I love seeing that people do actually care about the legal side of their blog and website. It’s a pleasant surprise to be honest. But I also know lots of people aren’t really concerned with the legal issues. So let’s discuss the 3 reasons why you should care about legal for your blog and website, no matter what level you are at right now.
Maybe you haven’t started your site yet. Or your blog is still small. Or you figure you’ll just worry about it later since you aren’t really making money yet.
Nope, it’s time to think about the legal side right now. Yes, you. You – the brand new blogger, you – the brand new website owner, you – the blogger who just posts pictures of your dogs and you think only your husband reads your blog (this was me for awhile, so no judgment!) and you – the blogger who is kinda sorta maybe starting to monetize, but “it isn’t a business yet, so who cares about the legal boring stuff.”
(Disclaimer: I’m a US-based attorney so this info is directed towards US bloggers, but it may also apply to international bloggers. Check your country’s laws for more information about laws and regulations in your country.)
Today’s post is to remind you why the legal side is important, why you need to care and a painless way that you can get started. There are three simple (but really really important) reasons why every single blogger and website owner needs to care about the legal side:
- You don’t want to get sued
- You don’t want to have to sue other people
- You want your blog to be seen as profesh and legit
Seems pretty simple, right? Let’s dive into this more.
You don’t want to get sued
This seems prettttttty obvious. In our lives, no one wants to deal with the law or lawyers. Ever. The law means things like speeding tickets, getting a divorce, having to sue your landlord because they won’t fix your leaking roof, getting involved in a car accident. All kinds of no fun stuff. The law is one of those things you want to avoid dealing with at all costs, right?
The same should apply with your website. Just like with other areas of your life, you need to make sure that you have the proper protections and safeguards in place, so nothing can or will come back and bite you in the ass. (There really isn’t a more elegant way to put it.)
So knowing the legal issues surrounding blogging is important. Putting the right safeguards into place before you have a legal issue is the best thing you can do. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of … something. I can’t remember how the saying goes, but the point is true – prevention is better than trying to fix the problem after it’s a problem.
When it comes to blogging, the main things you need in place to safeguard against being sued (or having legal action taken against you) are:
- Proper legal statements on your website, including a privacy statement, terms and conditions statement, disclaimer statement and disclosure statement
- Not using images, content or work that you don’t have the rights to, such as reposting someone else’s images or a big excerpt from another blog post
- Having contracts if you’re working with others
- Complying with the appropriate laws related to email marketing, privacy laws, giveaways, etc and
- Tracking your money and income for tax purposes
I know this seems like a lot to think about, but for most of these issues, once you know the rules, they are easy to follow. Additionally, things like your legal statements, you can basically create once and forget about them until if/when you need to make any changes.
You don’t want to sue other people
Getting sued (or having legal action taken against you) is no fun. Now the other side of that coin also sucks – that would be when someone has wronged you and you need to take legal action against them.
That’s a drag, obviously.
So the best thing to do is to put as many legal safeguards and notices in place on the front end to let people know you aren’t okay with them taking your stuff without your permission. Even if you don’t end up actually needing to sue someone, getting involved in any sort of legal action is obviously no fun.
If you want to make sure your blog doesn’t need to ever go after others, the main thing you need in place is a set of legal statements letting others know your content is copyright and/or trademark protected. This won’t necessarily stop someone in their tracks if they’re dead set on stealing your work. But it can be a deterrent since they realize “hey this blogger is savvy enough to have these statements up. I’m gonna think twice before taking her content.”
Then if someone does steal your work, it can be helpful to refer back to your statements. You can send an email pointing to your copyright statement and remind the person that you don’t allow re-posting of your work, or you require a link back, etc. If they don’t comply with removing your work or giving you credit, your statement gives you a better leg to stand on if you then need to go after the person legally. (Which we hope it doesn’t get to that.)
You want to run your blog & website professionally
If you want your blog to be legit, you want it to have all the elements of a legit website/business, right? Think of the different sites you see online – the bigger sites and professional blogs have a lot going on. They have a contact page, copyright statements, terms and conditions, they remind you of your privacy when you sign up for their email list, etc. Yes, lots of us just glaze over these things. We often don’t read people’s privacy statements and when a website asks you to agree to their terms and conditions before continuing, we all usually just click “ok” without reading a thing.
But, whether you realize it or not, all these little things lend to the legitimacy of these sites without us even realizing them. Having a pop-up that you won’t be spammed when added to an email list helps us to feel at ease because we can see that the website knows what’s up.
You want your site visitors to feel the same way. You want them to see you as a legitimate business (even if you aren’t monetized yet) rather than just some random blogger who doesn’t know the business and legal consequences of running a website. We all want to be taken seriously so that we can earn our readers’ trust and grow our presence online, whether that’s through just creating a business, growing relationships with other bloggers, reaching out to brands, selling our own products and services, etc.
No matter what your blogging end game is, being legal will legitimize you and help you reach your goals.
No matter what your blogging end game is, being legal will legitimize you and help you reach your goals. http://ctt.ec/lshRj+ @jackiejade
Ok so I hope I’ve convinced you. Yep, worrying about the legal side isn’t the most glamorous but it’s one of the most (if not the most) important things you can do to improve your blog.
If you’re ready to get legal, a great way to start on that path is to sign up for my FREE email course, Legalize Your Blog. You get 6 legal lessons delivered right to your inbox so you can start thinking about the legal side without totally getting overwhelmed. My goal is to make legal way more accessible and less intimidating. Just enter your email address to sign up (or click the image to learn more about the course!)