15 – What Should My Website Terms Include?

If you are running a business with a website you need to be outlining specifically the terms of use for your site – to protect you and inform your visitors. Rachel breaks it down all here for you! https://rachelbrenke.com/epi15

One of my missions here at The Business Bites Podcast is to make sure that you guys are legally protected. Obviously, as a lawyer and an MBA, I have this little carved out love for the legal side. I get that it’s totally not sexy. It’s not something you guys necessarily want to have to deal with, but from a business perspective and from a standpoint of being a mother with multiple brands, I’d rather be focused on my life and my kids and not having to be wrapped up with client issues, customer issues or any other legalities that may come our way.

 

One of the things that I think will help any of you no matter what industry you’re in is making sure that you have proper terms on your site. Now, they’re going to vary depending on what industry you’re in or what you’re offering, but I wanted to give you guys some basic things that you should be including in the terms of your site. Inevitably, if many of you are visiting me obviously in some technology format, whether you’re listening on iTunes or from my site, rachelbrenke.com, you know that I have a website, and you know that you probably have a website. If you have a website, you need to be having these terms. If you don’t have have a website in this day and age and you’re only relying on social media, that’s an entire different podcast but we need to have a chitchat.

 

Without further ado, let’s just go over some of the inclusions of what you guys should have in the terms of your site. It’s important to have these because it’s a legal agreement that’s between the user of the site and you, your business, your blog, your online store, whatever it is and it governs the use of any products or use of the site by the user that comes to it. It can include just one site, related domains or subdomains that you have as well, but all of them need to have these terms reflected. Again, I always give the legal disclaimer in all my episodes that this is only educational information for you guys. The goal is to take the information and to be able to have a lawyer draft for you, especially since I know a lot of lawyers don’t necessarily work with online commerce or online business. It’s good to walk in with a checklist just in case and for you guys to be able to get this lawyer drafted because it is a legal agreement between the user of the site or the purchaser of your products and you.

 

Essentially, it’s going to outline all of the terms of what can, cannot be done, any disclaimers you need to include so let’s just jump right into those. I like to include in my terms at the very beginning after we go through all of like, “This is a legal agreement, blah blah blah,” defining each things such as products, sites, et cetera, I like to start by saying that by purchasing the product or using my site, they agree to be bound by the terms without any other conditions or declarations. I have in bold that if anytime they do not agree with those terms, then they need to discontinue to use the products or leave my site. That puts on there a safeguard for me because their position may change, but I also need to carve out another one to say that anytime the terms could change and I could change them as well.

 

I like to start out after we get through all of that legalness right there what I do, what exactly the site is for. I’m trying to be very clear right there because if someone visits the site and they see the about page or they’re just seeing some social media post, they may not necessarily have a full view of what you do. I like to start off with a summary of what exactly I do and/or what the site provides. I like to list through that. This is also for me as a lawyer. I like to put my disclaimer there for that I am not a substitute for an attorney or a law firm because my sites are general legal information, and we have to take it over a step to actually become a client-attorney relationship. I have to ethically, legally and I like to state that people know that I’m not exactly their lawyer simply because they visit.

 

If you are a fitness professional, this would probably be a good time for you to include any disclaimers about any of, perhaps, the exercises that you put out. If you’re a nutritionist or a food blogger, maybe about the content of the food or the recipes. This will be a good time to start introducing the viewer or user of your site to those sorts of disclaimers. We’re going to get into them a little bit more, but this is a good section for you guys to introduce them to that.

 

Then I like to go into talking about the privacy policy. This essentially is what are you going to do with the information that the user submit to your site. What are you actually going to do with it? You always see on people’s newsletter grabs, they say, “No spam.” I like to put no spam and just good content because it’s true. I don’t spam you guys with other people’s stuff. It’s only trusted materials and resources that I recommend. It’s still not spamming. I like to give content with mine. My privacy policy outlines all of this and states what I’m going to do with the information that I collect and identifying that the information being provided is voluntarily provided. That it requires my user to submit their information. That I’m not just collecting it as well.

 

I also like to identify if I’m using any affiliate or referral links. This is if you’re on the Amazon Affiliate program or you’re referring them … Say you’re a photographer and you’re referring them to [ShootProof 00:05:36], which is an online gallery service. You can get a referral link that gives you a month of free service if a studio signs up that you refer. That’s an affiliate link. I like to identify them here as well. That there may be affiliate links on the sites and exactly what I do with them. There’s a disclaimer as well that I don’t assume responsibility for endorsing any of the contents, products, services or use of any of the affiliate sites. That’s the CYA. That way, it’s also included here. I’m going to identify affiliate links because it’s legally required elsewhere as well. I like to include it there.

 

I also like to identify the intellectual property that I own. That’s the text, logo, images, headers, trademarks, service marks, design elements and everything. While I may not necessarily have to put all this on notice and hope if I ever have someone that does come along and tries to copy or infringe upon my trademarks, my copyrighted material and so forth and it goes through … This is basically a little synopsis explaining to people that they can … I am protected by this. Since I do sell products on my site such as contract template forms and so forth, I am also giving a license of use whenever someone purchase those products. Not only do I own the copyrighted materials and so forth, but I’m identifying first that I own it. Then that I state that as long as the user complies with the terms of use and purchase, I’m granting them a nonexclusive, nontransferable license to download, view, copy and print the products because obviously you guys need to be able to utilize that for your business. If you’re purchasing a contract, you need to be able to utilize that.

 

I go through all of that. Then also go through how they should be able to contact me, any return or refund, policy. Unlike for me, all my sales are final. I like to put on there that they’re nonreturnable, nonrefundable under any circumstances. I still carve out the right to make any exceptions. My disclaimer of warranty is I identify that all my products are provided as is. Then this is where we get into more of the legal, miscellany, limitation and liability and identification. Also, since this is a legal agreement between myself and the user, I want to identify who the governing law and the venues are so that if they ever have a claim, that’s where we are going to be having any issue, that’s what laws are going to govern and that’s the venue that we’re going to be. Then, of course, at the end, I concluded by saying, “Any questions regarding about terms, may be directed to,” and give them the contact information. There’s also the contact form on my site as well.

 

Now, it is important to note that this is not all inclusive depending on the industry, or product, or service that you’re selling. You may have extra things included. I just wanted to give you a nice little high level overview and explanation of some of the key requirements that I feel you guys should have in your terms of service or terms of purchase. If you guys have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to me. I do have a terms of service in the shop at rachelbrenke.com/shop. Thank you for listening in on today’s episode of The Business Bites.