How to Hire Freelance Writers
000aWhat's Right for Writers. Before you hire a freelance writer, attorney Cliff Ennico has advice on job titles, taxes, legal contracts, and copyright issues.000a
Hi I’m Cliff Ennico, Legal Editor of SBTV.com and author of the best-selling book’s Small Business Survival Guide. So you’ve got a terrific website with some terrific content and you want to aid to that content by hiring freelance writers to contribute articles, and wonder a nice you are that you are you’re actually going to pay them for this. This is a wonderful thing. What are some of the things that you need to have in contracts with freelancers? Well, Let’s begin at the beginning. First of all, when you’re dealing with freelancers you’re thinking about hiring them as independent contractors. You have to make sure that you’re hiring them as independent contractors and not as employees. A big mistake that some websites make when they hire freelance writers they give them titles. They call them staff writers and such, and they actually used those titles on the website. Be careful if you’re not careful about doing this, and especially if you’re controlling them. If you’re requiring them to spend at least one day a week writing stuff for you, you maybe creating an employment relationship not a 10, 99 relationship at all. And you’re going to have to start with holding payroll taxes from the amounts that you pay these people. Talk to a good employment attorney and find out before you even hire freelancers whether or not there’s any risks that those people will be treated as employees for tax purposes because it’s a bad thing if that happens. Avoid using titles especially don’t give these people titles just simply say contributor if you have to give them a title at all. Don’t call them staff writer or bureau chief of something like that. Secondly, make sure that you do good a contract in writing with them, and make sure that, that contract clearly states that they are independent contractors. They are not employees. They are not entitled to benefits. You will not withhold taxes from their paychecks. They are responsible for paying taxes on the amounts that you pay them. Make sure that that is clearly stated in the contracts. There’s very standard legal language that lawyers put in these contracts. Make sure that that language appears in every contract that you have with the freelancers so that they know that they can’t just go out and spend all this money at the tract. They’ve got to withhold money for payroll taxes and they’re the ones that have to pay them not you. That’s a very important thing to get in your contracts. Next, make sure you get an assignment of rights close. Make sure you’re going to close that says, that when they submit an article to you, you own all the rights, copyrights and otherwise throughout the world to that article. Believe it or not if you don’t do that they have they right to sell that article to your arch competitor and get a second fee for that article even though you pay them for it because the weight of law works in this area. A writer always owns the copyright to their creation, even though they get paid for it by somebody else unless and until they assign it to somebody else, so be sure to get a drafted assignment of rights close have an attorney draft it for you that says specifically that once the manuscript they submitted you own all right title and interest to that article world without end, Amen. That will prevent your freelancer from trying to get a double dip by selling your article to other people. Last but not least, be sure to get a close in there so that’s what we call representations and warranties. With the author stating that everything in this article is original work he is not reaping off someone else’s copyright material that nothing in the article will be libelous or slanderous that if they do quote a third party in the article, that they will be responsible for getting a released of copyright from that third person. So you don’t have to go chasing after every person that interviewed in the article and get them yourself. That should be the writer’s responsibility to get those things from the third parties. Make sure that you put that printed on them. It’s very specific language that you’re going to put in authorship contracts. Make sure that a good attorney helps you draft them and make sure that you create a standard form. You may have to spend an hour or two on an attorney’s time to set up one of these things, but the good news is if you’re going to be hiring lots of freelancers you can use this contract over and over and over again and that will save you money in the long run. I’m Cliff Ennico for SBTV.com.