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A place where busy entrepreneurs find quick & valuable education.
You may have considered offering gift certificates through your website. Or maybe you already do. In the past few years, gift cards and certificates have been the subject of federal and state legislation to protect consumers from overly restrictive and abusive gift card practices. We want you to know the federal legal requirements for issuing and using gift cards and gift certificates and where to look for your state’s specific requirements. In 2010, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the CARD Act) went into effect. The CARD Act sets forth the bare minimum of rules governing all gift cards in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission governs the use of gift cards at the federal level. The states are free to create even stricter rules. Gift cards come in two forms: 1) retail gift cards or certificates, which can be used only at the specified...
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How to automate your business & save your soul
As if life isn’t busy enough, being an entrepreneur creates 101 more jobs to your plate. I quickly found out that I didn’t have enough arms, legs, and toes to complete each project myself. Listen, when you have a glass of wine in one hand, a cat in the other and … well … you get it … there’s nothing left. After contemplating my success and longevity in this big business world, I looked to how I could efficiently do the tasks needed to be a six figure company without physically doing them. Genius … right?! Ever wonder how you can be in more than one place at the same time?  Do you find it hard to run a business when there are other things happening around you such as family, children and even full time jobs? Of course you do! The solution? Simple. Automation! Best thing I ever did...
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Accounting methods for bloggers
So your blog is making you money? Congratulations! Now that you are seeing some income, it’s important to figure out what method of accounting you are going to use. There are two main accounting methods: 1) cash and 2) accrual. Basically, the methods differ in when they record sales or purchases to your accounts. This post will explain the generalities of both methods, and the pros and cons of each. An accounting professional will help you decide which is the best method to use for your business.   The Cash Method of Accounting The most commonly used method of accounting by small businesses is the cash method, and it’s pretty straightforward. In the cash method, income is recorded when it is actually received, and expenses are recorded when they are actually paid. For example, if your business is a service-based one, you may not be paid for your services until...
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25 Must read books for bloggers who want to succeed (and WHY!)
Being in business can be…well…busy. Between the whole content-creation, administrative-doing-tasks, paying-your-taxes, marketing-for-sales, executing-awesome-customer-service, and everything-else-oh-my-goodness-that-I-need-to-do-today, you can get swept away. So busy that you forget to take time for education. One of the best ways to receive education is by seeking out good, quality, and to-the-point resources such as books or audiobooks. By setting aside a certain amount of hours a week for diving into these low-cost and highly-effective educational resources can catapult your success in business. This list, with the accompanying links, also provides quick tidbits on what I took away from each.   Influence by Robert Cialdini  Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Psychological strategies for maximizing sales and customer services.   Launch by Jeff Walker  Jeff teaches the methodology and process for developing a launch sequence for a product, service, or educational course. This...
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How being legal can make your blog more money
Your blog is rocking, your audience is responsive, and you are motivated to make more money! Cause come on – who isn’t? There may be one piece of the puzzle that you’re missing, and I’m going to let you know this secret. Being legal can make your blog and business more money. True story, I’m going to run down the reasons why this is true. If in the end you don’t believe me – just email me and we can chat. I’m not just saying all this because I’m a lawyer. I’m telling you all this because I’ve seen it first hand as a blogger! I just happen to know how to be legal and want to share this with you – hence this site! So let’s see how being legal can make you more money through increasing buyer confidence, avoiding issues, and giving you the confidence needed to take...
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How to run an online giveaway on your blog (legally!)
You’ve probably seen this before: your favorite mommy blogger is giving away the hot new car seat using Rafflecopter, and the comments are splattered with Canadians grousing about how they can’t ever enter these giveaways. Or this: your favorite big box store is holding a contest offering an all-expenses paid trip to the beach if you pin a photo of your family at the beach on a special Pinterest board, but New York residents are excluded from entering. Online giveaways – legally known as sweepstakes – are more popular than ever, but they are still subject to federal and state laws. No matter what they’re called – contests, giveaways, or sweepstakes – these online promotions actually have legal names and descriptions.   Types of Giveaways And it’s important to know what your particular giveaway is called legally, so you can be sure to keep it compliant with the law.  ...
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5 Blogging contracts you need to protect your blog!
It is scary how many people believe “online businesses” (like bloggers) are exempt from legalities. No way, Jose! In fact, due to the massive amounts of commerce that is engaged in online, bloggers need to be even more mindful of the legalities and accompanying documents needed to protect their business. Here’s a quick rundown of five legal documents bloggers need to protect their blog!   #1 and #2 Website Bundle This bundle includes both a Privacy Policy Template and a Terms of Use template. The Terms of Use/Service template is to be used by any business owner having an online website.  This policy is a legal document on the terms and conditions of your site and products. This is SUPER important to have if running any business online ESPECIALLY if you are an online only business with a shop, etc.     It addresses topics such as: Who you are What you...
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Getting results from social media - Q&A with Prerna Malik
Social Media is a must have in business. That is why we’re gonna take a quick departure from legal mumbo jumbo to highlight this important aspect to business. Prerna Malik, the brains behind Social Media Biz Direct (now Content Bistro), graciously gave us a few minutes of her time to talk a bit about creating content strategy.  Her company, SMBD,  focuses on social media and online brand building to facilitate engagement, build community, and get results. We hit her with some of these questions: What is the biggest mistake you’ve seen small business owners make repeatedly in terms of their online presence? Which do people go to more- website or blog? What about a set schedule for social media? How to maintain real-ness in your online presence? How savvy does one have to be? What is ONE thing you can do immediately to improve online health? With her expertise and these...
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If you advertise, sell, provide, or offer products or services through your blog, you want to read this.  It is all too easy for a blogger to think they are just cleverly advertising their products, without any real intent to deceive consumers, but still potentially violate state or federal consumer protection laws. The two governing bodies that oversee your blog’s compliance with business practices are the Federal Trade Commission and your state’s consumer protection agency. The Federal Trade Commission, known as the FTC, has a specific mandate to protect consumers from fraud and deceptive and unfair business practices, discussed in more detail below. State laws are commonly titled as consumer protection or deceptive trade practices acts and are usually enforced by state attorneys general. This post mainly focuses on sales and advertisements, but the consumer protection laws are broad and cover many other types of business practices, so it is...
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Ahh, taxes. Ben Franklin famously said nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. And fear not, digital goods purveyor, the taxman is a-coming.  The uncertainty, though, is what for? Taxes on digital goods are set by each state, just like any other sales tax. Traditionally, businesses are not required to charge sales tax on goods sold in states where they did not have a physical presence. But with the proliferation of the online marketplace, and the creation of non-tangible, digital goods that you can sell online to anyone, anywhere – things like digital audio files, video files or images, or electronic books – sales tax becomes a more complicated issue. As it stands, if the seller is located in one state, the buyer in another, and the server for the seller’s business in a third, theoretically all three states could lay claim to the sales tax from a...
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Mark your territory! How to trademark your blog
Has your blog taken off faster than you expected? Do you have a unique brand you would like to protect? It is not enough to simply rely on your domain name. You may need to trademark your blog to protect your logo and any goods and services you provide that use your logo.   What is a trademark? A trademark will protect your brand from use by others in your specific business area. For example, a trademark will protect your logo in the blog community from use by another blogger. If someone else online began to use your logo to sell goods online, you, as the trademark holder, would be able to legally stop them. You can trademark a phrase, a specific logo, or even a sound. Let’s say you knit hats for your cat, Herman. Your friends keep asking you to knit hats for their cats too, and sensing...
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Now Available: Speaker Contract Template
This speaker contract is for between the host of an event, such as a workshop or conference, and the speaker being hired to perform services at the event. Provisions include: services compensation performance travel and lodging promotion speaker conduct cancellation relationship identification confidentiality indemnification and more!     Snag yours here  
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How to quickly set-up and sell online courses
One of the hardest parts of selling online courses is NOT the creation content, the marketing, or even the ideas. Heck, as entrepreneurs we don’t lack for ideas. Many times it is wading through all of the many options out there.  Here is a quick “how-to” for setting up an online course quickly and getting that money in your pocket.  Each step has recommendations for various budgets and skill sets.   My personal set up: Ontraport Pilot Press Plugin that takes Paypal + Credit Card Payments (processed as credit cards through Paypal Pro) and allows for payment plans.  The Ontraport system allows for dripped content and follow ups to students based on clicks.  I have Q&A forms embedded with the Gravity Forms and can respond to homework that way!   #1 Membership access An important aspect is ensuring that all your hard-earned content is protected by a password protected barrier....
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The Blogger's Quick Guide to Affiliate Disclosure Requirements
The Federal Trade Commission requires that all affiliate links are disclosed on your blog – but it can get so confusing to figure out how to exactly do this. Here is a quick guide for blogger’s to see how to comply with affiliate disclosure requirements and keep your blog out of hot legal water!   When do I need a disclosure? Any time you’re taking compensation, whether money, product or otherwise, for mention of a product/service in a blog post (may or may not include an affiliate or link back).   Disclosure Compliance Requirements Disclosures have four basic requirements that are really easy and quick to follow: Frequency Clarity Conspicuous placement No additional reader action     Frequency The disclosure must be on every page that includes a review, sponsored post, recommendation, comment or link that promotes a service and/or product for which you are receiving compensation. The most commonly...
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Top 5 reasons your blog will fail
“I have to make this work for my family.” “Having a blog is fun; I love the benefits and interaction with community.” “I want to blog from home to be with my kids and make money too!” “Blogging is a means to an end for my <insert type> of business” No matter what you reason for blogging, you can’t escape the fact that blogging is a necessity for reaching online audiences.  In order for this to happen though you have to understand the top reasons why your blog will fail. But why do we want to focus on failure? Oh we aren’t focusing on it. We are highlighting the aspects of potential actions that will cause your blog failure in order to make a plan to avoid failure and grow successfully. So I’m only saying your blog WILL fail if you ignore these. But if you don’t, you have a...
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Should I hire a CPA or a Lawyer for my blogging business?
Setting up your blogging business the right way (See: Checklist here) can be quite overwhelming.  Many times you have no idea who to turn to for specific questions and ask “Should I hire a CPA or a Lawyer for my Blogging Business?” So glad you asked! Today we’re going to go over the specific situations and give some tips that you need to know for when, how and why to hire one of these professionals for specific situations.   CPA and Lawyers Defined CPAs are Certified Public Accountants that work with a range of financial matters.  These can be individuals, firms or institutions that provide these services.  Typically, you’ll hire a CPA for help with preparing your taxes and financial planning for your Blogging business.  These individuals offer way more benefits than merely inputting of financial reports, as they are licensed and educated to provide strategy advice and advisement for matters...
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Getting tasks done with The Laundry List
This article is an excerpt of The Laundry List by Rachel Brenke.   This chapter would seriously be the easiest one to explain if I could just say, “OUTSOURCE!” But alas, not all of us can afford to outsource, or may not even want to for certain aspects of the business. There are even some tasks we simply cannot push off on an intern or hired help. So to combat being buried under cumbersome tasks, we must institute measures to get tasks done. These include setting hours, calendar scheduling, to-do lists, automation, wrap ups/reviews, and figuring out how to balance household obligations amongst it all.   SETTING A SCHEDULE OR NOT The first most important piece of advice I can give you is to make set hours. The very next advice is to throw it out the window…for the most part. This section should probably be more appropriately titled “Not...
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Owning a blog comes with it a host of legal implications, especially when monetizing through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, or merely linking to commercial sites.  We have dissected the legal anatomy of a blog for you to use as a checklist to make sure you’re blogging legally. This can also apply to websites that may not have a blog, as these legal tools exist for all online activity.   Terms The words terms of service, terms of use, terms and conditions  (with abbreviations of TOS, TOU, Terms) are the rules that the user of the site must agree to abide by in order to use the site. The terms should contain sections such as: definition of key words definition of phrases the user’s rights to the site the user’s responsibilities while using the site a privacy policy (discussed below) a cookie policy other applicable provisions as required by law other applicable...
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So you have an awesome audience. But you want to make some money out of your blog? Here are the top ways to monetize your blog – you can use all, one, or a combination.  Find what suits you, your audience, and your business model.   #1 Have an opt-in With the way social media is going, we can’t guarantee we can get in front of our audience members all the time, even though they’ve followed or liked our social media accounts.  The best way to do this is to get into their inbox to convert them, whether converting to buy your products/services or to get affiliate links in front of them. Use a freebie as an incentive to get audience members on to your email opt-in list.  Use a program, such as MailChimp, to auto deliver this free product. A freebie can be something simple as a printable, compilation...
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Now available: Model Release for Bloggers
This Model Release for Bloggers allows a photograph subject to easily and legally give permission for use of their photographic images for use on the blog.  Releases blogger of any claims by subject for compensation. These contract forms are not state specific as they are drafted on general contract principles and experience as a photography business owner.  They come in .doc format to readily tailor to your business-specific policies.   Protect your blog here.  
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How to make your speaking engagement a success
You have been asked to speak. Your topic is approved. Business cards and marketing materials are all ordered and on pretty shiny paper. The keynote presentation has awesome animations and information for the attendees.  But how can you make the engagement even more of a success?    Sign a speaker agreement Every time you are hired to do something, whether to guest blog or to speak, paid or not paid, there needs to be a contract in place between you and the host. See: How to Hire a Guest Blogger and Top Contractual Things to Look For When Booking a Speaking Engagement   Explain who you are Always, always, always begin the presentation with an introduction for who you are, what you do, and what you can provide to the audience.  Operate under the assumption the audience has never heard of you or from you before, because in the world of conferences...
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When you are running your own affiliate program, meaning having others be affiliates to promote your site, it is important to have program terms outlined and published for reference.  These terms will set the expectations of all affiliate activity and conduct, as well as reduce the probability of miscommunications. Suggested provisions include: Description of program Enrollment Links on Affiliate Site Program Requirements Responsibility of affiliates Ordering processing Advertising fees Fee payment Policies Identifying self as affiliate Limited license Reservation of rights Term and termination Compliance with laws These terms should be provided at the applicable step of the process and be readily available to affiliates during the duration of their affiliate-ship with your site.  If you are using a structured affiliate program (such as iDev) they provide a section to place the Terms for easy reference in the affiliate’s dashboard.  If you are on a more laid-back structure you may need to...
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The 411 on blog terms of service and privacy policies
Having an online presence is critical to the success of your business, but like most everything else, requires some legal oversight to ensure you’re walking on the right side of the law. We’re going to go over terms of use and privacy policy template structures to either use as a checklist against your current one or to take with you to an attorney to draft new documents.   Terms of Use The terms of use (TOU) for a site govern the relationship between the site user and the site owner.  Having a TOU is a legal requirement according to certain laws, as we will see through the provisions.  Here is an overall list of provisions to include in the site TOU.   Warranties The first, and maybe most important, element of a TOU should advise the site user that there are no express or implied warranties made to any services...
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This lawyer-created, entrepreneur-approved bundle includes a Privacy Policy Template, Terms of Use. This bundle is to help get your website set up and running legally!   Privacy Policy Template This document is a template Privacy Policy to be used by any business owner having an online website.  This policy is a legal document on privacy law that discloses the way you gather data, use and manage data of your website visitors and customers. This is SUPER important to have if running any business online ESPECIALLY if you are an online only business with a shop, etc. It addresses privacy law topics such as: What information is collected ( internet traffic data, cookies) Customer/visitor personal information Testimonials on site Information collection, use and sharing Access to information Security Registration Orders Survey and Contests and more!   Terms of Use This document is a template Terms of Use/Service to be used by any business...
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Why do bloggers need a model release?
There’s so much to think about legally when running a blogging business.  Getting legit, forms needed, disclosures, affiliate programs, etc.  Right of privacy is a big legal issue and should be adhered to and understood as much as possible by business owners, especially those using digital images in their blog usage. It is imperative that bloggers understand how a model release works and why it is needed.   What is a model release? A model release is signed by subject (or in the case of a minor, the parent or legal guardian) giving the photographer or blog owner permission to publish the photograph as defined by the release.  Releases typically include use for marketing purposes, accompanying online blog posts, portfolio, and other commercial uses.  This also releases, if it has the appropriate language, any claims the model may have to future compensation for use of images.   Model release basics Stipulations and restrictions...
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