A detailed overview of the 4 most important legal pages that you need to have on your food blog to protect yourself and your readers.
I know, I know – this isn't the most exciting topic. But believe me, you'd rather be bored for a little bit and protect yourself than end up in any sort of trouble.
Adding disclaimers and privacy pages to your food blog is like adding seasoning to a dish – it's crucial!
They'll help protect you legally by providing transparency to your readers and if there's one thing that you'll see me be consistent about around here it's that it's always better to be transparent.
While I'm providing my own advice about the type of information you should include on the legal pages of your food blog, I would highly recommend working with an actual legal entity that specializes in this area.
Danielle Liss is a well-known and reputable attorney that frequently works with bloggers. You can find many legal document templates for purchase on Businessese, or learn more about her blogger-specific services on LISS Legal.
You sure do, friend! And for quite a few good reasons:
- It legally protects you and your blog
- It's actually required by certain laws and regulations
- It builds trust with your readers and potential brand partners
- It will make your blog look professional, which is always a win!
- Ad networks and affiliates will require that you have it to be a part of their networks
If you'd like to learn more about some of the data privacy laws, here are two of the most prominent and frequently discussed:
- GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) – This applies to sites based in the EU, as well as sites outside the EU that market products/services to or track data of people in the EU. AKA: It applies to you 😉
- CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) – This applies to for-profit businesses that do business in the state of California that meet certain criteria regarding revenue and the amount of data being collected.
- The types of data being collected, like first and last names, email addresses, IP addresses, social media links, browser type, etc.
- The methods of data collection, like email list signups, contact forms, cookies, Google Analytics, etc.
- Why you're collecting the data, like gathering it for email newsletter marketing, e-commerce analytics, etc.
- With whom you're sharing the data, like your email provider to send them the emails they subscribed to, Google Analytics, etc.
WordPress actually provides you with a simple template to get started, if you'd like to use it.
Go to Settings > Privacy and you will see the following page – you'll want to click on the button that says “Create”:
It spits out these headers, with suggested text beneath each one:
- Who We Are
- Embedded content from other websites
- Who we share your data with
- How long we retain your data
- What rights you have over your data
- Where your data is sent
I don't want to get too deep in the weeds of what you should or shouldn't include at this point because that feels a little too close to retreating back to my paralegal days and I don't remember enough to be a trusted authority on legal matters 😉
But at the very least, make these changes:
- Remove the words “Suggested Text”
- Make sure you swap out any links or names to match your site if they don't already
- Add a “Last Updated: X/XX/XXXX” at the very top of the page. By doing a periodic review of this page and updating the date, you're showing your audience that you're paying attention.
I highly recommend seeking a legal professional to assist you in generating a privacy page that is tailored specifically to your site.
There are also sites like Termly that generate free privacy policies – use at your own risk.
You'll want to generate a new WordPress Page and then make sure that you add a link to the page in the footer of your site or in your menu so that people can easily find and access it.
2. Disclaimers page
What is a blog disclaimer?
Disclaimers clarify the purpose of your blog, your opinions, your relationships with affiliates and sponsors, and potential risks in your recipes.
Think of it as a giant “use at your own risk” sign.
For example: If someone is making your pancake recipe and it turns out to be a disaster and they set their kitchen on fire because they don't know how to use a gas stove – that's not your fault.
So you want to make sure that you're making it clear that you cannot control the results of the actions taken by the humans reading your site.
What disclaimers do I need on my blog?
Again – I'm not a lawyer! But I will share the disclaimers that I have on Stress Baking:
How do you write a blog disclaimer?
I'm a broken record, but I highly recommend seeking a legal professional to assist you in generating a disclaimer page that is tailored specifically to your site.
But sites like Termly can assist you in generating a disclaimer page – use at your own risk.
Where do you put a disclaimer on a blog?
What is a good disclaimer example?
I happen to think the disclaimers page I have on Stress Baking is pretty good – it's got me covered legally, and I added a bit of my own personality to it so that it's a little less dry!
Do you need a disclaimer for affiliate marketing?
You absolutely do. The FTC requires that you have an affiliate disclosure if you're being compensated (with money or product) by companies to mention their products on your site.
How do I add an affiliate disclaimer to my blog?
Add a section to your Disclaimers page for affiliate marketing. It doesn't need to be long, but it does have to cover the specific companies with which you're working.
For example, if you work with Amazon as well as Thermoworks, you need to call them both out separately in your affiliate disclaimer. You can see an example of this on Stress Baking.
Additionally, you'll want to have your affiliate disclaimer displayed on every page of your site that would potentially have affiliate links.
Most people add a single sentence to the footer of the site, but it's also best practice to have it at the top of each post. Some plugins, like the Feast Plugin, will embed this automatically for you.
It can be as simple as this:
This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission with each sale at no additional cost to you.
What is an example of a disclaimer for affiliate marketing?
You can see an example of this on Stress Baking:
Any purchases made via affiliate links on this site helps support Stress Baking to keep it going – so thank you!
Amazon. Stress Baking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon.com. If you purchase an item by clicking to Amazon.com via one of my affiliate links, I will receive a small commission – at no additional cost to you.
Geometry. Stress Baking is an affiliate with Geometry. I may earn a commission from Geometry from qualifying purchases.
GIR. Stress Baking is an affiliate with GIR. I may earn a commission from GIR from qualifying purchases.
ThermoWorks. Stress Baking is an affiliate with Thermoworks. If you purchase an item by clicking to ThermoWorks.com via one of my affiliate links, I will receive a small commission – at no additional cost to you.
What are the penalties for non-disclosure?
Under the FTC Act, you can face substantial fines for failing to comply with the rules regarding disclosures. And at the very least, your affiliate relationship with that company could be terminated permanently.
3. Terms of Service
What are the terms of service?
Your Terms of Services are basically a contract between you and your readers to protect you as the creator of your content. It explains what your readers can or cannot do with the content on your site, like… you know, steal it.
The work on your site is automatically copyrighted.
What to include in your terms of service
Here comes the broken record again: I highly recommend seeking a legal professional to assist you in generating a terms of service that is tailored specifically to your site.
But in general, you want the terms of service to cover:
- Copyright notices
- Prohibited use of your site
- How readers can use your site
Sites like Termly can assist you in generating terms of service – use at your own risk.
Where do you put terms of service on a blog?
Admittedly, I have mine as a part of my Disclaimers page.
4. Contact or Work With Me page
What is the contact page of a website?
Simply put, the Contact page is a page of your blog that contains your contact information so that your visitors know how to get in touch with you.
What is included in a contact page?
It can be as simple as an email address, or it could also include a mailing address, phone number, or an embedded contact form.
Some people use embedded contact forms via WordPress plugins to protect the privacy of their direct contact information, but they can often cause technical issues and be a less-than-desirable experience for the reader.
They're entering their information into a form on a site and sending it off into the internet ether. There's no way of knowing if the person on the other side is receiving it – so people tend to feel more comfortable with writing an email themselves to the indicated email address.
What makes a good contact page?
For the sake of a food blog, keeping it simple is the way to go. No muss, no fuss. I like to see an email address, and maybe links to social media channels (if you have any).
However, for Stress Baking I have my Partnership/Work With Me page combined with my Contact page because I've found over the years that they were being used for the same purpose.
Blog Legal Pages Summary
If I had to distill this page of what I know is tons of information into the shortest possible summary, it would be this:
- Disclaimers – “At your own risk”
- Terms of Service – Protects you
- Contact – Makes you accessible to your readers
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