These days, blogging is a perfectly legitimate way of making money. There are people out there with highly popular blogs and followings big enough to provide them with a regular source of income. What a lot of people don’t realize is that running an online business as exciting as it is also means you cannot ignore the more serious side of things. This means taking into account the legal side of what it means to have a website, blog and business online. And make no mistake, your blog is a business! Along with the many creative and technical aspects of blogging there are important disclosures and policies that are required by law to have on your website. If you want to make money blogging, the smart thing is not to bury your head in the sand and pretend these issues don’t exist.
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What you don’t know can hurt you. These tips will help to make sure you’re aware of the business side of blogging so you can stay protected.
As such, this includes doing a variety of things to your blog that you’d do if you were running a business. In this guide, you’ll see some top blogging tips that help you understand the business and legal side of blogging to set your site up for success!
Create a unique name for your blog
All blogs need a unique name and URL that stands out and grabs people’s attention. This is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, like a business, you need a solid brand image. Your name is the foundation of this and says a lot about what people can expect from your articles.
However, from a more legal perspective, your name needs to be unique as using someone else’s can get you into hot water.
A lot of small bloggers end up in trouble because they’ve copied a name – either knowingly or by accident – and a bigger company has called them out on this and provided them with a cease and desist order.
In this scenario, the best thing to happen is that they make you change your name. You’d need to completely rebrand your blog, so it’s hardly ideal. The worst-case scenario is that you’re hit with fines or penalties!
With a unique name you stand out from the crowd, you establish your brand, and you avoid any legal issues. A quick online search will help you figure out if your chosen name is already taken and trademarked or not. If it isn’t, then think about trademarking it yourself to protect your blog!
Go here to check if your name is free to use or not.
Keep your work protected
If you’re looking at your blog as a business, then all of your articles are precious. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into them.
Making sure you add Terms and Conditions on your website sets the rules for visitors such as who owns the property and how they can or can’t use it.
These should be added to your website’s footer and linked to a page with details.
It’s easy for anyone to copy your posts and pass them off as their own but it doesn’t have to be. There are various plugins you can use to make it impossible for someone to Right Click and steal your copy.
You can also add a Copyscape Banner to your site to ward off anyone.
After all, who has time to check all the time if your work is being plagiarised? A tool like Grammarly can scan your work or anyone else’s to tell you if it is a work of someone else’s.
Technically, your work is already copyrighted the moment you put it on your site.
US Copyright law protects them, but you still need to check that people aren’t stealing your text, photos, graphics, music or videos.
Again, this can be done by searching for it, or you can employ someone to constantly browse the web checking that none of your pieces are copied.
You can also add a copyright notice, a “All rights reserved” or “no reproduction without permission” notice below all of your work to discourage online thieves.
If you wish to register with the copyright office here is the link: www.copyright.gov
If you happen to catch someone stealing your work, then you can do the following:
- Send a DMCA letter to the web host of the website. Per law, web hosts are supposed to take strict action against other sites that copies copyrighted work from other websites.
- Contact the website owner and simply ask them to remove it
- Send a Cease and Desist letter to the website owner
- Send a DMCA letter to Google! This is strong action and may get them banned from Google Adsense
- If nothing else works and they keep using your content you can file legal action
Remember, if you want your blog to be like a business, part of your responsibility is to protect your content just as a store owner protects their goods in any retail store.
Understand the legalities of your work
Writing a blog may sound extremely straightforward, but you’re still bound by various rules and regulations – much like any other business.
Primarily, the business side of blogging means there are two things that you need to be aware of:
- User privacy
You’re likely to be asking for email details to get people to join a mailing list, so you have to tell everyone what you’re doing with their data and get appropriate permission.
These Free legal templates have everything you need to make sure your blog complies with all aspects of the law.
Now, regarding disclosures and disclaimers, this relates to the information you provide your readers.
One of the main ways to make money from your blog is to enter brand deals and get sponsorships from other companies.
Often, this means you need to create content for these brands.
As such, you have to release disclosures on every piece of sponsored or advertised work that tells your audience they are as such.
This lets them know that you’ve been paid to create the post, so you let your audience know that upfront right away.
Hopefully these review posts you create are relative to your blog, used and recommended by you, and more than that will prove as valuable to your audience.
This is a legal requirement by the Federal Trade Commission, and your disclosure has to be clear for all to see.
For example, it needs to be at the top of the sponsored blog post, preferably in bold or in a larger font that draws attention and makes it obvious that the post is sponsored.
This goes for social media posts as well. Always put in a notice letting the public know that it is an #ad #sponsoredpost etc..
Likewise, if you’re ever writing about specific topics that are perhaps serious or can influence the reader in some way – like medical topics, financial advice, etc. – you should include a disclaimer that informs the reader you’re not a qualified expert.
Tell them this is just your opinion and your advice based on that opinion, you’re not a specialist in that arena, and that you don’t guarantee any results! If they need further information to contact their specialist.
Create written agreements
It’s common for bloggers to need outside help from people in other industries. For example, you need to work with a marketing agency to help promote your blog.
Or, as mentioned above you have brand deals with companies that are paying you to partner with them.
Either way, the business side of blogging means you need to create written agreements with everyone you work with.
This is vital to outline both party’s roles and responsibilities.
It stops you from getting ripped off, and it lets you know what you have to do if you ever agree to a deal with any brands for work.
Think about it logically, if you run a business, would you source vendors and suppliers without putting proper contracts in place?
Would you agree to partner with other companies without any written legal agreements?
Of course you wouldn’t, so don’t do it with your blog!
There are easy ways to get freelance contract templates to download for FREE HERE.
Overall, the business side of blogging is pretty straightforward and includes all the boring and legal issues that you’d rather not deal with!
This is the last thing that most bloggers and entrepreneurs wish to think about yet it is really critical to properly protect yourself in the case of an unwanted attack.
Think about it, a simple consultation with an attorney nowadays is between $250 and $500!
If you order the legal templates you can save yourself from numerous annoying but very real headaches, not to mention potentially thousands of dollars.
They are super simple to implement and take but minutes of your time.
Give yourself this peace of mind so you will never have to worry about anything down the road coming back to bite you later!