When your writing your next article for your blog, probably the last thing on your mind is whether this article will get you sued.
How do you know if your blog is complying with the laws and the FTC won’t come knocking on your door?
Thankfully, you don’t need to be in law school or become a lawyer to understand the blogging laws that I am listing here today.
So I will run you through 6 basic laws that you and your blog need to comply with.
Writers note: I am not a lawyer of any kind, so please consult with a real lawyer if you are unsure about any blog related laws.
Disclose Readers About Paid Endorsements
In 2006, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) was recognizing that bloggers were hiding or dishonest about business practices.
In response, the FTC issued a letter that said all bloggers must be open and honest about any kind of endorsements within their blog.
When FTC means being open and honest about endorsements, they mean being open and honest about any kind of relationship with the company or product you are blogging about.
That means, for example, create an affiliate disclosure if you are an affiliate marketer.
Any posts that contain affiliate links, you need to have an affiliate disclosure in a place where people can see it. Not at the very bottom, not buried in the middle of the post, but right at the top where people can see it and know.
Take my SpyFu Review for example, right below the introduction, I separate my affiliate disclosure from the rest of the article where it can be easily seen at the top of the review.
Cite The Source(s) and Author(s) of any Copied Content
We all know what plagiarism is.
While in middle school it might have given you a bad grade, in the blogging world, that can get you sued.
If you do not own any content that you include in your blog, cite the source(s) and author(s).
This is to protect content from being copied and thrown around by people who didn’t create it.
As I said, to avoid trouble, just cite the source(s) and author(s).
Correct Use of Images
There is legal and illegal usage of images on your blog.
Not necessary referring to what is on the image, but how you use it within your blog.
Laws were created with this in mind to prevent images from coming off as your own when they are not.
There are a couple of approaches you can do to prevent improper or illegal image usage.
- Cite the source(s) and author(s): You can save yourself by just linking or properly citing the owner(s) of the image
- Buy stock, royalty-free images: When you buy stock or royalty-free images, you don’t have to worry about copyright. In my case, I pay a monthly subscription to get access to a library of stock images that I use on this blog.
- Look for CC (Creative Common) images: Creative Commons refers to how to image can be used by other people. If you go to Google Images, you can search for images with tags like “non-commercial use”, “modify”, etc. These tags are how someone else can use that photo.
- Ask for Permission: You are also able to simply go up to the owner of the image, most likely through email, and just ask them if you can use their image.
Paying Tax on Blog Income
If your blog is anticipated to make $1000 or more, it is more than likely that you are going to have to pay federal taxes.
The way that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) sees it, if you are making money with your blog, you are running a business and you are a business owner. Therefore, self-employment taxes may arise.
You shouldn’t be too discouraged though, because if you feel that you won’t have much of any profit after taxes, you can write off items that you use for blogging as a business expense.
By business expense, I mean software, electronics, office supplies, power and internet bills, etc.
If you don’t anticipate that you will be making more than $1000 with your blog, you might be able to avoid paying tax on your blog income.
Keeping Your Audience’s Privacy
Making sure that your audience feels safe when they go on your site is important when developing trust between you and the reader.
- What information you collect from them while they are visiting
- Why you collect the information that you collect
- How the information that you collect will be used
- When will you disclose the information you collected
- How do you protect the information that is collected
- How do you protect the privacy of children
- How are cookies used within your website
- GDPR compliance and visitor rights
- How do you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act
Including Terms and Conditions
If you failed to set up your website the right way, it will be hard for your website to be defended in court.
Your terms and conditions are basically what the rules of your website are. What you and the people who come to your website can and cannot do.
They are important to have on your blog for legal reasons, such as…
- Outlining what is considered lawful within your website
- Terminating someone’s use of your website
- Explaining how your refund and exchange policies work on the products or services that you sell
- Explaining where and how a legal dispute will be handled
- Explaining how copyright infringement will be prevented
While in the beginning, blogging might be a fun hobby to do in your free time, it can have a serious impact on your website and in court if you are uneducated on how to properly run your blog and what to have in it.
I want the best for you and your website, and having your website comply with these laws will definitely save you in the future.
If you have any further questions about anything listed here, or you just want to talk about this topic, leave a comment below this article and I will do my best to answer.