5 Crucial Things Every Blogger Needs To Know
As a new blogger, you are probably not aware of a few crucial things, that every blogger needs to know. Some of which could land you some serious fines. Say what?! That’s right, if you aren’t following particular blogging ‘’rules’’, you could land yourself in a heap of trouble.
Which is why I have compiled this list, to save you from making some fatal mistakes that no blogger or business owner wants to make. I know for me, I didn't have the slightest clue about most of these.
Heads up: The information in this blog post is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be legal advice of any kind. I’m not a legal professional.
1)YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE A PHYSICAL ADDRESS IN ALL EMAILS TO YOUR SUBSCRIBERS + HAVE A CLEAR WAY FOR SUBSCRIBERS TO OPT-OUT OF THE EMAILS.
The Canadian and United States laws are quite similar when it comes to this. In the United States, it's called the CAN-SPAM Act. In Canada, it's called CASL. When you send your readers an email, you MUST have your REAL address at the bottom of each email, or face a $16,000 fine PER email. Scary, huh?
Note: If you are a blogger who doesn't live in Canada or The United States, most likely you also have an anti-spam legislation, so you should always do your research for your country!
There is one way around this, for those of you who don’t want your home address out there for the world to see. Okay, nobody wants their home address out for the world to see, especially those of you who are parents.
Get a P.O Box.
They’re not expensive and will save you a ton of money down the road. Just call your local Post Office to inquire.
The same goes for giving your readers a way to ‘’opt-out’’ of your newsletter. You must have one of those ‘’unsubscribe’’ buttons somewhere on every email. It's non-negotiable.
Luckily, most email marketing programs like MailChimp have this already built in. Neat, huh? But always check, to make sure before you send out an email.
Out of all the things every blogger needs to know, this is one of the most vital. Just remember... $16,000 PER EMAIL.
2) YOU CANNOT USE JUST ANY IMAGE YOU FIND ON THE INTERNET; YOU MUST FOLLOW COPYRIGHT LAWS FOR EVERY IMAGE YOU USE.
This was a big shocker for me. I could not wrap my brain around the fact that I could not grab a picture off of Google and paste it on my website. Why may you ask?
This is a significant copyright infringement.
So when you're using images on your blog and blog posts (and I highly suggest that you do), you need to be very careful and abide by the law. If you haven't gotten direct permission to use the photo, then you are breaking the law, majorly.
It doesn’t matter if:
- It was an accident, and you didn’t do this knowingly.
- You immediately take the photo down after receiving a DMCA notice (of course you should remove it if you receive a DMCA takedown notice, but this doesn’t absolve you; you can still have a lawsuit filed against you.)
- You resized or altered the image.
- You haven't made a cent from your blog yet.
- You have a disclaimer on your blog, or ‘’gave credit’’ or your blog post.
None of that makes it okay, you are still liable and could face a lawsuit! Not worth it, girl.
So where can you obtain copyright-free images?
Thankfully, there are plenty of places to find copyright-free photos. You can buy a subscription to a stock photo library like Turquoise & Palm or Create Her Stock. Purchasing stock photos from one of the sites I mentioned will save you money since most stock photo library subscriptions are costly. Or you can find a TON of gorgeous FREE stock photos online.
A few of my favorite places to find free stock photos are:
Haute Chocolate, Wonderlass, Rekita Nicole, Turquoise & Palm, and Picjumbo.
Just make sure when you’re looking for stock photos that you pay attention to whether they require attribution or not - because some do. Stock photos all have different rules, but usually, they fall under the Creative Common Licence.
There are also what’s known as ‘’Public Domain’’ photos. Thich means the creator of the images has waived all rights, and the pictures are free for anyone to use.
Do a little research, and you will find loads of amazing photos for your blog. Just please, don’t ever use images off of Google or Pinterest - It's so not worth it, and there’s an excellent chance someone will notice, and you will be sued.
Take a look through my blog; I haven't paid for a single image, and I have some beautiful photos. I utilize all the free stock photo sites.
3) YOU MUST DISCLOSE IF YOU ARE BEING COMPENSATED IN ANYWAY.
Not disclosing when you are working with a company is another biggie. When you are doing affiliate marketing or sponsored posts, you absolutely must state this in a clear manner for your readers to see.
There is some misconception about how this works.
With affiliate marketing, you must state that there are affiliate links in your post, at the beginning of every post. And not just that, you also now need to tell your readers what that means. And, you need to have an actual page on your blog with your full disclaimer/disclosure.
For example, I usually write: ''This post contains affiliate links. This means at no cost to you; I will receive compensation if you purchase something through one of these links. For more about my disclaimer, click HERE'' (and you would have a link back to your full disclaimer page.)
With sponsored posts, it's the same - you must make it abundantly clear that it's a sponsored post. You can write something like this at the beginning of the post: '' This is a sponsored post, but the opinions and views are all my own.'' On Instagram, you can just use a hashtag like #ad or #sponsored. However, something like #spon is not sufficient, as it's not clear and some people may not understand it.
Make it apparent that you're working with a company or brand, and have integrity by only working with brands and corporations that you use or trust.
4) IF YOU MAKE ANY MONEY FROM YOUR BLOG, THE GOVERNMENT CONSIDERS YOU A ''BUSINESS, '' AND YOU MUST CLAIM YOUR EARNINGS.
I'm sure even as a new blogger you know that when you're self-employed, you still need to file taxes, but I bet you weren't aware that the government considers you a sole proprietor the SECOND you start bringing in any money with your blog.
So what does that mean?
Well, it differs from country to country, but it means after you start earning so much money (it's a different amount for different countries), you will have to claim that money at tax time. But that isn't bad news. Because as a business owner, you also can write off loads of things when doing your taxes. So always keep your invoices and receipts. So when you're paying for web hosting, editing software like Grammarly, Canva/Adobe, office supplies, and more; you can write off these expenses!
I would recommend keeping track of all your expenses.
Treat your blog like a business, from day one.
5) SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR FRIEND.
I'm sure you have an idea how important it is to promote your blog posts after you hit publish, but you may not realize the magnitude of it.
As a new blogger, once you write a kick-ass blog post, nobody is going to see it, if you don't promote, promote, promote.
That means you should open a business account for your blog or small business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and Pinterest. Pinterest has become most blogger's secret weapon.
Yes, it is that powerful.
You should always mix it up, and post other people's content on your social media, as well. Just make sure when you publish a new blog post that you're promoting it in every way possible, and you will start to see traffic to your blog in no time.
I hope this post was helpful, and maybe you learned something you didn't already know. Some of these things are so important that it really should be common knowledge for all bloggers. Sadly, it's not, though. So spread the word. :)