by Christina Scalera
You’ve got the topics nailed down, the shiny new website, your fun new social media graphics picked out, and your adorable dog/cat/child is ready to play model for all the pictures you could possibly want to post… you’re almost ready to announce the launch of your brand spankin’ new blog!
But woah… hold up for just a minute, buckaroo!
Some of you are nodding along, and some of you are going, ‘Wait, what?! What the heck is that?’
There’s no need to get freaked out, these two bits of legal-ese aren’t hard to understand and use, but it is a good idea to have them displayed prominently on your blog. In fact, you could be violating federal law if you don’t.
So let’s talk about what they are, and what you need to do.
At their heart, Privacy Policies are intended to create transparency between users (in our case, readers) and yourself via your blog or website.
If you read blogs (and I’m assuming you do, since you’re starting one) then you know that you leave little bits of your personal information behind when you visit. Things like your IP address, your name (or username), and email. If you make a purchase, there’s even more personal information that can be collected by the site selling you something.
Not only is it legally required, but having one builds a greater sense of trust with your readers and makes you look more professional.
Terms and Conditions
A basic Terms and Conditions policy tells people what they can and cannot do with your original content (like your photos, your content, or that cool idea you talked about in your last post.) If you also sell content, it can be extended to protect you in the event that someone wants a refund or shares your content illegally.
It’s not at all uncommon for photos and content to be shared — with or without the permission of the creator — and often without credit. If this happens to you, what recourse do you have?
This is where a Terms and Conditions can help protect your interests. If you’ve clearly spelled out that you need to be asked for permission before your content is shared, then you’re on firmer ground if you need send a cease and desist letter or claim copyright infringement.
Here again, you can start with a solid, attorney-approved terms & conditions template and customize it to your needs which should covers everything you need and some things you might not have thought of.
Now you’re ready to rumble!
I want to mention a couple other things before I wrap this up.
Second, don’t stress too much about making sure your policies cover every tiny thing. You can always update them as you go along. (It’s a nice thing for your visitors if you include a “last updated on” date, and make sure you mention that the policies can be updated at any time.)
Third, and finally, if you have visitors from the European Union, you should check out this article to make sure you have that extra step covered.
The moral of the story? Privacy Policies and Terms of Conditions are important. It's your ride or die front seat buddy.