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hosted by: John Dockins
hosted by: John Dockins

WMS 007: Do you need a privacy policy?

Weekly tips, strategy, and advice for building & leveraging your website to maximize your business.

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Show Notes

Welcome to episode seven of Websites Made Simple podcast where we are covering the Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and the Disclaimer.

In this episode, we are going to cover the basic legal policies you need to protect your website and your business and answer the question “Do you need a privacy policy?” 

If you are like me then you might have just let out a collective “ugh” as this stuff is not sexy. You also probably know you need to take care of these policies but more “important” tasks are taking priority. But please, heed this warning from someone who has seen so many people and websites get into very fast trouble for avoiding this.

OK, first thing first, I am not a lawyer nor have I been trained in the law. However, owning a web agency and working with many clients, I can tell you that more often than not people want to either avoid the legal policies or worse, feel like they can just “copy” aka steal the language from another website.

Don’t do this. It is theft and you can end up in serious legal trouble. This is not how you want to start your business.

Look, I get it as this stuff can seem trivial. You have seen websites that have links in the footer to their Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Disclaimer. 

Seems easy enough right to just borrow that language but I have seen where entrepreneurs have been served a cease and desist order or even emails from larger influencers or entrepreneurs, maybe even someone they look up to and have learned a lot from, informing them that they must take down their version of the legal policies as they have stolen it from them. 

Imagine an entrepreneur you admire sending you an email informing you that they know you stole their version of the legal policies. I imagine it would make you sick to your stomach and embarrassed.

But look, these do not have to be hard or complicated.

You'll Learn

Resources

Terms of Use

Simply put, the Terms of Use provide the “rules of the road” for your website and the basic agreement of what’s allowed and not allowed. But why do you need a Terms of Use for your website?

The ToU is a written agreement between you and your visitors. These are people that will download a freebie, take a quiz, or buy something. 

This is also where you put limits on what visitors can do with your content (lead magnets, etc.) and it is where you define key elements for the sale of simple products.

When visitors do these things, what is the written agreement between you and them? The answer is your Terms of Use.

Moving on to the boilerplate language (aka the standard parts).

First, you need to understand this is the one place where you should incorporate your other policies (disclaimer and privacy policy) so that when visitors accept your Terms of Use, they have in fact agreed to your other policies as well.

Here are the basics of what you need to include:

  • Right to change terms
  • Right to withdraw your website
  • Limit uses to “lawful” uses
  • Reserve your rights in intellectual property
  • No guarantees as to the accuracy of results 
  • Email and electronic communication consent
  • Use of communication services on your site
  • Right to use the information provided to the site
  • Links to 3rd party websites and services
  • No warranties and limited liability clauses
  • Dispute resolution clause
  • Termination and access restrictions

Clauses that could be specific to your business

  • Use of templates and forms – you might want to limit use like members cannot share your content
  • Use of paid products and materials like not sharing login or license information
  • Use of free downloadable content
  • Disclaimer regarding guests
  • Cancellation policy for courses or memberships
  • Money-back guarantee or no refund policy

So how can you make it enforceable?

You do that by creating stand-alone pages on your website. In addition, your policy will say that anyone using the website agrees but this isn’t enough. 

You also need to get people to click and agree to your Terms of Use when they download something. Lastly, you can put links to the Terms of Use in the footer of your website and any outside places like sales funnel software like Lead Pages, Kajabi, etc.

Do You Need a Privacy Policy

The privacy policy is not optional. It is legally required if you collect any information from people online. You might be thinking, “I don’t collect any information.” 

But do you have Google Analytics connected to your site? And you should. If so, then you are collecting information on your website visitors.

You need to understand there are laws in place to enforce this and it can be costly to you and your business if you ignore putting a Privacy Policy in place.

So what goes into your Privacy Policy?

  • Identify and provide contact info for relevant parties like:
    • Your Company
    • GDPR representative (if applicable)
    • Data protection officer (if applicable)
  • Tell visitors what information you collect
    • The info they provide in opt-in, quizzes, buy
    • Information you collect automatically like google analytics
    • Tell them why you are collecting this information
  • Tell them what you are going to do with that information
  • Who will have access to the information
  • Tell them how long you will keep the data
  • Inform visitors of their GDPR rights

Follow the same guidelines on where you should place your Privacy Policy as you did above with the Terms of Use.

Disclaimer

You should really love your Disclaimer because it is all about limiting your legal liability. In other words, it helps to prevent you from being sued.

Your Disclaimer should include:

  • Education “not advice”
    • It needs to state that you are providing education and information and not advice
    • This is especially important for professionals and people in areas of legal, finance, tax, health, etc.
    • Use at least a generic clause
  • Disclose your financial incentives
    • Make clear to visitors if you have a financial interest in a product you are promoting or
    • Ownership of company or product you are promoting
  • Results are not typical 
    • Like all those info commercials, you need to do this too
    • Results will vary and depend on circumstances outside your control
    • You are not making any guarantees

Boilerplate language should include clauses that absolve you of responsibility or legal liability:

  • No warranties clause
  • Limitation of liability clause
  • Errors and omissions clause
  • Personal responsibility clause

Like Terms of Use and your Privacy Policy, include the Disclaimer in the footer of your website.

How To Get Protected

Ok, so you should now have a good understanding of the three must-have policies you need to protect your website and your business: Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Disclaimer. 

You now also know why you need them, what they should contain, and where to put them on your site.

Do you want a free Privacy Policy created by a Harvard Lawyer? 

So who is this Harvard Lawyer? His name is Bobby Klinck and he is in the business of helping entrepreneurs like us legally protect our dreams. 

He understands creatives like you and me who are all about online products and services like courses, membership sites, and free content through downloads.

I don’t want you to end up as another one of those horror stories that I have seen before.

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I am a proud affiliate of some of these tools. That means if you click the links and then make a purchase of those products, I will earn a small commission. Affiliate links absolutely do not cost you anything additional. In fact, in some cases these links provide additional benefits, discounts, or add-ons. All of the affiliate links are clearly marked for your benefit. Please know that I recommend these products and chose to be an affiliate because I truly  believe in them, use them, and know they work.

NEXT EPISODE

WMS 003: June WordPress Security Vulnerabilities

About the Show

Created for the non-techie entrepreneur, John Dockins reveals all of his website and online business strategies, income sources and killer marketing tips so that you can be ahead of the pack with your website and online business. 

Self proclaimed “coffee addict”, you’ll learn how to build authority online using content management systems like WordPress, email marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, and much more so that you can create something amazing without burning yourself out. 

about john dockins

YOUR HOST

John Dockins

Websites Made Simple Podcast

John is a family man who also owns his own web design agency and has won several design awards for his work.

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