3 Legal Mistakes Most Bloggers Make – Tips from a Lawyer

GUEST INTERVIEW WITH AMIRA: THE THREE LEGAL MISTAKES MOST BLOGGERS MAKE

Hi everyone! Welcome back! Today we are talking about the legal sides of blogging, which goes far above my head! I decided to turn to a lawyer for help, and she is also a blogger just like us! (as well as a business coach!) If you haven’t checked out her blog before, please do! (ASelfGuru) Before talking with Amira I was actually one of those bloggers who fell in the “legal mistakes” category! I thought using a free privacy policy was okay BUT, Amira opened my eyes and made me realize my blog wasn’t fully protected! I want to make sure other bloggers don’t make the same mistakes I made. It’s so important to protect your blog and biz! Are you making these 3 legal mistakes? Thank you again Amira for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share this wealth of knowledge with all of us!


Disclaimer: I do use affiliate links on here meaning that if you purchase anything through my affiliate links I receive commission at no additional cost to you! My views and opinions are never swayed because of this! I only recommend products and services I love!


3 legal mistakes most bloggers make! Tips from a lawyer on privacy policies


Thank you, Ell for the warm introduction and for providing me the opportunity to discuss the legal side of blogging, which is extremely important.

Before we get started, here’s my legal Disclaimer:


Disclaimer: Although I am a lawyer by profession, I am not YOUR lawyer. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any kind of attorney-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.


Thanks, Amira.

WHAT IS ONE OF THE FIRST LEGAL MISTAKES YOU SEE MOST BLOGGERS MAKE?

The first legal mistake I see most bloggers make is that they don’t have a Privacy Policy on their website. I see this with the new bloggers more than the seasoned ones because obviously, if you have been blogging for some time then you already know that a Privacy Policy is legally required on your website.

But it still amazes me when I see people blogging for 3-4 months and still not have a Privacy Policy on their website! I understand that if you are not a lawyer, you probably don’t know what a Privacy Policy is and why you need it but, just like everything else you work on, you have to educate yourself and make sure you are complying with the law.

Otherwise what you don’t know can hurt you and get you in lots of legal trouble!

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE PRIVACY POLICY FOR YOUR BLOG?

Very important! It wouldn’t be legally required to have a Privacy Policy on your website if it was not so important. The laws are put in place for a reason. Think about it, if I input any kind of personal information on your website such as my name, email address, credit card information, etc then I have the right to know how you will use that information and whether you will disclose it to anyone or not.

A solid comprehensive Privacy Policy covers a lot of important things like WHAT personal information you collect from your visitors and HOW you will use that information, your email marketing, third party links on your website, changes to your Privacy Policy, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policies, etc.

If you fail to have a proper Privacy Policy in place then you could face serious lawsuits. Look at Facebook for instance here and Google here for being sued for not having proper Privacy Policies in place.

Lawsuits come in all sizes, big or small, so as a business owner, it’s not worth taking the legal risks when you can easily take the steps to comply with the laws.

HOW CAN BLOGGERS GET A PRIVACY POLICY FOR THEIR WEBSITE?

The first and best option is to hire a lawyer to draft your Privacy Policy. This is the only way to ensure you have a Privacy Policy custom written for your website covering all your legal bases.

Based on the nature of your business, an experienced corporate/business lawyer in the United States can charge anywhere up to $1000 to draft a custom Privacy Policy for you. Just an hour consultation with an experienced lawyer can range from $250-$500 easily.

So obviously, this is not the most cost effective option! I recognize that as a lawyer and a business owner myself.

The second more reasonable option is to pay for a legal template that is drafted by a lawyer. Do your research and go with a Privacy Policy that you can trust.

I have helped tons of bloggers and online entrepreneurs already with my Privacy Policy template as you can see from the awesome testimonials.

Because I’m both a lawyer and a blogger, I’ve taken the time (I’m talking DAYS) to write a comprehensive Privacy Policy so you don’t have to! I’ve also put my eight years of legal expertise and research into this to make it super easy for you!

DO YOU RECOMMEND A FREE PRIVACY POLICY TEMPLATE FOR YOUR BLOG?

Most bloggers make the mistake of downloading any FREE Privacy Policy from online thinking it will protect them in the long run. This is far from the truth!

I see this problem in EVERY Facebook group when someone is confused or seeking help with his or her Privacy Policy or legal policies in general. Everyone quickly jumps in to suggest a FREE legal template but has anyone reviewed that free template to ensure it’s thorough or whether it’s even drafted by a lawyer?

I teach by examples so let’s look at some free legal templates

This website offers a FREE Privacy Policy. I conducted a legal audit of their Privacy Policy and guess what? If I wanted the complete protection that included the mandatory GDPR provisions and California Online Privacy Act (CalOPPA), the policy was no longer free!! It asked me to pay additional for those provisions.

This goes back to my point that just because it’s FREE, it does not mean it’s good to use. You get what you pay for and in this case, you get a deficient Privacy Policy that does not protect you completely. If you want the complete package, you will have to pay for it. Even then I don’t know the legitimacy of this website and whether I can trust that these templates are actually drafted by a real lawyer!

Let’s look at another example

This website also offers a FREE Privacy Policy. It is so generic and basic that after reading the entire policy, I found so many provisions that were missing. Even their legal basis for processing provisions are so generic that they fail to inform your website visitors under what circumstances their personal information will be disclosed. Additionally you have to “pay” for their pro version of the Privacy Policy if you want the complete Cookie and Privacy policies.

Again, FREE is not really free! In both cases, you have to pay for a thorough detailed Privacy Policy if you want the complete protection for your online business.

Still not convinced, want more FREE legal templates? Here’s a third example

This website is another one that offers a FREE Privacy Policy. It is the most basic and bare bones Privacy Policy I’ve ever seen! You might as well not even have one! There are no mandatory GDPR provisions in there, no email marketing policy, no comment policy, nothing about HOW your personal information will be used, etc.

It took me less than 5 minutes to complete my review of this Privacy Policy because it’s literally one page, has so many holes and offers no legal protections whatsoever.

Look the point is simple – I can keep auditing more free templates and find all kinds of loopholes in them exposing you to legal liability.

This is fun for me! I know it sounds crazy but I actually enjoy legal auditing and have years of experience in it.

But the bottom line is that these free templates are never going to offer you the complete legal protections and peace of mind you deserve.


WHAT IS ONE OF THE SECOND LEGAL MISTAKES YOU SEE MOST BLOGGERS MAKE?

The second legal mistake I see most bloggers make is not having an appropriate Disclosure and Disclaimer on their website. Most bloggers know they need a Disclosure under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if they are posting any affiliate links on their website.

But what they don’t know is that they also need a Disclaimer if they want to protect themselves from lawsuits.

I recently conducted a legal audit for a blogger friend who has been blogging for two years now, so she had a Disclosure on her website but no Earnings Disclaimer even though she was publishing income reports for a year now. This is the kind of oversight that could get you sued!

Without the Earnings Disclaimer, you are essentially guaranteeing the same results to your visitors if they followed everything you did. Think about how detrimental that could be for your business? Let’s say I relied on everything you posted and still did not achieve the same results so what’s my recourse?  Well, now I can sue you for money damages!

My blogger friend did not even know what an “Earnings Disclaimer” was and all this time, she thought just a general Disclaimer was sufficient on her website. I don’t blame her because as a blogger, you are not an expert in the legal realm so how would you know any of this unless you took the time to really research and learn all this.

Even then, there are all kinds of Disclaimers you need on your blog based on your niche, what you are publishing, selling, etc. You wouldn’t necessarily know what to look for or what particular language must be included to protect yourself.

Just like we go to the doctor for a health ailment, you need a lawyer to guide you through this process so you are not wasting valuable hours and days trying to be a “lawyer” yourself.

HOW CAN BLOGGERS GET A DISCLAIMER TEMPLATE FOR THEIR WEBSITE?

You already know my answer above where we talked about the Privacy Policy templates, and I showed you how the free legal templates are so deficient and unreliable!

But just for fun, I’ll do another legal audit of the FREE Disclaimer template offered on this website.

It is a one-page template with ONLY an affiliate disclaimer! Nothing else. You need much more than that. There’s no limitation of liability provision in there either.

I just showed you above how my experienced blogger friend did not even know about the additional Disclaimers she needed on her website.

Imagine the predicament new bloggers face? How would you know what is missing in these free templates?

I know all this legal stuff is daunting. That’s why I sell a Disclaimer template for your blog which covers all the required affiliate and third party disclosures you need to comply with the FTC along with all kinds of bonuses filled with additional Disclaimers that you need.

For example, I provide free Sponsored post, Earnings and Testimonials/Product reviews Disclaimers as part of my Disclaimer template because I know sooner or later (as you grow your business), you may need them on your blog. This way, you have it now instead of scratching your head later and having to paying for it.

WHAT IS ONE OF THE THIRD LEGAL MISTAKES YOU SEE MOST BLOGGERS MAKE?

The third legal mistake I see most bloggers make is not having any Terms and Conditions on their website. You can call them “Terms of Use” or “Terms of Service” too, and they are very important for your website.

I’ll give a simple example – I live in Florida but if there’s a legal dispute with someone in California, where do you think I would want to resolve it? Florida of course! Who wants to travel all the way to California to attend court hearings or trial? (Now I’d love to go to California for fun but definitely not for court!)

You get the point. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be spelled out in your Terms and Conditions along with many other important provisions such as your intellectual property rights, right to terminate, indemnification clauses, third party links, etc.

If you are selling any products or services on your website then you should make sure your buyers are accepting your terms and conditions prior to their purchase. This will not only help prevent legal disputes but will also help resolve lawsuits expeditiously if one arises down the road.

HOW CAN BLOGGERS GET A TERMS AND CONDITIONS TEMPLATE FOR THEIR WEBSITE?

I think it’s safe to say we are done with the free templates! So unless you have a lawyer helping you personally, you can get a very detailed and thorough Terms and Conditions template that I sell which would save you tons of time and work! You also don’t have to worry about WHAT to include in your Terms and Conditions because I’ve done all the work for you!

All my legal templates come with additional bonuses as well. Even if you don’t need a particular bonus right now such as an Earnings Disclaimer, you can save that language for future use. This saves you lots of time and money.

CAN BLOGGERS BUY ALL THREE LEGAL TEMPLATES ABOVE AT A DISCOUNT?

Yes, thank you for asking! Since you need all three legal templates – Privacy Policy, Disclaimer and Terms and Conditions – for your blog, my best selling Legal Bundle For Your Website includes all three at a huge discount!

As you can see from the testimonials, most bloggers buy the Legal Bundle because this way, they can quickly get done with all the legal policies they need for their blog!

The feedback I often receive is “you are a life saver,” “totally worth the money,” or my favorite is “money well spent, time well saved!”

Maybe it’s the lawyer in me but you will always hear me say, “Time is money.” If I have been able to accomplish anything in my life, it’s because I have valued time from an early age. I do not like to waste time at all!

If I don’t know anything, I like to defer to the experts! I don’t have the time to sift through the free stuff and figure out things myself when I can make my life easy and achieve my goals faster by learning from an expert in the area.

I’ll give you a recent example – I did not know ANYTHING about blogging so before starting my blogging journey, I didn’t hesitate buying a Pro Blogger bundle that cost me almost $700.

Most people would agree that’s a huge investment. But guess what? I have already recovered that money! The course paid for itself when I started making money within my first month of blogging! So in my opinion, it was the best investment.

I’m sharing this because I want to genuinely educate and help bloggers with the legal side of their business. I don’t want to see you compromise with the most important aspect of your business just because of the cost.

You should know how to protect your business legally from the start. That’s why I’m providing you all these resources. It will cost you WAY more to have your legal policies redone if you get yourself into hot water.

WHAT ELSE IS INCLUDED IN THE LEGAL BUNDLE FOR YOUR WEBSITE?

In addition to the three best selling templates above, the Legal Bundle also comes with three different bonuses that are included with each template (valued at $1,175).  All the legal templates are written in such a way where it’s very easy for you to customize and use them right away.

With the Legal Bundle, most bloggers get done within minutes! Imagine all the DAYS and WEEKS worth of time and headache saved where you don’t have to go through other people’s legal policies in order to write yours!

You can’t COPY anyone’s legal policies either because that’s copyright infringement.

With the Legal Bundle, you also get access to our Facebook private support group where you can easily ask questions, connect with other go-getters, bloggers, business owners and get feedback.

You are welcome to join the Facebook private support group even if you don’t purchase any of my legal templates. This Facebook community is open to all bloggers and online entrepreneurs, and I share all kinds of legal and business tips for free!

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE THE LEGAL BUNDLE?

When I started my blogging journey, I joined a lot of Facebook groups. I believe about 15+ groups at the time. In EVERY Facebook group, I saw a common problem – a lot of bloggers and online entrepreneurs were confused, struggling and intimidated about writing their own legal policies.

I was not surprised to see them confused or struggling because I know it’s really tough to write these legal policies on your own unless you have a formal legal education and know what you are doing!

I thought to myself that I had already been helping business owners for over ten years, so why not use my years of legal expertise now to make a valuable contribution to our blogging community?    

So I didn’t waste time! I created these legal templates for any blogger, online entrepreneur, coach, consultant, marketer and course creator within couple of weeks of launching my blog.

My ultimate goal was to make the templates substantive, easy to navigate, comprehensive and affordable, giving you peace of mind knowing these are written by a real lawyer. But at the same time, they won’t break your wallet!

The hardest part was figuring out all the backend stuff like creating four different sales pages, product images, payment integration, etc but like I said, I had an awesome blogging course that guided me through this entire process swiftly!

DO YOU HAVE AN AFFILIATE PROGRAM FOR YOUR LEGAL BUNDLE?

Yes, all my legal templates whether you purchase them individually or as part of the Legal Bundle come with an affiliate program. I’ve quite a few affiliates promoting my Legal Bundle already. As an affiliate, you will earn a generous 40% commission on each product. You can read more details about my affiliate program and how to sign up here

If you have any specific questions, you can always email me. I love making new blogger friends!

DO YOU OFFER LEGAL AUDITS OF BLOGS?

Yes, I do! As I already mentioned, I love conducting legal audits to ensure you are complying with all the legal requirements and are not missing anything in your website’s legal pages.

I have done this already with several bloggers and coaches, and they all have found this service to be extremely helpful. Because it requires a lot of my personal time and commitment, it costs more to schedule an audit than to purchase the Legal Bundle.   

For example, due to the recent changes with the GDPR, some seasoned bloggers purchased my Privacy Policy and/or the Legal Bundle even though they already had all the legal pages setup on their website.

It was more cost effective and efficient for them to purchase professionally written legal policies from a lawyer instead of trying to supplement or revise their website’s legal pages on their own.

It really comes down to peace of mind. If you are not a lawyer, you won’t be confident in your ability to write the legalese yourself.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ANY OTHER TIPS WITH BLOGGERS? 

Yes, there are three things I don’t recommend scrimping on – 1) the legal stuff, 2) your taxes, and 3) your health! All three have serious detrimental consequences on your life making you lose your sleep very quickly!

When it comes to the legal stuff, my recommendation is don’t cut corners and opt for the free templates because you never know when you could end up in legal trouble, and it will cost you THOUSANDS of dollars to hire a lawyer and fight those expensive, draining lawsuits.

So please take the right steps to protect your blog from the beginning. Whether you purchase my Legal Bundle or not, please be smart and take the time to buy the legal templates that are actually drafted by a lawyer. Those are the ones that will truly serve to protect you and your business!

Please comment below to let me know if you are doing that? Is your blog legally protected with solid comprehensive policies or are you making these legal mistakes like most bloggers?


About the Author:

3 legal mistakes most bloggers make. How to protect your blog - privacy policy, disclaimer and more

Amira is a lawyer, blogger and business coach from Florida. She blogs at ASelfGuru.com where she teaches business and legal skills to online entrepreneurs and helps you become your own boss!

You can connect with her on Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter 

 

 


 

Thank you again Amira for sharing all of your knowledge with us!!! It is more than appreciated!!! I highly recommend Amira’s Legal Bundle!!!

Hope you all enjoyed this interview and found it helpful (: I learned a ton!!!! If you enjoyed it, Share it!

3 legal mistakes most bloggers make - tips from a lawyer - how to properly set up a privacy policy and disclosure

 


Check out How to look like a professional blogger from the beginning


 

 

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20 Comments

  1. September 25, 2018 / 2:47 am

    As a purchaser of the legal bundle, I agree that it is a definite must for ALL bloggers. I am not a lawyer & have no idea of what I was leaving myself open to not having the correct legal documents on my website. Now I feel much more confident knowing I have covered myself. The templates were so easy to customise & took hardly any time at all. I am from Australia & was still able to use these templates with a few minor alterations. I wholeheartedly believe that every single blogger out there (even if you are not making an income from your blog), needs to be covered legally even if you are only collecting email addressess for a mailing list.
    Thanks for writing such a great article & auditing the free policies that exists. Just makes me that much more confident in my purchase.

    • ellduclos
      Author
      September 25, 2018 / 4:37 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the legal templates too! Amira really is a wealth of knowledge! So thankful for her and her products!! I was so lost beforehand.

    • September 26, 2018 / 1:18 am

      Aww, thank you so much for your wonderful feedback, Michelle! I really appreciate it, and I’m very glad to see my legal templates exceeding your expectations 🙂 You were also really smart to take care of the legal stuff before you finalized your website!

      Thanks,
      Amira at ASelfGuru

  2. September 25, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Hey Ell, this is so very important. Not just for legal purposes, but many brands, businesses, ad companies, and affiliate marketing platforms won’t work with you unless you have everything in place.

    Many bloggers are also unaware of the hefty fines under laws like GDPR. This is such an informative post! Great tips.

    • ellduclos
      Author
      September 25, 2018 / 11:45 pm

      Exactly! So glad Amira was so willing to share this with all of us 😍

    • September 26, 2018 / 1:24 am

      Thank you, Chhavi! You are absolutely correct about brands and businesses not working with you unless your website is legally compliant. And yes, there are also huge fines under the GDPR for non-compliance. In addition to the GDPR provisions, you need a proper Privacy Policy that’s comprehensive enough to protect you otherwise as you can see above, many companies get sued all the time for not having proper Privacy Policies, etc. I’m so glad you found the post helpful and informative!

      Thanks,
      Amira at ASelfGuru

  3. September 25, 2018 / 1:54 pm

    Great interview! I’ve seen Amira in some FB groups and she’s the real deal. Always friendly and willing to help us noob bloggers.

    • ellduclos
      Author
      September 25, 2018 / 11:44 pm

      Yes she is!!! 🙌🏻

    • September 26, 2018 / 1:29 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Craig! They mean a lot to me, and I’m thrilled to see you become an affiliate for my Legal Bundle 🙂

  4. October 1, 2018 / 11:36 am

    So much good information is in this post! Thank your sharing it with us and I will be checking out the templates soon because I feel like I need better disclosures on my site.

    • ellduclos
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      So glad you found it helpful! Thank you (:

    • October 1, 2018 / 11:22 pm

      That’s great, Shirley! You need both disclosures and disclaimers on your website. My templates cover both. Let me know if you need any help 🙂

  5. October 1, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    Thank you for the valuable information!

    • ellduclos
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 7:31 pm

      So glad you found it helpful (:

    • October 2, 2018 / 3:15 am

      You are welcome! Glad to help 🙂

  6. October 1, 2018 / 5:40 pm

    My eyes are wide open! So glad Amira is part of the blogging community and is helping us get important part of our blogs right. I’m going to definitely be purchasing these templates as soon as I return from my trip in a few weeks.

    • ellduclos
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 7:31 pm

      She is so great!!! So glad she helped me (:

    • October 2, 2018 / 3:16 am

      Aww thank you so much, Kathy! Really appreciate your kind words and happy to help any time!

  7. October 19, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    I’m guilty of using the free privacy policy but not anymore. I will get in touch with Amira in her Facebook group because as bloggers, we don’t think about all the legal stuff. But she has provided such great information and thank you for doing this for us. I’m going to look into purchasing her legal package because I don’t want to make these legal mistakes. Our online business is too important to risk getting sued!

    • ellduclos
      Author
      October 19, 2018 / 5:10 pm

      Yes exactly!!! I definitely recommend it! She is such a gem!

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