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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.


A Guide To Growing Your Email List on ConvertKit

ConvertKit is the email tool created by Nathan Barry that I, and many other online business owners, use to communicate with their subscriber list (with free content, weekly newsletters, etc). I get inspired to write blog posts a multitude of ways, but this came to me after helping many clients get set up on ConvertKit. If you haven’t heard of ConvertKit yet, I wrote a whole post about why I swear by it and how it can help your business. Today is more a tutorial on actually using ConvertKit, but I am going to highlight how to get started capturing email addresses and sending out content.

When I got started on ConvertKit I had about 30 subscribers. I started using it in November of last year. Now, about 7 months later I have over 2,000 subscribers (with active sweeps removing inactive subscribers, too!). My free-mium course #1WkBrand (no longer offered) has had over 750 students enroll. I can attest some of that to my efforts, and myself, but I’d be mistaken if I didn’t give some of the credit to ConvertKit for making it so dang easy.

So, let’s get started. The first thing is to go in with a plan of WHAT we are creating. Are you creating an email sequence (sales funnel, course, etc.) or just a simple opt-in form for access to a resource library? What’s the end goal? I’m going to show you how the Forms, Sequences, and Automations tools work in ConvertKit today, which should set you up for any sort of opt-in you are trying to make.


FORMS/LANDING PAGES 

When you create your account and log in you will be taken to your forms (or landing pages). If you are just getting started you won’t see anything there besides the option to “+ Create Form”. Forms (or landing pages) are where you create the actual opt-in form that will appear on your website or as a stand alone landing page (hint: there's a form at the bottom of this post!). Once you click “+ Create Form” you will be given the option of creating a landing page or a form.

A landing page is hosted on ConvertKit and a completely separate-from-your-website entity. It captures email addresses and names and functions the same as a form, but it would be a free standing landing page. Remember the last webinar you signed up for? That was probably on some sort of landing page (either through ConvertKit, or maybe Leadpages). A form on the other hand is something you can embed into your website. I have a lot of forms throughout my website. There are some in the sidebar of this very blog post! Those were created through ConvertKit and them I embedded them into my website.

For this example, let’s create a form. So click on that and then you will be brought to three options of “types” of forms to start with. This is changeable later on; so don’t be afraid of choosing wrong. I usually go with the simplest one that just has a spot for name, email, and a subscribe button. There is an even simpler option that doesn’t require a name, but I like having my subscriber’s names! Anyway, click on whichever option you want to move forward with and you will then be brought to the default view of the form. You can use the wand-looking tool to customize the colors and make it more on-brand, but be sure to click save before moving into the settings.

Under settings you have a lot of different options to read through and adapt for your needs. You can change from a form to a landing page, if you have changed your mind on what you need. You can and should name the form something that will make sense to you. And finally you can decide what happens after someone clicks subscribe (or whatever you pay have changed the text to). So sometimes I just have a success message show and it says something like “great! Head over to your inbox for more information!” but other times I’ll redirect to a page – maybe a thank you page/social share page so that after someone subscribes they can share the information with their peers easily. The next tab down (on the left) brings you to the incentive email. This is that email you get when you “confirm your subscription.” Again you can customize what happens in this email (or if it happens at all). The next tab down is where you get the code to actually embed the form into your website. ConvertKit gives you the raw HTML if you are feeling like you want more customization, but if that’s not your cup of the tea, the simple JavaScript code will work great!

In Squarespace you can simply add a <code block> and insert that line of javaScript in and voila – easy as pie! 


SEQUENCES

“Sequences” is the next link over in the navigation. Again, if you are just starting out it will be blank with the option to “+ Create Sequence”.  Clicking that will ask you to give your new sequence a title and then bring you to a page with a laid-out suggestion of how you could set up a great sales funnel (Thanks Nathan!). These are all in draft mode now, but if you were creating a sales funnel this is a great outline to follow. 

Otherwise you can go through and create all your own emails in a sequence. Maybe it’s a seven-day course, or just an automatic welcome email. It can be as short or as long as you like. The important part is at the bottom to change the status to “published” and save your changes often! At the top of each email you can set how many days it takes to appear in your subscribers inbox in relation to the previous email. So “0” would make it appear automatically, but then if you want to wait a few days between emails you could have another one appear maybe “2” or “3” days later. 

Within the email itself you can use the normal formatting tools to create hierarchy, insert links and pictures, and “brand” your email. I personally recommend avoiding too many flashy effects and think with emails the simpler the better.


AUTOMATIONS

So you have a form and you have a sequence, but how do they actually work together? That’s where the automations come in. Automations are the set of rules that tell everything how to work together. So for most of your endeavors on ConvertKit you want a few things to happen: someone to subscribe to your list, be tagged as xyz subscriber (so you know where they came from), and to be added to an email sequence.

By clicking “+ Add Rule” to the right you can make that happen. It’s set up as triggers and actions. So a trigger might be signing up for a certain form (which will appear in a drop down menu), and the action would be adding a tag and subscribing to a sequence (you can have more than one actions!).  This means that once someone subscribes to your form that you’ve embedded on your site they will be tagged accordingly and dropped into the email sequence that you created (the sales funnel or course or whatever you made). 

Automations take a little bit to get the hang of, or at least they did for me. In the beginning I had to actually write out what I wanted to happen so I could remember – okay one form for my blog post resource vault, they sign up, they get tagged as “blog post resource vault sign up”, they get the email with the password to enter the vault… there’s a lot to remember! So I recommend, if you are like me, make that checklist the first few times so that you cover everything with your automations!

This post contains affiliate links for ConvertKit, but I would never recommend something I didn't *know* works wonderfully. 



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!