Whether you’re new to blogging or canvasing the web for tips to boost blog traffic, blogging success is not always about page views and SEO rankings. You should treat your blog like a business, and that means ensuring you’re blogging legally. What does it mean to blog legally? In this post, I’m going to break down the 5 most critical legal pages your blog needs to adequately protect your businesses. Let’s dive in.
1. Terms and Conditions
Blog terms and conditions are simply a set of rules and obligations that your visitors agree to abide by when they visit and access your blog or website. You can think of terms and conditions as your mom’s “house rules”. Maybe your mom always required you to take your shoes off at the door or she insisted that you put your dirty plates directly in the dishwasher. Well, just like mom, in your terms and conditions, you will outline what visitors are expected not to do and the corresponding consequences if they fail to follow your rules (i.e., banning them from your blog).
Terms and conditions have many different names. They can also be called terms of service or simply just terms. Regardless of the title, they all function the same.
Why can’t I just use another website’s terms and conditions?
Blog terms and conditions come in many shapes and sizes and this is exactly why you shouldn’t just “borrow” another blog’s terms and conditions and try and adapt them for your own use. The content of your terms and conditions should be customized to fit the form and function of your blog.
As an example, if you permit visitors to create accounts in order to access a paid membership page then your terms and conditions should address your visitor’s creation, maintenance and protection of those accounts. In this case, your terms and conditions should, among other things, outline that you expect users to keep their passwords safe and to prevent unauthorized access.
Moreover, copyright laws protect websites from the quick and dirty “copy and paste”. You wouldn’t risk plagiarizing a paper for school, and this situation is no different. Copying another website’s content verbatim can get you in legal trouble that could ultimately result in you paying damages and wasting time re-creating content.
Nocturnal Legal offers customized terms and conditions templates created to fit the form and function of every different type of blog.
Even if your blog is more a hobby than a business, the odds are you’re still collecting visitor information through their IP address, cookies and other analytics tools either baked into your website provider, implemented by you for tracking purposes or included in your website’s plug-ins. Long story short, if you’re online, you’re collecting people’s information.
It builds trust.
These standard expectations shape the way visitors perceive your blog and, potentially, your professionalism.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect in January of 2020, but wasn’t actively enforced until July 2020. Recently, an amendment was passed called the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which will replace the CCPA beginning January 2023.
In the meantime, websites must comply with the CCPA as it’s currently written knowing full well that in the near future privacy policies will need to change in order to meet the new standards.
Since it’s passage, the CCPA is the first comprehensive U.S.-created policy that seeks to protect the rights of consumers who share their personal information with businesses.
4. Legal Disclaimer
A legal disclaimer is the short blurb you see at the bottom of almost every website.
You can think of legal disclaimers like the plastic tag on your blow dryer that warns consumers it shouldn’t utilized near water or while you’re in the bathtub (duh, right?). While it may seem like common sense, those plastic tags wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for someone doing the exact thing it warns against.
Legally, those warning labels work to protect the company against liability. If someone blow dries their hair in the bathtub and then electrocutes themselves, they’ll have a harder time in court proving they didn’t know they shouldn’t have been doing if the warning label was adhered to the device.
No different in this situation, your legal disclaimer works to warn visitors that you’re not liable for the actions they take based on the content you publish.
A good example is when a blog is providing information about certain health conditions. It is imperative that blog places a legal disclaimer at the bottom of their website indicating that the content is not medical advice and further recommending readers seek professional medical help.
5. F.A.Q. Page
Finally, an F.A.Q. page, while not technically a legal page, is an important step you can take to limit your liability.
An F.A.Q. page is the place where you can include the most frequently asked questions, which will hopefully cut down on the number of repetitive e-mails you receive with duplicate questions. But more importantly, it’s a space where you can outline your policies for products you sell.
For example, do you offer returns? How are products delivered? What payment methods do you accept?
An F.A.Q. page is also a great place to outline product expectations. Whether you have a digital product that you offer for free and are working on selling affiliate products through links or you’re selling a physical product that must be shipped, this page is the perfect place to describe what customers can expect throughout the buying process.
For example, what type of materials are the products made of? Do you have a warranty? Are there instructions for use?