Making money off of your blog is the goal for many bloggers, for some, it’s a goal that appears after years of doing it, and for others, it’s the sole purpose of their blog existing at all.

And it is completely understandable with the number of blog posts around from people claiming to make tens of thousands of dollars every month from their blogs. If they can, why can’t you? Right?

And those articles usually cover topics such as strategies to monetize your blogs or ways to massively increase your traffic, but they rarely cover what they had to do to cover their digital (and physical) selves from legal problems. After all, these blogs aren’t a magical source of money, they are, whether you want to admit it or not, online businesses and as such, are bound to some legalities.

In this article, I want to share with you a list of legal aspects you need to take into account when trying to monetize your blog.

So what do you really need?

Blogging legally is not something you can simply do with a blog post or a well position disclaimer. There are several pages you need to have on your site to make sure you’re covered. Here is the rundown:

Privacy Policy

Assuming you’re capturing user information, you’ll need to have a Privacy Policy available. Now, let me explain what “capturing user information” means: if you’re asking users for email, name, or any other personal information, you’re definitely falling into this category. But also, if you’re capturing traffic data using Google Analytics, for instance, you’re capturing user information. So one could say that by default (since most bloggers that are going down the monetization road would add some kind of tracking on their site) your blog will need this page.

And what exactly is a Privacy Policy? In practice, this is just another page for your site, one that most blogs usually link inside their footer. In this page you state what kind of information you’re collecting, how are you storing it, what kind of safeguards you have in place and how are you complying with GDPR (the EU General Data Protection Regulation) laws. I know, it sounds like A LOT, and it is, especially if you’re not exactly technical or legally oriented.

Also Read:  How to Start an Email List for Your Blog

Lucky for you, there are tons of sites out there that provide templates for you to fill in. They do cost some money (depending on who’s selling it, it might go from 40 US dollars and up). This is a blog from Mariam Tsaturyan, a Lawyer turned blogger who’s selling these templates (the one for the Privacy Policy and the others we’re about to see) for a bundle price of 160 US Dollars (or just 65 USD dollars for the Privacy Policy template alone). It is a lot of money, yes, especially if you’re just starting out. But then again, you might end up having to pay a lot more if a lawsuit hits you and you’re not covered.

Finally, that being said, some believe there is no need to pay for these templates, and have created free online template generators that you might want to consider. The downside here is that there is no lawyer behind the actual policy to make sure you’re not adding anything weird to your site. If you have a very custom site, on an unusual niche, then maybe you’d benefit more from having an actual lawyer writing the template thinking of your needs. If on the other side, you’re running a very standard blog, maybe using a FREE tool for this might be the solution.

Tip: a good thing to add as part of your Privacy Policy, is an affiliate disclaimer, stating that you’re monetizing your blog using affiliate links, but you’re not responsible for the state of the products you’re recommending and thus, not liable if something goes wrong with them.

Terms and Conditions

This is another page required by the law. In your Terms and Conditions  page (because yes, just like the previous one, this is also a new page you need to add) you’ll be adding the basic rules of engagement with your readers. In other words: who owns the content of the site, how can it be used and when, who’s the intended audience for your blog and so on.

Again, although mandatory by law, some sell or recommend using lawyer created templates, and those who do not see a need to pay for it. Like I mentioned above, Mariam’s site has a template you can purchase for 60 US dollars or the bundle which also includes the T&C.

Also Read:  Digital Marketing Trends 2019 (Infographic)

Or you can use the same FREE template generator for the T&C page, it’ll be a generic one, but if you’re not working on a complex site, then it might be exactly what you need.

Disclaimers

For a perfect example of what a disclaimer is, go to the end of this article, you’ll find one from me there. But just to explain the reasoning behind them, the point of a disclaimer is to exonerate yourself from any problems that your readers might find when following what your articles are recommending.

And this is exactly what you should be taking into consideration when deciding whether or not to actually add one. I mean, disclaimers aren’t mandatory, so you shouldn’t be adding them on every post, it makes no sense and your readers might think you’re up to no good, trying to avoid being held responsible for something they can’t really see.

So, my recommendation to decide whether to add or not a disclaimer in one of your articles or pages is to understand the type of article you’re providing. If your readers can take something of what you’re saying and run with it as if it were a piece of direct advice, then, by all means, add the disclaimer  (this is very relevant for content such as product review, articles comparing different services, actual direct advice.

If on the other hand, you’re simply giving your opinion over something others can’t really act upon, such as this article I wrote about blogging lessons from Stranger Things then you don’t really need to add anything, that content can’t really come back and bite you in your proverbial butt.

Tip: Another place where adding a disclaimer might be interesting, is your articles where you add affiliate links. In those cases, it’s important to be forthright with your readers and let me know you’re actually adding affiliate links and how that will not affect them, and in turn, earn you some money if they decide to follow.

Here is a quick example of what that might look like:

Disclosure

The final mandatory legal document you should have easily available on your blog is the disclosure page.

In this page, you’re basically disclosing every way you’re getting income from your writing (be it affiliate links, sponsored blog posts and others). In practice, the disclaimers for affiliate links (like the one I mentioned above) and the disclosure pages are quite similar, having the first one being a subset of the content added on the latter. Many even tend to add a link on their disclaimers directly taking the user (if they want) to the disclosure page.

Also Read:  Food Blog Guide: How to Start in 2019

Use Mariam’s website to get yours for 65 US dollars, or generate it for free from DisclosurePolicy.org.

You should also pay attention when joining affiliate networks since some of them might actually require you to directly disclose your relationship with them. One of these is Amazon with their affiliate program. If you’re an Amazon affiliate, you need to directly specify it on a different, specific page.

Here is an example of such a policy, written for Pat Flynn’s SmartPassiveIncome.com site, check it out if you’re trying to write your own.

Conclusion

These are the top three pages you need to have in your site/blog if you’re aiming to both, stay above the law in regards to your users and their privacy, as well as being able to legally monetize your content however you see fit.

Hopefully, with the links I’ve shared, you’ll be able to add your custom policies to your blogs quite fast if you don’t already have them, after all, they’re just documents you can copy & paste. That being said, if the above links aren’t cutting it for you (either too expensive or just don’t trust the free ones), you can Google for other options, there are tons out there.

Now let me turn it back on to you: have you had to add these policies to your blog? Which services did you use? Did you go the FREE route? Or did you purchase yours? Share in the comments below so others can learn from your experience!

My Disclaimer: Note that I’m not a lawyer and thus will not be held liable if you decide to follow one of the links listed in this article and run into problems. When deciding whether to use or not a paid set of templates, you should use your better judgment and ideally, get legal advice before moving forward with the transaction.

Author bio
Fernando Doglio is a software developer turned part-time blogger, who’s been 
working at mywritingcorner.net trying to help new bloggers break out and start  
making their hobbies a reality.