You Don’t Get to Keep the Rights in Writing-For-Hire

By D. Kendra Francesco

No Rights in Writing-for-Hire
Excuse me?

You give up your rights – serial or otherwise – when you’re hired to write for someone else. That isn’t the same as being given article assignments from a magazine editor. It also isn’t the case when one of your pieces ends up in an anthology. Those rights, beyond whatever you sell (think serial rights, and syndication rights), belong to you. In writing specifically for another person, you have no rights to the piece once it’s paid for.

Did you understand this when first getting into copywriting? Or did you learn about it the hard way? If you’re still unsure, read Circular 9. It’s one of several publications put out by the Copyright Office. Work-for-hire includes writing-for-hire. Writing-for-hire means you don’t get to keep the rights once your client pays you.

Up until payment point, yes, the rights are yours. Once payment exchanges hands, however, you have no more rights to that piece. None. Nada. Zip and zilch. The key is the payment: once a client pays you for whatever you wrote for them, it belongs to the client. Not you.

Now, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. Look into it yourself (click on the link above). Hire your own copyright-savvy lawyer and get the full information.

Does this information surprise you? Or did you find out the hard way? Share your experiences with me.

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How Much Is a Name Worth?

Projects of any kind are more than just their name.

If you want a brochure, you’re getting more than a simple, tri-fold piece of paper with pretty graphics and a few lines of text. Content with 1200 words filling several pages is more than just words strung together; the same goes for a 500-word blog. Deep research (as a task all to itself) is more than a few quick clicks on a few popular sites.

What you get with work-for-hire is a total, behind-the-scenes package. That package includes such things as

  • reading your background information about your company and organizing it into a cohesive whole;
  • investigating what your competition is doing;
  • designing the project from start to finish;
  • detailing notes about the project and saving them; and, yes,
  • other tasks such as outlining, writing, editing, proofreading, filing, revising, phoning,

and so on. It’s a package deal with an intrinsic value all its own: saving you time because you don’t have to do it all. Instead, you can work on building your business.

The next time you look at a freelance copywriter’s site (mine or anyone else’s), please remember all that’s going into your project. The time they save you in creating your project makes its name worth asking for.

What Kind of Brochure Works Best for You?

By D. Kendra Francesco

Brochures are about as low-tech as you can ask for. They aren’t quite as prevalent as a business card. But, you can put so much more in the brochure than on a standard business card.

Kinds of Brochures

Is your brochure lead-generating, or is it more sales orientated? To be effective, it needs to be either one or the other. Services fit well in a lead-generating brochure. Products fit best in a sales brochure. Ideas? Well, those usually need more than a brochure to either present or sell.

Why do services fit well in lead-generating brochures?

For the most part, services – such as contracting, retirement homes, non-profits, and yes, writing – don’t have specific prices. Services begin with  understanding of what you want, and then you receive a quoted price. (Got Donors? Want More Donors? for my sample of a lead-generating brochure.)

So, how does a product brochure work in sales?

A product is tangible. You can touch it, see it, use any or all of your five senses. As such, a specific price is attached to it. Do you need a robe? $49.99 and six different colors. How about the latest best-seller in hard-back? $32.95. Do you want to belong to a “Fruit and Cheese of the Month” club? $399.95. It’s all tangible.

Can you combine them ?

Yes, but… Do you really want to?

Plumbing is a service, and it has varying rates depending on what needs to be done. Let’s say that Simon is a plumber. He puts his simple repair rate at $25/hour in a brochure. He gives out a hundred brochures.

For the next five months, he gets work directly from the brochure. He also gets referrals from satisfied customers. After nine months, he’s getting more work from referrals than from the brochures. He raises his fees to $50/hour because he’s in such demand. Another year goes by; he raises it again to $65.

Then, Brad calls. He still has the brochure from 21 months ago. It states that Simon’s rate is $25/hour. Brad is going to be irate when he hears that Simon’s rate is now $40 more! (The brochure didn’t state an expiration date. It didn’t state anything about fees changing without notice.) What usually happens?

Accusations of bait-and-switch! No sale for the plumber – unless he wants to honor the fee in the outdated brochure. Poor review if he doesn’t honor it. Poor review if he does honor it, but also tells the client that the fee rose in those months. Worse, Brad will probably call the Attorney General to report Simon.

Not fair, I know. But, it happens. It happens a lot!

So, yes, you can combine the brochure into a lead-generating and sales-orientated piece. I wouldn’t recommend it.

For a sample of a lead-generating brochure: Got Donors? Want More Donors?

For a sample of a sales-orientated brochure: Magic_Makeup_ Brochure

What do you think is a good example of a lead-generating brochure that you’ve seen recently? How about an example of a sales-orientated one? Let me hear from you!

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