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5 Great Ways to Get Sued as a Blogger

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The Internet has changed the game in terms of personal publishing. Now anyone, with only a few minutes a free account, can reach an audience of millions on the Web. Individuals with a little bit of free time can compete reasonably well with huge corporations with thousands of employees.

Unfortunately, very few bloggers have had any kind of mass media law training to prepare them for the responsibilities that come with reaching out to such a large audience and many end up running afoul of the law, often resulting in them being on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

While there are many pitfalls and ways that bloggers can be sued, some ways are more likely than others.

On that note, here are five of the more common lawsuit risks that bloggers face and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

1. Use Google as a Stock Image Search

If you want to include images in your blog, which is a great way to attract more attention to your posts and spice up your blog visually, you need to be careful where you pull them from.

Since copyright is affixed to most works upon creation, the vast majority of works on the Web are copyrighted. So using Google Image Search as a stock photo source is a very bad idea, especially considering that the stock photo industry has been on a massive litigation and legal threat campaign.

Instead, either use Creative Commons-licensed images or use freely-licensed stock photos from sites such as Morguefile and Stock.XCHNG.

2. Say Things That Aren’t True About Others

While you can express your opinions about others, saying things that are materially false may prompt those who feel you’ve hurt their reputation to sue you for libel.

This is becoming an increasingly common threat for bloggers, made worse by the habit of some for shopping for plaintiff-friendly venues, such as Australia. This is made possible by the international nature of the Web, which means that the libel can, in theory, happen just about anywhere in the world.

Your best bet is to stick to what you can prove and make what is your opinion very clear, possibly separating them if you can.

3. Post Other’s Personal Information

Contrary to what many assume, privacy does exist on the Web, at least in the legal sense, and posting private information about someone can lead to a lawsuit if they feel that the divulgement may have harmed them.

What is and is not private information is becoming a very difficult question these days, especially when some of it may have a legitimate news gathering purpose, but your best bet is to stick to information that is already publicly available.

For example, DUI and arrest charges are public information once they go live on official state websites and data records. This means you may only have a few options left when trying to remove your information online. For example, a last resort might be to hire an attorney to represent you and to contact any of the websites that are posting your information online.

You can’t be sued for divulging private information when the person has already released it themselves, though even there there are some difficult questions about what happens when information was posted in a semi-private forum, such as on a private Facebook group.

4. Misunderstand Fair Use

While it is true that fair use allows you to make limited use of other’s copyrighted works without permission, that exception is both very small and is by no means a free pass to copy and republish whatever you want.

While, generally, taking short quotes from another article for the purpose of criticism or commentary is considered acceptable, republishing an entire article verbatim generally is not.

As a blogger, it’s worth taking a few moments to understand the basics of fair use, how to understand which uses are likely to be considered “fair” and how to use other’s works in a way that is less likely to get you sued.

5. Spamming

Though it is unlikely that many of us would consider ourselves spammers, it is important to remember that what one person considers legitimate marketing, another likely considers spam.

The CAN-SPAM act in the U.S. put some strict criteria on email marketing and most people aren’t aware of all of them. Also, posting comments against a site’s terms of service, especially if you have to circumvent some kind of security measure to do so, can also lead to issues under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act or simply under contract law.

Your best bet is, if you want to have an email newsletter or do email marketing that you have a partner like Mailchimp that is knowledgeable about the law and will work to keep you within it. Also, always be careful to post comments legitimate and, if you feel that you’re unwanted, go somewhere else.

BONUS TIPS: Not Getting Legal Expertise and Advice in Advance

More often than not, it’s better to get advice and expertise beforehand, and not trying to beg for forgiveness later on. After all, when you are dealing with companies and law enforcement that are looking to make examples out of people all the time, the last thing you want is for them to make one out of you.

Just like how you might get a free consultation from a lawyer for any problems in life that you may have had offline, you can do the same for your blog, brand or business as well. This not only helps bring in new business for the attorney or firm, but can also send the end user off in the right direction and let them know what actions might need to take place before moving to the next step.

The good news is, having legal counsel and advice beforehand will go over much better than if you were to try and obtain an attorney after the fact. This is something every blogger, content creator, and brand must consider when conducting business online.

Bottom Line

All in all, there are many dangers when it comes to posting and distributing a blog online and there are a lot of laws that you need to understand and avoid crossing.

That being said, the EFF has a great guide to Blogger’s Rights that talks about many of these laws and how you can avoid being sued over them.

In short, you don’t have to be an expert on mass media law to be a good blogger, but having a little knowledge might help keep you out of court.

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Blogging

How to Deal with the Overwhelm of Blogging Success

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I am no blogging billionaire. Currently.

But some days, as success builds, I feel overwhelmed. How do you devote time and energy to blogging and live a rich life offline too? Do you feel overwhelmed by slow, steadily increasing blogging success? Even though experiencing success feels good, the increased responsibility may feel daunting. I love my gig. But in moments, I fear being up until 1 AM to complete my work day.

Follow these tips to deal with the overwhelm of blogging success.

1: Address the Overwhelmed Feeling as Being Fear

Feeling overwhelmed is fear, plain and simple. Feel the fear. Fear passes. Overwhelm vanishes.

All successful business owners need face, feel and release fears to accelerate their growth. Every successful blogger faces, feels and releases overwhelmed emotions to proceed from a calm, abundant energy. Face your fears. Feel and release overwhelm to proceed from a calm, peaceful energy.

2: Trade Overwhelm for Gratitude

Change your perspective. Trade the overwhelmed feeling for a feeling of genuine gratitude for money flowing freely to you. Even if you love your gig, taking on increased responsibility feels uncomfortable sometimes. But receiving more and more money for your increased responsibility frees you from financial stresses like worrying about paying bills. Dwell on gratitude. Overwhelm dies quickly in an appreciative environment. Making more money and largely enjoying the ride feels fun, good and freeing. Remember this any time overwhelmed, swamped emotions flood your mind.

3: Ask for Help

Hire someone to help with specific blogging tasks. Outsource. Hand off certain tasks to free up your schedule. Reduce overwhelm by hiring someone to help you or by coming to a mutually beneficial agreement which lessens your blogging load. Hire experts to help you in your business. Outsource intelligently to relax, to leverage and to let go the feeling of being completely burned out with your blogging business duties.

 4: Simplify Your Interactions

A few folks pitched me sponsored post opportunities today. I responded with 2 sentences. I used approximately 9 words and 8 seconds to respond to each email. Release overwhelm by simplifying interactions. Seven figure bloggers sometimes respond only to 1 or 2 sentence emails. Pros often respond with 1-2 words. Otherwise, pros become completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of business opportunities flowing to their inbox daily. Use a few words to make your point and to dissolve the swamped feeling plaguing successful bloggers.

5: Reduce Interactions

Iconic, fictitious trader Gordon Gekko said in the movie Wall Street: “100 deals cross my desk every day. I choose one.”

As the sponsored post pitches, partnership pitches and overall work volume builds, you need to physically respond to only a small handful of engagements daily to leverage, to keep increasing your traffic and to keep increasing your blogging profits. No highly successful bloggers responds to 1000 plus interactions daily through email, Twitter and Facebook because you need to give most of your time, attention and energy to creating content and building bonds versus desperately trying to respond to every retweet, at least if you want your blogging business to keep growing.

Surrender. After responding to a handful of emails and retweets, let everything else go, to focus your attention and energy on what brings the greatest scale, what benefits the most people and what benefits your blogging business. Tony Robbins gives most of his attention and energy to inspiring millions through live seminars, through doing TV interviews and by writing books; he ain’t responding individually to 5000 emails daily. Be 100% committed to your blog and business growth by giving your time and energy to what matters most.

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Blogging

How About Helping Versus Pitching Top Bloggers?

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I often get pitched guest post ideas from bloggers I do not know. Although I appreciate the offer I never take up these folks on their offer because I do not know them, their brand or anything they do. No way do I have the time to actually research the individual; I am a busy bee. Another email bites the dust. I either ignore the email or note guest posting closed long ago on my blog, then include a link to one of my eBooks, like this branding eBook.

Who guest posts on my blog?  People who generously helped me, asked for nothing, expected nothing and relaxed. Relaxing is key. Bloggers who help me from a chill vibe often befriend me if they practice writing to hone their blogging skills. From there, opportunities multiply fast.  Sweet backlinks on top blogs often flow your way. Traffic and profits increases slowly, steadily expand over time. Blogging buddies supply you with blog post ideas through their questions and problems.  Everything grows because you helped top bloggers versus pitching them aka asking them for help. Even if you pitch a valuable guest post idea, the guest post idea serves no value unless you publish the guest post on a trusted, authority blog boasting a huge, loyal readership. Pitches seem worthless until content and links actually appear on top blogs, going live and public, for the world to see.

I often advise helping bloggers freely for months before considering any ask or pitch. Most times, blogging buddies invite you to guest post on their blogs. Blogging success flows to generous people because you get what you give. This is one of the advantages of blogging. Give freely, relax, trust in the process and receive easily.  Place your needs to the side. Take care of your fellow blogger. Help them out via a retweet, Facebook Share or perhaps by promoting the blogger on your blog. Nobody needs to struggle blogging. Nobody needs to spend 4 hours daily sending blind pitches to blogging strangers. How about this? Spend those 4 hours patiently, persistently and generously helping people in your blogging niche. Help fellow bloggers to earn their trust. Assist fellow bloggers to befriend fellow bloggers. The split second you earn the trust of any blogger, you plant seeds for a beautiful, thriving, warm friendship. Gaining the trust of fellow bloggers inspires traffic and profits to flow to you. Forget the concept of pitching. I pitched 2 people during my 6 years of running Blogging From Paradise. One blogger pitch served as an experiment with an established, pro blogger and the other pitch served as the direct way to guest post for a 2 million member blogging community.

My 13,500 plus backlinks on Blogging From Paradise flowed to me after I pitched only 2 souls. Imagine that for a second. Observe the raw power of making friends, helping people, expecting nothing and being generous. Capitalize on the passive element of befriending bloggers through generous service. Tonight I will spend 90 minutes walking around my neighborhood. During that hour and a half, my blogging buddies will promote my blog and spread my word. Ditto for my 8 hours of sleep tonight; my blogging buddies grow my traffic and profits around the clock, adding an immensely powerful, passive element to my blogging campaign.

Being generous has some serious perks.

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Blogging

Should You Blog About Everything?

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blog about everything

Blog about everything? I know this idea may be on your mind. Newbie bloggers especially ponder the idea.

I know blogging about anything on your mind seems like a good idea to new or even struggling bloggers. Maybe you gain mojo because you post daily, blogging about anything popping up in your dome. But this is a bad idea. Nobody should blog about any and every topic for the clear reason that nobody follows a specific blogger based on the blogger’s random thoughts, save world famous celebrities who built up a big following through some other niche.

Imagine a movie star begins blogging. Movie stars boast tens of millions of fans around the globe. Anything the star does, people hang on their every word, right? Imagine the icon publishing posts on a wide range of topics interesting to them. People read because of the star, not because of the wide range of broad topics. But imagine being a new blogger with zero followers. No movie stars read this post. Readers head for the hills the moment you change topics because no jack of all trades bloggers build credibility. Who has the time, energy and focus to be an expert in 5, 10 or 20 niches? No one does.

Blog About Everything?

Humans specialize. Doctors and lawyers do one thing and do it well because where attention and energy goes, grows. Imagine if your doctor delivered mail and picked up garbage professionally, too, working 2 jobs in addition to their medical practice. Would you trust her doctor skills? No. Of course not. People trust specialists because specialists devote all professional time and energy to one venture. Generalists? Nobody trusts someone who tries to master 2 or 5 or 10 skills simultaneously because thousands of other people master 1 skill, in these areas. We follow specialists and trust specialists. Generalists fade away.

If you want to blog about everything just ponder the specialist versus generalist point. Blogging about everything is trying to be a generalist. Nobody trusts you. Even though blogging about everything seems easy, seamless and almost effortless, people stop following your blog on each topic change. Imagine blogging about puppies one day. People who love puppies find your post, read it, enjoy it and follow your blog. Tomorrow, you publish about Chinese food. Puppy readers – who followed you for puppy content – skip the post…..most stop following your blog because puppy fans want only puppy-themed content. You just lost readers, for good.

Change Topics Lose Readers

Visualize the following day; you publish about relationships. Everybody stops following your blog. Perhaps a few relationships-focused folks read the post. But you lose trust the moment you shift topics again. Ultimately, who builds a large, targeted, loyal following, blogging about relationships? Relationships bloggers who blog about relationships 100% of the time. Specialists devote all blogging energy to mastering one topic, spending thousands of hours covering the topic, become skilled and trusted in the niche, build credibility and become successful. All multi topic bloggers blogging about everything fade away and vanish.

The world makes room for specialists. Generalists? Nope.

Specialize

Pick one blogging topic. Blog about one thing. Focus on one discipline. Be a specialist, not a generalist, to be a leading blogger in your nice. Face your fear of releasing multiple passions to make room for a single passion. I know you fear letting go. I did too before creating Blogging From Paradise.

blog about everything

Google

Google loves specialists too. Google turns its cyber nose down at generalists. I scanned a popular blogging key phrase a few moments ago. Guess what? I rarely note SEO but tidying up one blog post with some details for optimizing helped me reach page one on the search engine. Why? I specialize in the blogging tips niche. Apparently. Google interpreted through its complex algorithms that I published thousands of valuable blog posts on a single topic 100% of the time, virtually. Google traffic rocks. Impress the search engine gods by gaining search trust. Specialize. Stick to one blogging topic. Never blog about everything.

Conclusion

Let go the urge to blog about anything that comes to mind. New bloggers need release this notion to build the foundation for a successful blogging career. Specialize by picking one niche you love blogging about. Be a specialist, not a generalist, to succeed with your blogging campaign.

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