If you work in the online space in any capacity, odds are that you have your own website (and not to be a nag, but if you don't— you really should). Your website is your digital portfolio: a scrapbook of your evolution over time, a home to your best work, a central hub for your business that generates income.
Building a successful website means investing a lot of time, money and effort on design, content, hosting, and more. The legal side of your website deserves the same level of prioritization and attention! Being proactive from the start protects you and your business from potential legal and financial woes later.
Many bloggers have website policies on their sites that they created some time ago using an online free policy generator, or they found being used on another site and updated using their own name and URL. While they are to be commended for being proactive, these policies may not be sufficient: different types of websites will require different, specific types of disclaimers, and as the world of influencer marketing grows and evolves your policies should be updated to evolve as well.
Here is a step by step guide to help you audit your website policies.
We recommend that all websites have these main policies:
Let's go over each of those so you can determine if you need to make changes for your site.
Every time you make an online purchase or sign up for a new service, you're faced with terms of service. Often, this means you're required to physically scroll through a wall of legalese and check a box confirming you read and understand these terms before completing your transaction.
We know, you don't read always those terms completely and make sure you fully understand them before moving on, and we don't either. Your readers aren't likely to dive into your terms of service in the same way they do your other content, but it's still critical for influencers to include them.
Member of the Amazon affiliate program? Make sure to add that statement required for program participation to your terms.
If you collect email addresses for your newsletter list or as a prerequisite for leaving comments, your visitors are entrusting you with their personal information. It’s extremely important (not to mention, common courtesy) to explain what you are going to do with that information. It's also required by law in many places, so don't put this off.
At minimum, your policy should include:
- A description of what personal information you collect.
- How you use the information
- What access third parties may have to the information
- Whether or not you sell or rent the personal information
- How to opt-out
Ever had a mystery rash or specific symptom and consulted Dr. Google? (We're raising our hands!) The medical sites you visited likely included language mentioning that their content was for informational purposes only and not medical advice. That’s a common instance of a website disclaimer.
Website disclaimers make clear to your audience that your website is informational and that they should seek the advice of a professional when needed. This aims to ensure that you are not held responsible for how your readers use the information your site provides.
Our DIY Website Disclaimer download includes a general template and 16 specific disclaimers that you can customize if you write about any of the following:
- Business coaching
- DIY beauty products
- DIY tutorials
- Essential oils
- Financial information
- Forward looking statements
- Health coaches
- Holistic healing
- Legal information
- Medical information
- Mental health information
- Registered dietitians
Do you have the website policies you need?
Remember, be proactive when it comes to your website policies. Get everything you need in place to ensure you and your audience knows what to expect.
Take time to audit—today
Go through your website policies and make sure they are thorough, specific to your needs, and up to date. It's not the most exciting homework to be assigned, but it only takes a few minutes and does so much to protect you and your website.
Don't put it off; take care of it today!