The Influenc

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the influenc

her

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TOP 5 LEGAL MUSTS WHEN RUNNING AN ONLINE BUSINESS 


By: Christy Westerfeld
Owner of Christy Westerfeld

Most online business owners do not have the right legal documents in place to ensure they are legally legally protected.

*SHUDDER*

Why not? In my experience, it’s either something people just aren’t aware of, OR something people kiiiind of know about but brush under the rug. Those who fall into this second category typically are aware there is a need for legal, but have decided it’s not a huge deal, either because they think they cannot afford to do it properly, they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, or think it’s boring and doesn’t lead to additional clients, so it’s not a top priority.

*BIGGER SHUDDER*

If you’re reading this and thinking “oh Sh*%. This is me” then settle in and pay attention because I GOT YOU COVERED GIRL!

The name of the game here is PREVENTION and PROTECTION. You want to get your business set up properly, and get the right legal documents in place so you can confidently grow, scale, and influence the masses, knowing you are covered.

Here are the Top 5 Legal Musts When Running an Online Business:

#1: GET A PRIVACY POLICY ON YOUR WEBSITE

If you have a live, published website that allows visitors to enter any personal information (e.g. subscribing to your blog/ newsletter, opting in to receive a freebie, contacting you), you need a Privacy Policy on your website. This is legally required to be on your website, and is where you will tell your website visitors what information you’re collecting, how you’re protecting it, how they can unsubscribe or edit their information, and other similar disclosures. Because this document must be very specific to comply with online privacy laws, I don’t recommend trying to draft it yourself – the penalties for not having this on your website can be huge, and it’s not worth cutting a corner to save a couple bucks.


It’s a good idea to also have a Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions on your website. The Disclaimer is the document you will use to remind your readers/website visitors that all information contained on your website is meant as general information and education only, and not meant to be personalized advice.
Similarly, your Website Terms & Conditions are where you will protect your content, advise people of the rules surrounding your website, and identify how any disputes will be resolved. Without it, your website becomes sort of a “wild west” in terms of boundaries and that adds unnecessary stress (not to mention legal bills!) to your life. 

#2 INCLUDE A DISCLAIMER AND TERMS & CONDITIONS ON YOUR WEBSITE

#5 MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHTS TO USE ANY PHOTO OR TESTIMONIAL BEFORE YOU USE IT

A golden rule of online business is to always make sure you have the rights to use any photo or content before posting it. Many people have gotten themselves into trouble for adding images into their blog posts or content, only to be greeted later by a strongly worded letter advising them they have committed copyright infringement and owe a pretty hefty fine! To prevent this, always ask yourself who a photo belongs to, before using it on your website. If the photo is one you took, or is from a reputable stock photo gallery, you should be in the clear. If you found the image online and can’t trace it back to a source…I’d skip using the image altogether.
Additionally, if you have testimonials from current or past clients on your website, it’s also a good idea to have them sign a release, confirming they are giving you the rights to use their testimonial, photograph, and any other information of theirs on your website, in advertisements, and however else you may decide to use the testimonial. 


Written By:
Christy Westerfeld Owner of Christy Westerfeld

#3 HAVE A PERSONALIZED CLIENT AGREEMENT

If you provide a service to clients, having a Client Agreement is extremely important! Many business owners have something in place; however, the problem is a lot of these agreements are either (1) drafted by non-attorneys and likely don’t contain everything that needs to be in it, or (2) are agreements copied or taken from others without permission (which can be copyright infringement!). Plus, if you’re using an agreement or template that doesn’t fit what your needs are, it likely won’t include everything you need, which could be just as bad as not using one at all!
Make sure you get the right agreement in place, drafted by someone who knows your business, and that you have a separate agreement for each package or product you sell. 

#4 USE THE RIGHT DOCUMENT FOR ONLINE COURSES OR DIGITAL SALES (TERMS OF USE)

If you’re selling an online course or a product directly from your website, you likely aren’t going to send an agreement to each customer for a signature. However, it’s still just as important to have an agreement in place with these customers! So, what do you do? You input a document called “Terms of Use” on your checkout page, and require all customers to agree to it by checking a box before they can complete purchase. If you’ve done any type of online shopping, you were likely required to take this same action before you could click “submit” and complete your purchase. Make sure this is in place before you start selling! 

...ARE YOU STILL WITH ME?

If you’re an online business owner and you don’t have these things in place yet – don’t panic! There are a few steps you can take. You can hire an attorney in your state who is familiar with this type of law, and have them draft these documents for you and your business. If you don’t quite have the budget for that, or don’t want to deal with hiring an attorney just yet, another great option is to purchase templates online, IF they were drafted by an attorney who knows this industry and coaching/consulting space. If the templates are from a CRM or software service, or were drafted by an attorney who doesn’t know this area of law, I wouldn’t recommend going that route. Luckily for you, you’re in luck! I offer all of these documents in template form, complete with step-by-step instructions on how to complete and personalize for your business! *praise hands*! I would LOVE to chat with each and every one of you about legal (yes, I’m THAT nerdy) and how I can help you protect your biz! www.christywesterfeld.com 

 Top 5 Legal MUSTS When Running an Online Business


By: Christy Westerfeld
Owner of Christy Westerfeld

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Most online business owners do not have the right legal documents in place to ensure they are legally legally protected.

*SHUDDER*

Why not? In my experience, it’s either something people just aren’t aware of, OR something people kiiiind of know about but brush under the rug. Those who fall into this second category typically are aware there is a need for legal, but have decided it’s not a huge deal, either because they think they cannot afford to do it properly, they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, or think it’s boring and doesn’t lead to additional clients, so it’s not a top priority.

*BIGGER SHUDDER*

If you’re reading this and thinking “oh Sh*%. This is me” then settle in and pay attention because I GOT YOU COVERED GIRL!

The name of the game here is PREVENTION and PROTECTION. You want to get your business set up properly, and get the right legal documents in place so you can confidently grow, scale, and influence the masses, knowing you are covered.

Here are the Top 5 Legal Musts When Running an Online Business:


If you have a live, published website that allows visitors to enter any personal information (e.g. subscribing to your blog/ newsletter, opting in to receive a freebie, contacting you), you need a Privacy Policy on your website. This is legally required to be on your website, and is where you will tell your website visitors what information you’re collecting, how you’re protecting it, how they can unsubscribe or edit their information, and other similar disclosures. Because this document must be very specific to comply with online privacy laws, I don’t recommend trying to draft it yourself – the penalties for not having this on your website can be huge, and it’s not worth cutting a corner to save a couple bucks.

#1: Get a Privacy Policy on your Website 

#2 Include a Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions on your Website

It’s a good idea to also have a Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions on your website. The Disclaimer is the document you will use to remind your readers/website visitors that all information contained on your website is meant as general information and education only, and not meant to be personalized advice.
Similarly, your Website Terms & Conditions are where you will protect your content, advise people of the rules surrounding your website, and identify how any disputes will be resolved. Without it, your website becomes sort of a “wild west” in terms of boundaries and that adds unnecessary stress (not to mention legal bills!) to your life.

INTRODUCTION

If you provide a service to clients, having a Client Agreement is extremely important! Many business owners have something in place; however, the problem is a lot of these agreements are either (1) drafted by non-attorneys and likely don’t contain everything that needs to be in it, or (2) are agreements copied or taken from others without permission (which can be copyright infringement!). Plus, if you’re using an agreement or template that doesn’t fit what your needs are, it likely won’t include everything you need, which could be just as bad as not using one at all!
Make sure you get the right agreement in place, drafted by someone who knows your business, and that you have a separate agreement for each package or product you sell.

A golden rule of online business is to always make sure you have the rights to use any photo or content before posting it. Many people have gotten themselves into trouble for adding images into their blog posts or content, only to be greeted later by a strongly worded letter advising them they have committed copyright infringement and owe a pretty hefty fine! To prevent this, always ask yourself who a photo belongs to, before using it on your website. If the photo is one you took, or is from a reputable stock photo gallery, you should be in the clear. If you found the image online and can’t trace it back to a source…I’d skip using the image altogether.
Additionally, if you have testimonials from current or past clients on your website, it’s also a good idea to have them sign a release, confirming they are giving you the rights to use their testimonial, photograph, and any other information of theirs on your website, in advertisements, and however else you may decide to use the testimonial.

#3 Have a Personalized Client Agreement  

#4 Use the Right Document for Online Courses or Digital Sales (Terms of Use)

If you’re selling an online course or a product directly from your website, you likely aren’t going to send an agreement to each customer for a signature. However, it’s still just as important to have an agreement in place with these customers! So, what do you do? You input a document called “Terms of Use” on your checkout page, and require all customers to agree to it by checking a box before they can complete purchase. If you’ve done any type of online shopping, you were likely required to take this same action before you could click “submit” and complete your purchase. Make sure this is in place before you start selling!

#5 Make sure you have the rights to use any photo or testimonial BEFORE you use it

Written By:
Christy Westerfeld
Owner of Christy Westerfeld

...Are you still with me?

If you’re an online business owner and you don’t have these things in place yet – don’t panic! There are a few steps you can take. You can hire an attorney in your state who is familiar with this type of law, and have them draft these documents for you and your business. If you don’t quite have the budget for that, or don’t want to deal with hiring an attorney just yet, another great option is to purchase templates online, IF they were drafted by an attorney who knows this industry and coaching/consulting space. If the templates are from a CRM or software service, or were drafted by an attorney who doesn’t know this area of law, I wouldn’t recommend going that route. Luckily for you, you’re in luck! I offer all of these documents in template form, complete with step-by-step instructions on how to complete and personalize for your business! *praise hands*! I would LOVE to chat with each and every one of you about legal (yes, I’m THAT nerdy) and how I can help you protect your biz! www.christywesterfeld.com

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