The Ultimate Guide to Joint Venture Webinar Contracts
This is a guest post by Jackie Jade. Jackie is an attorney and a blogger. She helps put the scary legal side of business into easy to understand terms for other bloggers and small business owners. She has built up her blog while working full time and aims to show other bloggers how they can easily do the same (it’s all about that time management!)
Legal Disclaimer: I am an attorney, but I am not your attorney. The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am not liable for any losses or damages related to actions or failures to act related to the content in this article. If you need specific legal advice, consult with an attorney who specializes in your subject matter and jurisdiction.
Webinars are one of the BEST, if not THE best, ways to connect with your audience. You get to talk directly to your audience and show them what a smarty pants you are.
(But you don’t need me to tell you how awesome webinars are, right? Mariah absolutely has that covered!)
One way to really up your webinar game is to do a joint venture webinar where you partner with another blogger.
This is so great because you’re bringing two great minds together, but even better – you’re also bringing together TWO audiences.
You get to reach another audience, build your list and have great potential for growth. It’s an all around win for everyone involved.
Today I want to talk about the unfortunate situations where a joint venture webinar collaboration can go wrong.
Maybe the other person doesn’t promote your registration link like she promised she would, or she doesn’t send you a copy of the webinar slides or the webinar recording, or she starts selling the webinar for profit, or she never gets you your cut of the bundle income.
Most of the time partnerships go off without a hitch. Other business owners want to grow their business and create profitable, professional and friendly relationships, so it’s no sweat. But it just takes that ONE TIME for something shitty to happen and you’re totally screwed.
So, although we always hope for the best, I want to prepare you for the worst.
Sound gloomy? Well, I’m an attorney and that’s what we do – we hope for the best but we prepare for the worst. Cheery, huh?
But I’m not here to scare you – I just want to educate you so that you can also protect yourself and your business from the worst case scenarios.
99.999% of the time your collaborations with other business owners will be smooth sailing, but today’s post is all about the 1 time out of million where something can go wrong and how to protect yourself.
What is a contract?
First let’s quickly discuss contracts 101. (I promise to make this painless.) A contract is basically a “meeting of the minds.” This means that both parties need to agree in order for the contract to be valid. In a contract, you want to lay out everything involved in your upcoming partnership. You want all the details ironed out so that you know you’re both on the same page. The contract should include both of your obligations, how you’ll resolve disputes and anything else you can think of. The contract is your safeguard IN CASE something goes wrong.
Contracts are helpful because, once the contract is in place, you and your partner can go back to being amazing creative bad asses. You no longer need to work about the legal details because the contract is in place to reconcile any differences that may arise.
Okay, so I need a contract. How do I write one?
Of course, you can hire a lawyer to write a contract for you. (Hi, that’s how we stay in business!) You can also grab a legal template and customize it to your own needs. Or you can just write your own contract. A contract doesn’t need to be written in fancy legalese by someone with a law degree in order to be valid. As long as it’s a clear “meeting of the minds,” a court will likely rely on your contract as the agreement between you and your JV partner (should an issue arise).
If you decide to diy your contract, no sweat. You just want to make sure you include everything that you can think of. Imagine you have a crystal ball and can look into the future to foresee any problems that COULD come up. Think of all those scenarios and include language to prevent those bad things from happening. Obviously a million things could happen – the internet could explode or the other person could get kidnapped by aliens. But really the main things we want to worry about are related to: money and attribution. You obviously want to make sure that you get paid. You also want to be sure that the other person doesn’t end up claiming the work solely as her own.
Once you’ve thought up all the (reasonable) nightmare scenarios, you now know what you want to include in your contract! So now let’s get into writing this sucker.
What should my contract include?
So you now know your contract doesn’t have to be all fancy schmancy in order to be valid. It can be typed out in a Word document or a series of emails can be considered a contract as well. However, it’s best to have ALL your contract terms and everything that you both agree to in one place / one document. That just makes it the easiest.
I would suggest that you create (or have someone else create for you) a template contract that you can use for every JV webinar. It will include all of your general terms that you want. Once you decide to work with someone else, just fill in the specifics and send it over to the other person. If they agree – BAM, you’re good to go. However, you should be prepared if they DON’T agree with some of your terms. In that case, work together and figure out something that you works for both of you and is FAIR.
Speaking of, let’s quickly discuss fairness… You obviously want your contract and its terms to be fair to you. BUT that doesn’t mean you should include terms that would screw the other person over. Remember, you want this to be a mutually beneficial relationship. So don’t include something like “I get 100% of the profits and you get nothing” because that is just shitty. (Obviously.) Include terms that are equitable and fair to BOTH of you (remember that whole “meeting of the minds” thing?) So work on creating a template contract that is reasonable. Your contract should include at the very least the following things (but you can also include anything else that would pertain to your situation):
Division of tasks
Lay out who will be doing what, such as setting up the sign up page, setting up the live page, creating the slide deck, selling the bundle, etc.
You obviously need to know the date/time of your webinar. But you should also set other deadlines, such as when you’ll start promoting, when you will each have your slides / information for the slides completed, how long the webinar will be live, how long your bundle offer will be sold. Think of any deadlines so you aren’t scrambling at the last second.
It’s a good idea to include a paragraph about the scope of your partnership. For example, are you just partnering for one webinar on June 1? Or is it a series of monthly webinars? Lay out the scope of your relationship so there aren’t any issues later.
This is obviously a big one. If you are offering a joint bundle, figure out how you will get paid, what the distribution is going to be, etc. Also take into account that some services (such as Teachable) take a fee, so determine what you will both get after any fees are taken out. You don’t want someone thinking they are getting 50%, when it’s really only 45% because of fees.
Make sure that you’re on the same page as far as marketing/promoting is concerned. If one of you is sending out 5 emails to your list of 5,000 people and the other person is only posting it on Twitter once or twice, that doesn’t seem like an even distribution. Decide how much you will both be promoting.
One huge reason you’re doing a webinar is in order to grow your email list. Decide how you’ll be collecting email addresses. I suggest that each person sets up a sign up page and you send sign ups to the other person’s page.
For example, if I was doing a webinar with Mariah, I’d use her sign up link in all my promotions, so she would get any sign ups whenever I promote the webinar. Likewise, Mariah would send any sign ups from her promotions to MY sign up page.
This way, you’re each getting emails from the OTHER person’s audience.
As far as sharing email addresses, don't do it! It's illegal.
If you are worried that one person is getting the better end of the bargain (such as if one person’s audience is way bigger), consider deciding between yourselves on a different monetary split for the bundle package, so that the partnership is beneficial to BOTH parties.
Who “owns” the webinar recording / slideshow
Without getting into copyright laws now (because this is already a lengthy enough post!), you should decide who owns what. Do you both own the webinar recording? Can you each share it with your audience? Can you sell it? Can you give it away for free? If you sell it, do you need to share the revenue with the other person? Who owns the slide deck? Can you sell it or offer it as a bonus? Lots to think about here. Decide what you’re comfortable with, come to an agreement with your JV partner and lay it all out in your contract.
Consider including a paragraph or info about how you’ll handle any changes or amendments. Are oral changes ok (such as if you chat over Skype), do changes just need to be in writing (such as in emails or texts) or do you want any changes to be added to the actual contract document (so everything is in one place)? Figure out what’s best for you. Maybe “little” changes aren’t a big deal, like if the other person is adding another bonus. But you might want bigger changes, such as the price of the bundle, to be included in writing or added to the contract.
Lastly, you should include something about any changes or emergencies. What if one of you has an emergency and can’t co-host the webinar? Will you cancel it or will the other person still go ahead with it? Will you still offer the bundle? What about technical difficulties? Again, just think of any possible worst case scenarios and do your best to plan for them ahead of time by laying it out in your contract.
Also consider ANYTHING ELSE you can think of that is specific to your situation. For example, if you’re a designer and created a beautiful slidedeck and you own the copyright all the graphics in it, let the other person know. Or maybe you won’t do the webinar unless the other person gets at least X number of people to sign up. Or anything else you can think of. This is YOUR contract, so make sure to include everything that is important to YOU
Having a contract in place isn’t a 100% guarantee that nothing will go wrong. But it is there to remind you both of what you have agreed to and how you are going to work together. You can make your contract as formal or as informal as you want, but it’s always a good idea to have something in writing. Protect yourself now with a good contract so you get back to running your awesome business!