same of him. In fact, he already has several dates with other gals booked for the upcoming week.

dating couple

Does this sound okay to you? Of course not. That type of agreement comes when you have gotten to know each other better, had a few dinners, and are ready to make an arrangement that works for both of you – like an ambassadorship. If brands really like it, they need to put a ring on it!

What are your thoughts? Have you been asked to sign exclusivity clauses for your posts? Would you?