You’ve set up your blog, written a few posts, created your social media accounts, and probably set yourself up as a legal business, but is that enough? Unfortunately, no. There is much more you need to know and some important steps you need to take with your posts to keep yourself on the right side of the law.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON COVERING YOURSELF LEGALLY AS A BLOGGER
It’s important that you only use images that you have permission to use or you have to link them back to the owner. Don’t take credit for any images that aren’t yours.
Here are some ways to use images legally:
• Take them yourself. Then, of course, you own them. If you need to crop them, sharpen them, or clean them up at all, you can use a program like Photoshop or PicMonkey to make them better.
• Link them back to the owner. Give credit where credit is due and include a link below the picture stating where the photo came from and linking it back to the original post. Be cautious though, this is not always acceptable to the owner. To make sure you’re fully protected, email the owner and ask for permission to share their page and/or image on your blog with a link back to them.
• Purchase royalty-free images. If you buy an image, you will own it so you don’t have to worry about the copyright. There are a variety of sites that sell stock images for just a few dollars. You can also sign up for a membership service, like Storyblocks, where you pay one flat, yearly rate and download all the stock images you like.
To protect your own images, add text to the bottom of each photo with your URL information so if someone else shares your image, their readers will know where it came from.
You absolutely must disclose if you’re being paid to use, promote, or review any product or service. This includes using affiliate links within your posts. Here are a few tips
• On each post that contains affiliate links, write a note at the bottom of the post stating that affiliate links where included.
• If you frequently use affiliate links or feature a significant amount of sponsored content, you may want to add a page to your blog that spells out your relationships with these companies so there is no question.
• Whenever you post content, make sure it’s perfectly clear whether or not it’s editorial content or advertising.
• Don’t claim to be objective if you’re not. If you work for a company that you’re featuring, you need to disclose that information. If you’ve been paid for a good review, disclose that as well.
• If your opinions are truly your own, state that you were compensated for the content but the opinions are strictly your own. Even though your content is objective, you still need to disclose that you were paid.
There is ALOT that goes into writing sponsored content. If you’re looking for a great course that can teach you everything you need to know about writing sponsored posts and making sure you’re following all the rules that go into a paid post, check out Jenny Melrose’s course Pitch Perfect Pro. I took this course a few years back and was able to land some sponsored gigs that paid really, really well!
USER DEVELOPED CONTENT
It may surprise you to know that you don’t own reviews and comments posted on your blog, the author does. The same laws that protect your content protect the people who write something on your blog.
Some things you might want to include are:
• You can use the comments as you wish. You have the right to delete them if they are not relevant, include inappropriate content, or include links.
• You will not change or edit comments, but if they are not appropriate, the entire comment will be deleted.
• You will remove them if someone makes a request to have them removed. (This is up to you.)
• You require some information in order to block anonymous comments.
• If you ever close your blog, all comments and reviews will be deleted.
• If you want to use testimonials on your site, be sure you obtain permission from the person who originally wrote the testimonial. And if you’d like to edit the testimonial at all, ask for permission to edit or ask them to make the changes and send it back to you.
Creating a “terms and conditions” section on your blog will help you state these rules for your followers and people who leave comments. State your policies and let your readers know what kind of content will be removed.
PROTECT PRIVACY DATA
Followers won’t want to give up their personal information for your email newsletter if they think you’re going to sell that information to a databank where they’ll be spammed.
You need to comprise a statement that lets people know that you will protect their information. Something along the lines of “We promise we won’t rent, sell, or share your information.”
With that being said, I personally didn’t jump through all the hoops to be GDRP compliant. I added some language here and there and updated my consent info when collecting subscribers, but beyond that I didn’t give it much thought in part because I don’t like in the UK, I live here in the USA and follow the guidelines as put forth by the FCC.
You all need to decide at what level you want to comply and if the costs outweigh the benefits.
Protect yourself against someone taking your content and using it as their own. Sometimes someone will do it intentionally, but most often, it’s an oversite on their part. They may use your content and give you credit along with a link back to your site, thinking they’re being helpful by sharing your content. But if they didn’t ask for permission, they’re breaking the law.
Your first course of action can be simply sending them an email and letting them know that what they did is copyright infringement and they need to take it down. If they’re understanding and were only trying to share information in what they thought was an acceptable manner, they will be happy to remove it and probably even apologize to you.
Posting a copyright symbol at the footer of your website will usually discourage people from copying anything from your site and posting it elsewhere.
Unfortunately, taking legal action against someone who stole your content and is posting it as their own can not only be difficult and time-consuming, it can be expensive.
You’ll need to weigh the cost and frustration of this path.
Your protected work includes:
• Your original copy
• Your links
• Your images
• Podcasts you create
• Videos you create
• Unique coding to your site
Something you may want to consider though if someone copies your work, gives you credit, and links back to your original post, it’s probably building your following and links back to your site. You may want to contact the site owner though and let them know that you’ll allow it this one time without permission but the next time they want to share your content, they need to ask.
That’s a lot of information about covering the legal aspects of your blog!
Is that all there is to know? No! There is a lot more that may be outside your area of expertise or maybe things you just don’t want to deal with.
• Sponsored post contracts
• Licensing agreements for your content
• Liability waivers and releases if you run a fitness or nutrition program
• Contractor contracts if you work with a variety of independent contractors
• Release for biographical information
• Likeness release (permission to use someone’s personal image)
• Nondisclosure agreement
• Speaker agreement
• Subcontractor contract
• Website disclaimer
Is your head spinning yet?
Did you have any idea you would need these things when you started your blog or did you just think you’d make a website and share a few posts? It can be overwhelming to say the least.
Not to worry though, Businessese will help you make sure you’re covered.
WHAT IS BUSINESSESE?
It’s a company started by two lawyers and businesswomen to help you get the documents, contracts, agreements, and waivers you need to cover yourself legally. They can also help you with your disclaimers and legal information for your blog. And all for a much more affordable rate than hiring an attorney to draw up paperwork that’s outside of their specialty. Most of their services run $49-$249.
It’s important to note that, while they are lawyers, they do not help with legal matters like filing a lawsuit, offering legal advice, or making recommendations about legal actions.
They strictly help you with customized legal forms and content for your blog.
If you need contracts, disclaimers, and waivers, isn’t it much easier to purchase the form from someone who knows how to write this information than trying to figure it out on your own?
Imagine all the time you’ll waste trying to make sure your disclaimers and contracts hold all the information you need. You have much better things to do with your time and Businessese can get it done quickly and make sure you’re covered legally. The peace of mind, knowing that it’s done right the first time, is worth the minimal cost.
In addition to helping you create the legal information you need for your blog, Businessese also has a wonderfully informative blog where you can find answers to your questions and answers you didn’t know you needed.
Reduce your stress and cover yourself legally with the help of Businessese.
As a blogger, there are many things legally that we have to worry about. Everything from protecting out content from people who want to steal it, to worrying about people’s personal information and privacy. Using a company like Businessese seems like a smart choice for those of us who are looking for done for you services and peace of mind.