Note from Raelyn: I don’t usually accept guest posts here, as I like to keep the quality of my posts really high. That being said, when it comes to legal stuff, I thought it was best to get a lawyer into the house 🙂 Today, we have Jackie, an attorney based in Pennsylvania to talk about writing blog disclaimers.
It is important to keep your blog legal. One huge aspect to the legal side of running a blog is having appropriate legal statements on your blog.
These statements are there to protect you as a blogger, but also to let your readers know what your policies are so that they know you are trustworthy.
One of the important statements is the disclaimer statement. Before we get into it, let me share my own quick disclaimer here, being:
Yes, I am an attorney, but I’m not your attorney and this article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and have based the information presented on US laws. This article is legal information and should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.
What is a disclaimer?
First off, let’s discuss what a disclaimer even is.
A blog disclaimer is a legal statement to limit your liability and advise others that you cannot be held liable for information included on your blog.
Your blog disclaimer can be a short statement included in your blog’s footer or sidebar, a longer paragraph included on a separate page of your blog or a paragraph in your blog’s terms and conditions statement.
Of course, a blog disclaimer (or any legal statement for that matter) isn’t a 100% guarantee that someone won’t try to come after you legally due to their reliance on something you posted on your blog.
However, it never hurts to understand what blog disclaimers are and to include them where you can.
Why do you need a blog disclaimer?
A blog disclaimer puts it out there that others should not rely on information on your blog and, if they do, you won’t be held liable for such reliance. Therefore, this statement works as a way to avoid potential liability and it also tells your readers that it’s not your responsibility if they have issues with your site or the information that you present.
The best way to illustrate this is with an example.
A writer of a finance blog writes blog posts about how she invested her money and made a 10% return. She outlines everything she does in order to get this return on her investment and she sounds like an expert. Someone could stumble upon her blog and follow her strategies to a T and think, “Hey this blogger knows what she’s talking about. I’m going to follow her plan and I’m guaranteed to get the same results!”
Of course, this is problematic since the blogger is possibly not a financial expert and she wasn’t intending for anyone to read her posts as financial advice.
Additionally, even if the blogger is a finance expert, she shouldn’t just be giving out blanket financial advice to people whose full situations she doesn’t understand.
Finally, if someone relies on her info and has bad results, such as if they lose all their investment or they even just get results not as great as hers, the blogger could be held liable if that reader wanted to sue her.
Instead, if the blogger had a clear and informative disclaimer in place, it would be apparent to her readers how they should actually use her information and that it shouldn’t be taken as financial advice.
What should your blog disclaimer include?
There is no specific list of things your disclaimer needs to include. Generally, you just want to make it clear that others should not rely on your blog content and if they do, you can’t be held liable.
Additionally, it should be clear that you aren’t making any guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. This reminds your readers that any info found on your website is not a substitute for professional advice.
Here are some basics that you should consider including in your blog disclaimer:
- Nature of your site – Let your readers know the nature of your site. A blog differs from a website. A blog has ever changing content and can include conversations and comments as compared with a website. This might seem obvious, but it’s good to make it clear what type of site you are running.
- Opinionated content – You should remind your readers that your blog contains your opinions and doesn’t reflect the opinions of any organizations you might be affiliated with. This helps to show that if, perhaps you work with a certain company, you aren’t making official statements on behalf of that company.
- Hold harmless clause – This type of clause is where you remind your readers that the info you present on your blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice, such a medical, legal, tax, emotional or other types of advice. You can again reiterate that if your readers rely on any info on your blog, it’s at their own risk.
- Not a professional – Next, indicate that you are not a professional, if that’s the case. Therefore, you’re not a doctor, medical professional, health professional, tax professional, attorney, engineer, etc. Whatever the topic you’re writing about –remind everyone that you are not a professional so your info shouldn’t be seen as professional advice.
- Are a professional, but… – If you are a professional for a topic that you’re writing on, make sure you share that, but remind your readers of what that means. Indicate that, even though you’re a professional, your blog posts are for information purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as financial, health, nutritional, medical, legal, etc advice. Also remind your readers to consult with a professional before taking any sort of action.
- Reservation of rights – In this section, you should indicate that you reserve the right to change how you manage or run your blog and that you may change the focus or content on your blog at any time.
You should also include any info or sections that you think are pertinent and useful to the type of blog you write. If there could be any confusion or issues where someone might rely on your info, definitely make things clear. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, be sure to include your disclaimer where it can be easily found and understood.
I hope you have found this useful and helpful in learning more about blog disclaimers. If you are interested in learning more about the legal side of running your blog, check out my free email course – Legalize Your Blog!
Author Bio: I’ve been blogging at Jade and Oak for over 4 years and have been a licensed attorney for over 6 years. I love sharing the legal side with other bloggers (something that isn’t often talked about) and making it easier and more accessible. When I’m not blogging, I’m working full time at a bank in Pittsburgh, PA, where I live with my husband and our two pugs, Bowie and Rosie.