NOTE: I am NOT a lawyer. If you own a business or are selling products or services, I suggest you check with a lawyer in your city to find out what you should have and what is required. Also I do not claim to be an expert. If you see that something I say here is wrong, please correct me. Thanks.
Terms of Service
Disclosure means making it clear when there is a possible monetary interest in something you blog about. In the US, bloggers are required to follow the FTC Guidelines for disclosure. I suggest you read the full documents but basically it means if you are paid money to do a post or are paid in product or services or a free trip, you need to disclose that fact so readers know. Many bloggers who don’t live in the US also use disclosure policies because they feel it is right to be up front about any monetary relationships. Some bloggers disagree. If you are not bound by the FTC laws, do what feels right for you. If you NEVER accept payment or free materials from a company on your blog, you do not need a disclosure policy. If that changes though, you will need one.
You can generate your own policy at Disclosure Policy. Please note FTC guidelines (plus this one) state that one site wide disclosure is NOT enough. You will need to follow their rules about how to disclose in your blog posts and social media accounts although it may be wise to have a site wide disclosure policy as well that explains more in detail. For more help with the FTC Guidelines see Social Media Explorer.
A comment policy is giving potential commenters information on what is acceptable and what is not while commenting on your site. I don’t think every blog needs one, especially if you aren’t getting that many comments. However sites with a large and engaged following or anyone who posts controversial content may want one. The Blog Herald has the best post that explains more about comment policies and how to create one. If you do create one, I suggest linking to it above the comment box.
This only applies to those blogs who might be hosting reviews on their site. When you start getting lots of offers in your email you may find that you are repeating yourself a lot on what you will accept for review and what your guidelines are for reviewing products. For example many bloggers have minimum values. They won’t accept a review unless they receive at least $25 (for example) in product. This is to make it worth all the work a review takes. A review policy might mention the types of products they are interested in, that they have to be able available for sale in the country they live in and that the items will NOT be returned. It might mention that the blogger is not responsible for shipping fees and if a product comes C.O.D. it will be returned.
Book Bloggers International has a post about writing a review policy although it sort of mixes a disclosure policy with it. On my blog Callista’s Ramblings I don’t have a separate Review Policy but do have a Review Section on my Work With Me page.
Whereas a Review Policy is more for the companies you work with, a Giveaway policy would be more for your readers. If you want to include information for brands on what you are willing to do with regards to giveaways, include it in your review policy or on your work with me page.
A giveaway policy is more about how giveaways are run on your site. It’s a F.A.Q. for readers who may be newish to entering online giveaways. You may want to include whether each giveaway will say what countries it’s open to or whether they are open to one country unless otherwise specified. You might include that only one person per household may enter or one entry per person per day. You might state that you are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prizes.
Examples of Giveaway Policies:
- RR@H Novel Thoughts and Book Talk
- Respiring Thoughts
- All Things Urban Fantasy (combines giveaway policy for brands and entrants)
- Tales of a Ranting Ginger
Your Mini Challenge
- Now that you know the differences, decide which ones your blog needs. Create or Revise AT LEAST ONE policy for your blog to complete this challenge. Comment below telling me what policy you created or revised and share a link to it on your blog.