Today’s article is a guest post by Amira from ASelfGuru.com She’s a lawyer, blogger, and kick-booty business coach…and she’s here sharing her expertise on the legal side of blogging.
Take it away, Amira!
This post may contain affiliate links. I will make a small commission if you make a purchase through one of these links, at no extra cost to you.
Hi guys! I’m Amira from ASelfGuru.com. Thank you, Cate for affording me the opportunity to write this guest post on a crucial topic that every blogger and online entrepreneur needs to understand in order to protect their business legally.
Before I get started, here’s my fun legal Disclaimer:
Disclaimer: Although I am a lawyer by profession, I am not YOUR lawyer. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any kind of attorney-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.
Now let’s begin – before I became a lawyer, I was a teacher, so I always like to start with the basics first.
Examples of this personal information include your name, email address, credit card information, phone number, etc. It’s anything you input on someone else’s website which can be used to identify you.
It also includes the automatic cookies and Google Analytics you use on your website to track certain data and information of your visitors.
- Children’s Privacy – you have to make it clear that you are NOT collecting information from anyone under the age of 13. Even if you do accidentally, then you need to specify how you will delete that information.
- Personal information– you need to elaborate on what personal information is collected, how it is collected and for what purpose. For example, if I sign up for your freebie through the email opt-in form on your website, I have the right to know how my personal information (name and email address in this case) will be used. Similarly, if I purchase a product from you and supply my name and credit card information to you, I’ve the right to know how my personal information will be used and under what circumstances will you disclose that information to third parties.
- Email Marketing – you must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 by informing your visitors their right to opt out or “unsubscribe” from your email list and how they can do that.
WHAT IS A DISCLAIMER
Every blog needs a disclaimer because you don’t want to be legally held responsible for anything you publish on your blog.
Simply put, a disclaimer protects you from lawsuits. By having a disclaimer, you “disclaim” or “deny” liability for the content you publish on your blog. For example, my legal disclaimer above which makes it clear that none of this information can be construed as legal advice or that I’m not liable for how you use this information.
You have to tailor your disclaimer to your specific niche and business. Let’s say you are a health coach – you don’t want anything on your website to be construed as medical or health advice. If someone relies on this information as advice and follows it but doesn’t get the same results as you did, then that person can sue you for their damages.
Similarly, let’s say you provide financial information on your website and someone relies on this as financial advice and follows your strategies expecting the same financial gains. But instead they lose their investment after relying and following the information presented on your blog. Now they are obviously upset and angry and want to sue you for damages.
In such scenarios, if you have a proper disclaimer on your blog then that can help protect you from these lawsuits and save a lot of stress down the road.
Not only this, a Disclaimer also protects you from other issues such as the accuracy and completeness of the content you publish. Not everything you publish will be up to date or accurate at all times. Information changes rapidly and you don’t want to be responsible for any inaccuracies found in the content of your blog.
DISCLAIMER V. DISCLOSURE
Some people confuse a “disclaimer” with a “disclosure”. That’s because typically, all your affiliate disclosures are included as part of your Disclaimer.
But a disclosure is where you reveal all the necessary information to your visitors regarding a product or service, so they can make a well-informed decision. This includes your affiliate relationships under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) where you are required to disclose to your visitors any financial rewards or commissions that you will receive if someone clicks on your affiliate link to make a purchase.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED IN YOUR DISCLAIMER
Just to give you an idea, here are some of the basic things you should include in your disclaimer:
- No advice – it should be clear that you are not offering any kind of professional advice on your blog. This needs to be tailored to your niche. But it should be clear that you encourage your visitors to consult a professional in the specific area.
- Limitation of Liability – you should have appropriate provisions in place to protect you from all kinds of legal liabilities arising from your content and also from any third party links that you publish on your website.
- Additional Disclaimers – these could be earnings disclaimers, product review disclaimers, sponsored posts disclaimer, etc. Basically any additional disclaimers that are needed based on the type of content you publish on your blog.
- Affiliate Disclosures – as mentioned above, a Disclaimer usually includes all your affiliate disclosures as needed under the FTC. You are required to comply with the FTC regulations and you can read more about them here.
In the United States, the FTC takes consumer rights very seriously. They regularly conduct investigations and bring lawsuits against companies for not following the rules. See some examples here.
That’s why you should always ensure you have a proper disclaimer on your blog to comply with the rules.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
These are your website rules. Most bloggers think they are optional and don’t include these on their blog. This is a mistake because your terms and conditions serve multiple purposes.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED IN YOUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Here are some of the things you should think about including in your Terms and Conditions:
- Intellectual Property rights – you want to be able to safeguard your content by protecting it from being copied, stolen or misused.
- Lawful use of your website– this is where you explain what is considered lawful content and use of your website (such as no spamming, profane or abusive content being uploaded to your site).
- Reservation of your rights – such as your right to terminate anyone’s use of your website and your right to amend your legal pages, etc.
- Refund or exchange policies– if you sell any products or services, you want to make sure your buyers accept your terms and conditions and know what your refund or exchange policies are.
- Governing Law provisions– where and how you will resolve legal disputes.
I can’t emphasize enough how much having comprehensive Terms and Conditions on your blog can protect you from legal liability and help resolve many disputes in the future.
HOW TO WRITE THE LEGAL PAGES FOR YOUR BLOG
Now you know WHAT legal pages you need on your blog to comply with the laws and you also know WHY you need them. It is imperative that you complete all your legal pages BEFORE you launch your blog to avoid facing long expensive lawsuits later.
I’m a lawyer, so I know how lawsuits can cause a lot of anxiety, stress and a massive drain on your finances. So, why not protect yourself and your business from the beginning?
You CANNOT copy anyone else’s legal pages because that’s a violation of law called copyright infringement.
I’ll be honest, the best protection is to hire a lawyer to help you write your legal pages, but I also understand that most of us can’t afford one.
As a great alternative, I sell all the legal templates that you need to protect your blog at a very affordable price and tons of new and experienced bloggers have already purchased my Legal Bundle for their website, as you can see from the testimonials here.
So, check out my Legal Bundle here instead of resorting to some free online templates that do not offer you the complete legal protections you absolutely need for your business.
I conducted legal audits for some bloggers recently who had used the free templates floating around online, and I showed them how deficient their legal pages were. As a result, they ended up buying my Legal Bundle.
With my Legal Bundle, you will get the peace of mind knowing each template is written by a lawyer and a blogger (like you). I’m a blogger myself so I know what kind of language needs to be included in these legal pages, and I’ve made your job easy.
The templates are drafted in such a way where you will be able to customize and get done with all your legal pages within minutes!
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN MY LEGAL BUNDLE FOR YOUR WEBSITE?
The Legal Bundle includes all three templates below, along with awesome bonuses that come with each template, plus access to my private Facebook Support group where you can easily reach me any time with questions.
You can buy these three templates individually as well, but you will save a lot more money and time if you buy the Legal Bundle since you need all three templates for your blog:
Lastly, with the Legal Bundle, you will get done with ALL your legal pages at once and can go back to growing your blogging business, which is much more exciting!
Remember I’m not just a lawyer, I’m your blogger friend too, so feel free to reach out any time. If you found this post helpful, please share with others so they can also learn the importance of protecting their blog legally.
I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below to let me know where you are with your blogging journey? Have you completed all your legal pages or do you need help?
|Amira is a lawyer, blogger and business coach from Florida. She blogs at ASelfGuru.com where she teaches business and legal skills to online entrepreneurs and helps you become your own boss!