Your blog should consist of your blog post content in addition to website pages dedicated to complying with the law and creating a great user experience for readers. This helps you avoid legal ramifications and makes it easy for your readers to support your business through purchases of products and services you sell and endorse.
1. Legal Disclosures Page
Some bloggers create an entire page for each legal disclosure on their blog, however, you can combine many of these pages into one long disclosure page. A blogger that does this really well is REMODELaholic. This blogger has 11 different sections in her disclosure page with a directory at the top, so readers can click to jump to each section. It’s also helpful that she lists the last time these disclosures received an update.
Your blog’s readers have a right to privacy when visiting and interacting with your page. Not only that, but there are laws that protect their privacy (such as General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR), so as a blogger you must let a reader know what data you collect and how you use it.
You might be wondering how you can collect data from your readers if you’re not actually asking for an email address or other personal information. My takeaway: You should absolutely collect emails (read about why in this article on email marketing for bloggers). Also, your blog collects “cookies” from every visitor that comes to your page. A cookie is a small file with information about your reader—every website collects these cookies.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires bloggers to back up any advertising claims with proof. You can usually find this on anything health-related, but it also applies to any financial or legal advice, too. For protection, a legal blogger might have a disclaimer stating they’re not the reader’s lawyer and that the content in the blog is for educational or entertainment purposes only.
If you share income reports or talk about business opportunities, you should include an earnings disclaimer on your disclosures page. Another instance of when you use an earnings disclaimer is when you give investment advice. This helps protect you from liability should a reader not get the same results you or your testimonial did.
The FTC requires you to disclose any affiliate links clearly and conspicuously. Not only should you have this on your disclosure page, but you should also add this to the top of your blog posts. An easy way to auto-add this disclosure at the top of every blog post is to use a plugin like FMTC Affiliate Disclosure. You get to customize this disclosure to say whatever you’d like.
On my personal blog, I like to personalize the disclosure and tell the reader exactly how my family spends the affiliate income received from the blog. It’s a lot like the tip jars you see at food stand locations—some tell you what they spend their tip money on, like a down payment on a car or college tuition. I like to think this helps increase the chance someone will use one of our links to make a purchase.
Sponsored Post Disclosure
The FTC requires bloggers to label sponsored posts. While it isn’t against the law to not disclose a material relationship, you can receive a civil fine of up to $40,000 for non-compliance. You need to include a sponsored post disclosure on both your disclosure page as well as at the top of any sponsored posts.
2. Products & Services Page
If you want to make money blogging, you will likely offer products and services. These include coaching, courses, e-books, physical books, and merchandise. If a reader loves the content you write, they will likely want to support your work by making a purchase. I know that I personally search out for a blogger’s online store after reading a great blog post. More often than not, there isn’t one. Don’t make that mistake.
Some bloggers use an ecommerce provider like Shopify to sell both digital and physical goods. Others set up a simple payment gateway with PayPal buttons. Another option is to set up an Amazon Influencer Storefront, which makes it easy to compile a list of products you use and recommend to your readers.
Products & Services Page Example: Sunshine Seeker
Sunshine Seeker is a travel blogger who takes beautiful pictures. Many people ask her what filters she uses, so she decided to create her own Lightroom Presets, so her readers can recreate the look and feel of her photos. Selling digital products keeps her overhead very low, and she doesn’t have to source physical materials.
3. Resource Library Page
A resource library is a list of tools, templates, and services that help your reader. Often, to access this library as a reader, you must provide your name and email address. The blogger will then provide a password to unlock access. This incentivizes readers to join your list and gives you an opportunity to market to your list later on. Some bloggers regularly change the password, so you must stay subscribed to the list to maintain access to the library.
Many times bloggers include a combination of resources—freebies they create, as well as affiliate links to products or demos the reader might enjoy. The latter will provide an opportunity for the blogger to earn money from any referred sales as is an integral part of any blogging content strategy. This is because you can link to your resource library in just about any blog post you write.
For example, let’s say you write a blog post about creating a custom pallet planter. At the bottom of that blog post, you can link to your resource library which includes all of the tools a beginner needs for their new woodworking hobby.
Example of a Resource Library: Manifestation Babe
Manifestation Babe has a resource library full of resources she created. These include worksheets, guided meditations, e-books, video training, and downloadable graphics. On her opt-in page (where the reader provides their name and email address to get the password), she tells people exactly what they’ll get and achieve by utilizing these resources.
4. Contact Page
The purpose of a contact page is to allow your readers to submit questions or provide feedback on your blog. When I used to write about my health and fitness journey, I’d receive 10-15 emails per day from readers who thanked me for inspiring them. Some even came back years later to proclaim that I helped save their life after following my advice and having their own weight loss transformation. If that isn’t an incentive to continue blogging, I don’t know what is.
Sure, you might get some hate mail in there too. However, after blogging since 2006, I have only ever received one single email from a newsletter subscriber who pointed out that the way I worded something was harmful. I was very appreciative of the reader pointing this out to me and corrected it immediately. I could have ignored it and considered it hate mail, but instead—I used it as an opportunity to grow.
A contact page isn’t just for readers, though. It also serves as a way for brands to ask to collaborate with you. Several times per day, I receive emails from companies of all sizes who want to work together. This wouldn’t happen if I didn’t provide a way for them to get in touch with me. Unsure about how to respond when a brand asks to collaborate? Read my article on how to make money through sponsored posts.
Example of a Contact Page: The Blonde Abroad
The reason I love The Blonde Abroad’s contact page is that it’s not only visually appealing but it’s smart. Notice how her contact page is a form rather than just a few paragraphs with her email address to send inquiries to? This helps cut down on spam emails. Plus, she has an FAQ that answers the most common questions she receives from readers.
Your blog pages should include helpful resources, a way to contact you, legal disclosures, and the products and services you sell. Each of these website pages is important, and some are even a legal requirement, thanks to the FTC. You can use a service like Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer to help flesh out your state’s legal requirements.