Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Rachel Rodgers.
Well, today is a treat because we’re going to talk about leveraging your intellectual property (loose translation: more bank in your tank).
You’ve probably heard of all sorts of ways to extend your content to make it work harder for you. Books, courses, and events are natural ways to do this, but licensing is another way to get your content to work harder for you. (Think: more money, more time, and more influence; and, no, this is not a Ponzi scheme.)
But the ins-and-outs of licensing are an enigma — one of those things we have all heard of but don’t truly “get.” So let’s dive in and demystify the hell out of licensing.
In the abstract, licensing is a way for businesses to increase revenue and expand the reach of their creative work, without increasing workload and infrastructure. In practical terms, “licensing” describes a situation in which a business wants to rent (i.e., license) its intellectual property to another company for a limited use and, often, a limited time frame. The licensing business (the Licensor) retains ownership over its intellectual property, while the business who received the license (the Licensee) uses that intellectual property (for an agreed-upon purpose) to generate revenue and tosses a pretty solid amount of that money back to the Licensor.
Since legalese is hard for everyone to remember, just remember that licensing is a way for you to rent your ideas to someone else. (Click here to tweet this — thank you!)
For example, licensing is used quite often with sports and movie/TV show paraphernalia. Remember all of those Frozen sleeping bags, towels, pajamas, bedsheets, sippy cups, etc. that your son/daughter/niece/nephew amassed last year over the holidays? Yep, those glittery goodies are quite certainly the product of a licensing deal. (You have “Let it Go” playing in your head now, don’t you? Don’t worry. It’ll pass.)
The same goes for all those mouse pads, keychains, laptop cases, and coffee mugs you see stamped with the logo of your favorite (or someone else’s favorite) sports team. In those situations, Walt Disney and the NFL (or the specific teams) rent the right to use their logos and images to makers of shirts, hats, sleeping bags, etc. Those licensee companies then make mass quantities of the licensed goods, sell them, and pay royalties to Walt Disney and the NFL.
All the while, Elsa and Tom Brady just sit back, combing their golden locks, working on their fitness, and watching the dollars roll in.
You might be thinking, “That’s really super for Elsa and Tom, but where’s the me in all this?” I was just about to get to that: the great news is that licensing isn’t just for cartoon sleeping bags and football coffee mugs. Licensing is a totally viable and totally lucrative option for coaches as well. Coaching is a service that is high in demand and depends heavily on content, but not every newbie coach (or even experienced coach) is willing or able to put in the time to create original content to use with their clients, at their events, etc. That’s where you come in.
If you’ve built a strong brand, with solid content, that’s really valuable stuff in the licensing market. Other coaches will be willing to pay you fees to rent your content for use in their own practice. The best part is that you can license content you already have. Think about all of that intellectual property that you have just sitting around collecting dust — infographics, worksheets, course curricula that you no longer use, etc. Why not spruce up those puppies, package them, and let others benefit from your brilliance?
If the whole licensing thing feels like shady territory, trust me, it really isn’t. Licensing arrangements are governed by contracts, so you have the freedom to choose what you license, for how long, and for what purpose, and you always maintain ownership over your intellectual property (because you’ve registered your copyrights and trademarks, right? RIGHT?). You can also have control over the marketing and other visual aspects of the licensed products, if you choose. And of course, you decide to whom you license your material. So, if you take the time to vet a potential licensee, and you aren’t convinced that he or she will be true to your brand image or uphold your level of quality, you can decline the licensing arrangement.
As with all things legal, there is much more to setting up a licensing program or deal than what we’ve covered here. But if you want to get started down the path to licensing, doing an intellectual property audit is a great place to start. What’s that you say? You don’t know how to do an IP audit? Never fear! There’s a worksheet for that. Download my Intellectual Property Audit Worksheet to get started right here.