There’s a lot more to blogging than just writing a few words in a post and hitting publish. When you get into blogging and realise the opportunities it can bring you, things get a bit serious.
It’s hard to believe that the things you do online could land you in court or with a fine, that’s why it’s so important to educate yourself. Most people land themselves in trouble because they’re ignorant around the laws and guidelines that surround blogging.
Here are some things you need to make sure you’re clued up on, whether you’re a new blogger or not.
European Union (EU) laws require you to give EU visitors information about cookies used on your blog. The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires your blog to get consent from your visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet. This is to protect online privacy and to make users aware of how information about them is collected and used online. It also gives them a choice to allow it or not.
If you don’t comply with the Cookie Law, you could face action from enforcement officers and even face a fine.
If you are using Blogger, the cookie alert pop-up will automatically show up to users within the EU.
If you are using WordPress, you will need to download a plugin such as EU Cookie Law.
Making money on your blog:
Before you start making money on your blog, you need to register as self-employed with HMRC.
This is even if you only make £1 and covers both money exchanged for blog posts/advertising/services as well as gifts or vouchers you’ve been given in exchange for a post.
You must register within 3 months from the first point of making money.
You fill in a self-assessment tax return a year behind, so make sure you keep the following information:
- P60 from employer – the form will ask you earnings/tax paid.
- Any income for the tax year.
- Any expenses for the tax year.
Hayley from TeaPartyBeauty has a great spreadsheet you can download to track your income and expenses.
Disclosing sponsored posts.
You have to tell your readers about any incentive for a blog post.
If you are being paid or being given something for free and are being told what to write, then you need to make your readers aware of this before the post.
If you are being paid or given a free item without being told what to write, then you don’t have to disclose under CAP code, but in order to comply with consumer protection legislation, CMA would expect brands and vloggers to tell consumers if an item was given on the condition that it is talked about.
In this case, you would have to still disclose but it doesn’t have to be in the first few words of the post or the title. It can be in the footer.
You can read more detail around this here: How to disclose partnerships.
No follow vs do follow links.
No-follow and do-follow link compliance is Google guideline – not law. Google can remove your website from search if they believe you are not complying with their guideline.
Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.
Basically – if you buy and review something yourself, do-follow is fine. If you are sent something – even if it’s just for consideration of a blog post and you have complete control over the content – you still need to no-follow the link.
You can see more information in this post: Do follow and no follow links.
You cannot right click, save any photo and use it on your website.
Images in Google images are not fair game. They are photos from websites just like mine and yours.
Crediting the original source of the image with a link is not acceptable. You cannot put a disclaimer next to an image taken without consent.
Many people don’t understand this and sadly, many people take advantage of this. There are people out there make money by searching out copyright infringement and land you with a hefty fine. I know bloggers that have had this happen to them – an e-mail out of the blue from a post they wrote 3 years ago.
Unless you are sure you are able to use the images for free (stock sites like Pixabay, for example), then you are better off taking your own.
Read more about it here: Are you legally using photos on your blog?
So there you have it. The legalities behind blogging. If there are any more you think I should add to the list, please leave a comment letting me know!