If you have a blog or online business of any kind, then one of the best and most important investments you can make is getting yourself legally protected.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the most overlooked investments, with a lot of business owners falling into the trap of thinking that since they’re “just small fish,” they really don’t need to worry about all the legal stuff and it can wait until they make it to the big leagues.
But here’s the thing: without proper legal protection, your online business or blog is at risk – YOU are at risk. And the consequences can be extremely severe: you could be sued, fined, caught up in lengthy and expensive legal battles, and your website and business could even be shut down.
Scary stuff, right?
So what can you do to protect yourself and your website? In this interview, I ask Amira of ASelfGuru.com all about it.
Amira is a business lawyer, blogger and coach, and she’s created a hugely successful business selling legal templates drafted specifically for bloggers and online entrepreneurs.
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Here’s what we talked about:
Why do online business owners and bloggers need to be thinking about legal protection? And does this apply to hobby bloggers too?
If you visit the FCC website, you can see all the different businesses that have been audited and fined. These are not just large businesses like Facebook or Google! There are small businesses, influencers and bloggers of all types that have been fined or sued.
Remember, lawsuits don’t come by invitation. They come out nowhere. You can never predict what’s going to happen. All you can do is be smart and take precautions.
What are the essential things we need to do to protect our website?
In addition to things like never copying or using other people’s content without permission and having proper contracts in place with your clients and service providers, make sure you have at least the following 3 pages on your website.
Disclaimer and disclosures
A disclaimer is used to limit your liability as regards the information you provide on your website, its purpose, and how it is used by website users. For example, if you blog about personal finances and getting out of debt, you need to have a disclaimer that clearly states that you are not providing financial advice and you make no guarantee that readers will get the results you or your clients got.
You should also include full disclosures to let your website users know about any kind of financial partnerships that you have with other companies, brands or websites, e.g. sponsored posts, affiliate commissions.
Terms and Conditions
This is one people often forget but it’s really important! You can think of the Terms & Conditions page as your website rules – what you allow and don’t allow people to do on your website and with your content, products etc. It includes your refund terms, ownership and copyright of your website’s content, and acceptable and unacceptable use of the website and content.
Amira’s legal templates and how they work
Amira creates affordable legal templates for all your website needs. They’re very quick and easy to customize, and always include clear and simple instructions. And you get lifetime access to updates, so you don’t need to worry about trying to keep track of changes in the law.
Although Amira is a US lawyer, she works with a network of lawyers around the world to make sure her templates are compliant with laws in other major jurisdictions.
If you’d prefer to check out the three essential legal pages templates separately:
Problems with free templates and writing your own legal pages for your website
Free templates might sound appealing, especially when you’re running your blog or biz on a shoestring budget, but they are often difficult to customize, missing vital clauses and may even be drafted so poorly that they’re unenforceable. You get what you pay for when it comes to legal protection and free templates will almost always leave you pretty unprotected and exposed to lawsuits and fines.
DIYing your own legal documents isn’t a good idea unless you have the legal knowledge and expertise in the particular area of law that your documents are covering. And if you have an attorney friend, don’t just assume they can help you and everything will be fine. Even trained lawyers don’t write their own legal documentation for areas of law that they don’t specialize in. So please don’t ask your divorce attorney best friend to write the legal pages that will protect your website.
And finally, never copy someone else’s legal pages or contracts. It’s copyright infringement, which is illegal and can get you into a lot of trouble.