How to protect your blog from legal issues for free

Blogging is an exciting online adventure, and whether you plan to make money with it or not, it is essential your blog is protected with legal pages! Don't get sued because someone tried following your advice, causing something unfortunate to happen. Read our easy blogging guide on how to generate the legal pages, terms of service, privacy policy, and disclaimers you need.

How to protect your blog with legal pages

Regardless of what niche your blog is about, it is super important you have some standard legal pages on your blog to protect yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you are running a business, or are just out there giving free advice, or are a lifestyle blogger. You have an audience who are visiting your blog and reading your content.

If for whatever reason, one of those readers followed your advice but was met with an unfortunate consequence, then they may try to sue you for any damages caused. This is why it is so important to make sure you are covered and that your blog disclaimers are clear in that regard.

There are 3 main disclaimers every blog should have:

  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy
  • Disclaimer

If you sell any products, you will also want to have the following

  • Return Policy

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this post is not legal advice. I am sharing what I have learned from my own research and providing links to helpful tools.

When building out these pages, I do recommend reaching out to a lawyer who specializes in this area. However, there are also many templated (paid and free) that you can get online. It is up to you on the route you want to take. Regardless of where you get these pages, it is important that the information covers what you need it to, and it is clearly presented on your website to save you from liability in the future related to it.

Terms of Service

The Terms of Service is a document that talks about the rules of using your website. Usually things like

  • Who is allowed to use the website (are there any age limits?)
  • What the reader can expect from the website
  • How accurate is the information presented
  • How the information may be modified at any time
  • How the users data may be used
  • What the user is prohibited from doing with the information from the website
  • Warranty information
  • Arbitration clauses
  • Terminating any user accounts
  • Governing Laws

There are a number of online providers who offer example Terms of Services that you can copy and paste onto your website. For this blog, I used Shopify’s free template as I trust them and they provide free templates for you to use. You may need to modify their template depending on the kind of products you may sell.

Privacy Policy

Privacy policies are very very important on websites. If you have customers from Europe visiting your website, you will also need to become familiar and follow the rules of GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulations).

Your privacy policy will need to cover at least the following:

  • What personal information about the customer is stored
  • How that data is used
  • Who that data is shared with (third parties)
  • Email Marketing
  • Use of Cookies
  • How data is stored for minors
  • Use of behavioral advertising
  • How long data is retained for

Similar to the Terms of Service, many providers offer templates for generating a privacy policy. Again, I used Shopify’s Privacy Policy template as it was free and very well written, using clear easy to read descriptions.

Disclaimer

The disclaimer limits your liability for the information presented on your website by referring to the information “as is”, and not constituting as “advice”.

If there is legal action taken against you in the future, you can refer them back to the disclaimer reminding them that they were responsible for any actions taken based on the information on the website.

This is particularly important as the accuracy of your articles may change over time as technology changes or trends/strategies change. It may not be possible for you to always keep all of your articles up to date all the time.

You may need different types of disclaimers for various parts of your website:

  • Information on your website should not be replaced by recommendations from a professional
  • Disclose any affiliations, sponsored posts, affiliate links, and other requirements per FTC rules and regulations
  • Deny responsibility of any third parties you link to or are associated with
  • If you talk about earnings or traffic strategies, indicate they may not see the same results you advertise
  • Disclosures of any reviews or testimonials you received (eg did they get the product/service for free, what was exchanged for the review?)

Disclaimers should be presented in an obvious manner and in the context of the information (ie not hidden away in your Terms of Service or in the footer of a page).

Return Policy

If you website sells any kind of service or product to a customer, it is important your customers knows what the return or refund policy is for those items. This helps clear up any misunderstandings if the customer needs to return an item.

If you have a service that is provided, how long does the customer have to cancel that service or get a refund if they were not happy with it.

If it is a subscription, do you offer prorated refunds? When can they cancel? Are there any penalties or other fees involved.

If you sell physical products, how are those products returned. Who pays for the shipping? What if the products are returned opened or damaged?

Shopify offers free Return Policy templates also - since they specialize in online commerce. For my website, since I don’t sell physical products I removed some of those sections, and adapted some of their existing ones to be more tailored towards the services I do offer.

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