Guides

Setting Up Your Blog Legally

Hey y'all! This week my friend Jackie is bringing you a guest post all about setting up your blog legally! This contains some seriously great advice and action steps for bloggers who are getting started and want to make sure all they're keeping it legal! Be sure to read to the bottom and connect with Jackie on social media!

"Ready to get your blog set up legally? Click here!" [tweet that!]

Thanks so much to Kaitlyn for hosting me today. I know how it can be super overwhelming when you are just starting out with your blog, especially when it comes to the legal side of things. That’s where I come in. I’m an attorney and have been blogging for nearly 5 years, so today I’m going to share how to set up your blog legally.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of everything every blog needs, but these are the legal basics you need to include for your blog. First we will go over a few of the legal statements you need on your blog. (Disclaimer: I’m a US-based attorney so this info is directed towards US bloggers, but it may also apply to international bloggers. Check your country’s laws for more information about laws and regulations in your country.)


Copyrights

First let’s discuss copyrights, since copyrights are what will protect your creative work, including your blog content. In the US, copyrights are the legal system which give creators the right to control copying of their work. This means they have the exclusive right over their work (for actions such copying, reuse, selling, etc.) for a limited period of time. Others can’t use their work without permission.

In the US your work is automatically copyright protected from the moment of creation, without you needing to formally file anything.

Even though you have that automatic protection, it’s still a good idea to remind others of your copyright rights over your content. You can do this by including a short copyright notice on every page of your blog and a longer statement somewhere else on your blog, indicating that you aren’t (or are) okay with others taking and using your work without your permission.


Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions can be thought of like the “rules” of your blog. In this statement, you can tell your readers where kind of behavior is allowed on your blog, being both actions by you as the blogger and the allowable actions of your readers. This would be things like not allowing offensive comments, your longer copyright statement, a privacy statement (discussed next), what would happen if there is a dispute, etc.

Having a clear and detailed terms and conditions statement can help to protect your blog and also make you look more professional and serious.

"Some quick 'legal tweaks' can make you appear more professional online!" [tweet that!]


Privacy Policy Statement

Every blog must have a privacy statement, if you collect any personal information. Pretty much every blog or website collects some sort of personal info, like names and addresses or email addresses, through comments or using tracking cookies. If you collect this info, you need a privacy policy statement that tells your readers what info you collect, how you collect it and what you do with that info.


Sponsored Content

Lots of blogs work with companies or brands to monetize. Whenever you have any sort of sponsored content (where you’re being paid, using affiliate links or received something free in exchange for a review or post), you need to disclose it. It needs to be very clear to your readers whenever you have a monetary interest.

Your disclosure needs to be “clear and conspicuous” and should be as close as possible to the thing you’re promoting. The purpose is to let your readers and potential consumers know about your monetary interest, so that they can make a fully informed decision.


Disclaimers

Disclaimers are important for letting your readers know that they should take the content of your blog “as is,” meaning that you aren’t providing professional advice and you won’t be liable or responsible if someone takes your blog content as advice and then has issues.

This might seem like common sense, but it’s important to include a statement like this and it can be a part of your terms and conditions. Having this sort of statement isn’t a guarantee that you’ll never have issues arise, but it never hurts to have a clear statement in case a situation does come up at some point.


Email List

If you have an email list or newsletter set up for your blog, just make sure that you are complying with the email marketing laws. In general, your emails need to have a few things in order to comply with the US laws. The main US law is all about avoiding spam, so the rules in place are mainly related to making sure your emails don’t look like spam.

Some countries require that people affirmatively opt in before you can add them to your email list, but the US law doesn’t have this requirement. Instead, the law wants you to make it clear and simple for people to unsubscribe or opt out. This means you need to have an unsubscribe option in every email and you need to actually unsubscribe them when they ask. This is why it’s a bad idea to “buy” or add subscribers without their permission. You could be adding someone who actually already opted out, so then you would be in violation of the law.

Every email needs to include your physical address (or a PO Box) because this helps to show that you aren’t a spammer. Lastly, all of your emails need to be honest, meaning you don’t have misleading subject or “from” lines. Next,


I know that there is A LOT to think about, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Many of the legal issues surrounding setting up your blog can be done once and you won’t need to worry about the legal side again until if/when you change something in how you run your blog/business.

If you are just getting started thinking about the legal side of running your blog, check out my FREE email course – Legalize Your Blog


Jackie has been blogging for over 4 years and has been a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania for nearly 7 years. Jackie started her blog, Jade and Oak, as a creative outlet when she was working as a litigator. She now helps bloggers and small business owners make sure that they are keeping everything legal, all while working her day job. When she isn’t working, Jackie enjoys spending time with her husband and their two pugs, taking ballet classes and traveling.

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Jackie is providing a special coupon code for TheCrownFox readers to get her Starting Your Blog Legally Checklist for 20% off using the promo code CROWNFOX. Learn more about all of her legal guides and templates in her Legal Marketplace.


5 Squarespace Hacks To Improve Your Search Engine Optimization

Is Squarespace bad for SEO? I hear this question a loooooot. Here’s the deal: not paying attention to SEO is bad for SEO. But wait, wait: what’s SEO?

SEO is internet-speak for Search Engine Optimization, which basically means can the Google robots understand your site enough to make sure it shows up organically when people search relevant topics.

For whatever reason, Squarespace gets a bad rap when it comes to SEO, but there are actually quite a few measures you can take to help your SEO (that you should be doing regardless of your preferred platform). I’m going to cover 5 specific ways to improve your SEO on Squarespace today.


SITE TITLE

First things first, when you’re setting up your Squarespace website you’ll see a left hand panel with a few options to click. I’m not sure if it’s everyone’s instinct, but mine was to click “Design.” From there the first option you see says “Logo & Title.”

The menu that opens up from there is an important one. The very first section asks you to fill out your Site Title and Tag Line. This is the first area I want you to highlight what you do by using keywords that relate to your business.

With SEO it’s important to have things “make sense” and not be completely ridiculously obvious that you’re trying to win over the Google robots. I recommend putting your business name here and then a few essential key words. Mine says: “The Crown Fox | Branding Design, Logos, Websites, Strategy for Online Business.” There are quite a few words that people will search for that relate to what I offer I there, but it reads as a sentence that makes sense and is fluid.

Just a side note: I included logos because I understand a lot of my potential clients start off thinking that they “just need a logo” and will search that term over “branding.” For your own business take the time and research (my favorite way is to just ASK people) what they would search in relation to your business. If you are a local business that works primarily in your town, definitely be sure to include that.

The Tag Line is another area to throw some more keywords in, but be wary that on most templates this does show up somewhere so I wouldn’t sacrifice the look/feel of your website for a huge string of words. Mine is simply “branding design + strategy.”


SEARCH ENGINE DESCRIPTION

Once that’s done and saved, travel back to the main menu (click the arrow in the top left panel that will navigate you back through the different menus). This time I want you to scroll down to Settings > Marketing > SEO.

The first section here is another huge SEO booster. This is what people will actually see when they search for you or if you come up as a result: the 1-2 lines underneath your website name.

Again, focus on making real sentences or at least fragments that make sense versus a jumble of keywords. I incorporated my services and my mission statement into this area: “Cohesive Branding, Website Design, Brand Strategy | I create cohesive branding for small business owners, to they can find their success, become influential, & stand out as the authority in their industry.”

So I have words that I think people will search for plus a small bio about my business that encourages the click through if someone is a small business owner who wants these different things. Only the first portion of this actually shows, so there’s not a huge benefit to making it excessively long.


PAGE DESCRIPTIONS + TITLES

The next focus should be on each of your pages within your website. If you head back to the main panel, the first option says “Pages.” This is where every page for your Squarespace website is housed. Each one has the option of being optimized.

If you hover over a page a small gear icon appears to the right. Clicking that will bring up a window that allows you to change the “Navigation Title” (what actually shows on the top of your browser), “Page Title”, and further down a “Page Description.”

For each page you should take notice of these areas and make sure they have keywords and content in them. SEO Robots look here when they index your website, so leaving it blank is a missed opportunity. This might take a little bit of time if you have a ton of pages, but is worth it. Maybe you have a sales page that has slightly different key words or something that someone might be able to find separately from your overall website! There could be a gold mine hidden in there that you’ve never taken the opportunity to grab.

Don't miss these SEO Hacks for your Squarespace site! [Tweet That!]


IMAGES (NAMES, SIZES, DESCRIPTIONS)

Another huge SEO misstep is not paying attention to your images. The SEO robots (does anyone else actually picture little robots? I do!) can really “see” pictures so instead they look at the actual size of the picture, the name of the picture file, and the description you’ve attached to it.

The size of the file and naming the file comes before you even upload it to your website, so take care of that first. The size should be web friendly which means it doesn’t need to be a huge 300DPI image, but rather 72DPI. This will let it load faster and overall improve your website.

If you’re confused about this just make sure you are exporting files for web use or look for free websites that will shrink your files. A good website designer will take care of this initially for you too.

The file name itself should be something relevant with keywords. For my blog post graphics I usually use 2-3 words from the blog title that are also keywords (maybe like ‘brand’ or ‘blogging’ or ‘online business’) and then my website name. This also matters when it comes to pinning your blog post graphics [link] so you’re really killing two SEO birds (robots?) with one stone.

When you upload an image to Squarespace you have two places that you can enter a description. First is as a caption, second is in a spot they (misleadingly, in my opinion) call ‘filename’.  I fill out a lengthy description in the ‘filename’ area that describes the image (and also doubles as the Pinterest description whenever I pin it). Even if you’re not on Pinterest still take the time to add some essential keywords into either the caption or the filename so you’re not missing another great SEO-boosting opportunity.


BLOGGING

This one might be obvious, but blogging is hugely beneficial to your SEO. It’s filled with relevant key words, made up of real sentences (not an obvious ploy to boost your ranking), and is a loooot of content, right?!

I understand that blogging might not *~be~* for everyone. So even if you do podcasts or videos or periscopes or whatever, create show notes that contain relevant words so that the robots can process that (similar to an image, they can’t listen to or watch other forms of content).

If you think about a website with 5 pages of content that features relevant key words, that might seem like a lot. But then picture those 5 pages + 50 blog posts! That website will instantly be able to rank higher because there is so many more variations of keywords, pages for other websites to link to, etc.

Within your blog it's a great idea to use hierarchy to point out to the robots what is super important to pay attention to. I covered other things to include on your Squarespace blog yesterday!



SEO Squarespace Designer

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!