Have you been keeping up with the Audit Your Blog series? In week one, we talked about the legal questions you need to be asking in order to make sure your website is legal. Then in week two, we talked about how to research the legalese (aka legal language and protections) your website needs. Now in the last post of this series, we’re talking all about how to write legal statements to protect your blog and website! Let’s jump into it.
In order to write your legal statements for your site (such as disclaimers, disclosures, privacy statements, copyright statement and terms and conditions statements), I hope you finished answering the legal questions you need to ask about your biz and did your research too. Here are the basics you need to know when it comes to diy-ing your own legal statements (and remember if you don’t want to write your own statements, of course check out the Legal Marketplace for customizable templates!)
(Oh and as a reminder – I am a US based attorney, so this post is mainly geared towards US bloggers, but can apply to international bloggers as well. Additionally this post should not be seen as legal advice.)
1. Know Your Audience
You should already know who your audience is, since it’s your blog readers. But this is important to think about in the legal sense as well because it means who you’ll be writing for.
Are your readers: creatives such as Etsy shop owners, writers such as other bloggers, coaches, virtual assistants, hobbyists, educators, students? The list goes on and on. Know who you’re writing for so you can get an idea of how technical or plain language you want your statements to be.
2. Be Clear and Concise
Regardless of your audience, being extremely clear and concise is always a good thing. Whether your audience consists of bloggers or rocket scientists, you need to use really clear language. For example when writing your copyright statement, if you are totally okay with others using your original photos in any way at all and just require a link back to your site, say that!
Your copyright statement can be something like “All photos on this blog are taken by me (unless otherwise noted). I’m happy to have you use my photos on your site or social media but just require that you provide a link back to my site so others can find my work too! Thanks!” Alternatively if you aren’t okay with people using your work, just say that too. Make it really clear so there can be no question about it.
This goes for your other statements too. Be clear and to-the-point.
Didn’t get your Audit Your Blog & Biz Legally Checklist from the other posts in this series? No worries – enter your info to get it now!
3. Don’t Use Complex Terms
If you aren’t a lawyer, don’t feel like you need to force yourself to use complex terms or legal “terms of art.” Using legal words doesn’t mean you’ll be more protected if what you’re trying to get across isn’t clear. (Even if you are a lawyer, you know you don’t need to use legal terms in order for your language to be valid and enforceable.)
Writing your statements in super complicated ways isn’t helpful for anyone, so use normal plain old English that your readers will understand. It makes it easier on you and them!
4. Think Outside the Box
When it comes to your legal statements for your blog and creating legal contracts, you’re mainly trying to cover all your bases by asking yourself the dreaded “what if…” questions. It’s like looking into your crystal ball to foresee problems that could come in the future, so you’re including language on how to deal with issues if or when they should arise.
This means you need to think outside the box – you don’t need to be a negative Nancy but just make sure you’re really considering the issues that might arise when it comes to your blog and business.
This is a no-brainer, but doesn’t hurt to mention it. We all make mistakes, but if you really want solid legal statements, be sure to read them over and maybe even get a friend to look them over too. You’re not just looking for spelling and grammar mistakes, but also substantive mistakes that could totally change the meaning of your statement.
Imagine if your contract says something like “CLIENT will own all rights to the work product and CONTRACTOR will have a license to reproduce” instead of the other way around! Little errors like this could have potentially big consequences, so be sure to uncover them sooner rather than later.
6. Enlist Help
DIY can be a great thing and it’s always my aim to make you feel more comfortable and confident regarding the legal side of things. But sometimes it pays to enlist some help. You can always consult with a licensed and experienced attorney if you think you need help or are worried if you are doing things right.
However if you don’t feel like you need your own attorney at this time, but would love some more info to make sure you’re keeping it legal, be sure to check out my Legal Marketplace. I have a bunch of ready-to-customize legal statements and contracts, my legal ebook and legal quick guides all meant to help you keep your business and blog legal.
Disclaimer: I am an attorney, but I am not your attorney. The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. The author is not liable for any losses or damages related to actions of failure to act related to the content in this article. If you need specific legal advice, consult with an attorney who specializes in your subject matter and jurisdiction.