Your Blog as a Business


Lauren Marie Fleming
Liz Gumbinner
Susan Getgood

Lauren: That's awesome. Hi, I figured I'm talking about really boring stuff. Starting with an anecdote started my blogging while in law school. everyone told me it would ruin my law career. Business associations is the class that I started my blog in and now.

Today we are going to talk about business structures. It helps you with tax liability and not to get sued. You know where you're headed and where you're going. You want your blog to be focused and planned.

Lauren: Has anyone been incorporated?

Lauren: Audience we're an LLC I have to partners and they wonder why they have to be pay 800 dollars and I tell them that so we are protected. Just in case we screw up and put the picture up on website.

Lauren: you do that in order not to lose your assets

Audience: We are an scorp.

Lauren: Talk to someone who knows or a tax account. Anyone a sole proprietor?

Audience Member: Tell me why you chose to be a sole proprietor.

Lauren: If you're doing a blog and making money you are automatically a sole proprietor. We are not going to talk about non-profit as much. We are not going into non-profit but if you'd like to talk to me feel free to come up to me and we can talk afterwards.

Lauren: Your day-to-day expenses can be deducted from your taxes.

Lauren: Con -- you're personally liable for all expenses. We are not going to go into How to form. You just have to file with you state. I'll send you the slides.

Problem with general partnership is if your partner does something wrong you're also responsible. I tell people to stay away from it but if you do go into LLC.

LLC problem with LLC most states have LLC gives you flexibility you can deduct your income that your company makes from your taxes. Or you can be a corporation that makes it separate. It gives you the liability detection you can sue the company not me. So that is a great way to incorporate. As corporations in the last 3-5 years. It's actually really easy to scorp hard part is coming out with a name.

Audience Member: How close does the name of the corporation name have to be to your blog?

Lauren: It doesn't have to be but if you use a name that doesn't have anything to do with it but you'll say DBA doing business as. Pick your name really seriously. You really want to make sure that really represents a business. Most states have small business classes.

Audience Member: This is a silly question our name is 4 friends for good but now one of the friends has left in order to work full time. Every time we look at it we cringe.

Lauren: You want a name that grows with the company. Whether you're 5 or 20 people the name is fine.

Audience Member: Having a business from another country. Would you recommend to grow a business here or foreign?

Lauren: Do you do business here. If you are only online you can be incorporated anywhere. Any kind of physical presence you must file in the state that you're doing business there. If you're in any state you want to have LLC in that state.

Audience Member: Is where your server located a physical presence?

Lauren: It depends on..

Audience Member: I have my own server. It's me in one particular state.

Lauren: It's a little too complicated for me you may want to talk to an attorney.

Corporations are very complicated. You can also file your taxes in many different ways. If you're making a lot of money and a serious blogging business, then you'll want to dBA a corporation. If you have any employees, physical place, and goods I'd suggest Corporations. And you can receive stock and that is a great benefit.

CCorps and Scorps are not. Talk to a tax accountant because it can really complicated really fast.

When starting up I'd suggest LLC.

There are what I'm talking about LLC is the way to go. If you're going to be giving days off and paid vacations and benefits.

Audience Member: 6 employees. I have a company started as other companies under one umbrella.

Liz: Do you believe to establish an LLC, should they do it themselves or go to an attorney.

Lauren: You can do it yourself and file your taxes yourself instant wam bam and 75 dollars later you're protected

Lauren: California and Connecticut where you decide to incorporate wherever you decide to DBA and have physical business.

Audience Member: You can also get a register agent and that you can be your physical presence.

Susan: If you're an individual starting a business then you're fine doing it on your own but if you're a couple of people than you should see a lawyer because it can get complicated.

Lauren: These books called nolo if you can't afford an attorney that will walk you through the entire business.

Audience Member: Legal Zoom.

Lauren: I've never used legal zoom but I've heard mixed reviews on them.

Corporations are good if there are a lot of people and you're making a lot of money. If you're confused there are attorneys out there and tax accountants who can help you.

Audience Member: When is the tipping point, and where do you find a tax accountant?

Lauren: Anytime you're making any kind of money and word of mouth is the best way to find an accountant or attorney. I find businesses don't get a lot of leeway. If you're tax savvy you can figure out how to do that. Any other questions.

There is a great book called by Jennifer LEE the Right Brained Business Plan. Today we are going to talk about Left Brain Business Plan. We Are gonna go down the row and talk about each one.

An executive summary a paragraph in the middle of the page it should be the last thing you do. Because its the last thing you figure out after you go through the trenches. Company overview its a plan, a way to focus you, its a great thing to take to the banks, it gives you cred. Who are you competing against. Are you someone unique? Are you another blog talking about red. You have to have statistics. If there are any writers in the room this is great information if you're turning your blog into a book. I'd also include how you will grow your business. I use my marketing plan on how I'm going to continue working on a day to day basis. It gives you mediums and ways. Financial Plan how are you going to pay for this fun blog. When you're making a financial plan you have to look at who your audience is. Finding a way to have a plan its okay if your blog doesn't make a dime.

Susan: Always plan; it's about writing it down and thinking it through what you're going to do when you're starting out figure out how you're going to pay for it. Don't get wrapped up in a big plan.

Lauren: Don't get caught up in if you're not going to make money but it's really important to know how you're going to make money. So this is your goal. Action plan and marketing plan give me a day to day. I want to turn my blog into a book, want to be a super star in reality TV. It's important to write them down and keep you accountable.

Staying on track whatever way you need to make a business plan. Anyone have an advisory board.

Audience member: A group of mentors I've picked up a long the way.

Lauren: Advisory board a group of friends who can help you figure out what you're doing. You need people who are going to be honest. Looking around the room these are people who can be your best board. Writing collectives are great I have a ogle group that helps me.

Six Figure Freelancing by Kelly James-Enger she does really random things to make money to help you out and support your blog. That's the end. You'll get all that and more in your email boxes.

Audience Member: Tell us about some of the pictures on the wall and what they look like.

Lauren: One of the pictures is me next to bestseller sign when bloggers used to be open, a picture of me with a lot of free things that I receive, a picture of me taking a nap, thought bubbles that I received at bed bath and beyond that sticks to any wall. I'm also a spreadsheet fanatic and that helps me to figure out where my money is coming from. and I have a picture of me behind a podium that reminds me I like to speak.

Audience Member: I put pictures all over the house that I look at daily and I believe.

Lauren: a forture cookie I got when I was trying to figure out if I should take the bar. Remind me to ask questions when I don't know what I'm doing.

Audience Member: Just wanted to thank you and everyone here and I've been blogging for 3 years and I've just reached a crossroads I just wanted to thank you for being here. I write a lot about wellness and being a better member of The Active Mommy blog.

Susan: You don't have to think that you're making money on your blog.

Liz: It's not all about selling ads. I want to talk about Blog with Integrity. Before any FTC stuff came about when bloggers were being attacked. We created it for bloggers to have disclosure and to be aware of all the rules.

Susan: Kids will come home from school and say I've learned about the great new band name The Beatles. It's always new to someone. People are signing our pledge everyday is discovering blog ethics and what you should do.

Liz: Some people think its common sense but a lot of people don't know. Has anyone ever heard of the term Cooks Illustrated or chef. And so they took a woman's blog post and edited it and put it in their magazine and someone recognized and the editor said, honestly Monica, you should be glad that we published your work since we had to edit it so much. It's proof that people in this industry still don't understand the rules and regulations.

Susan: Ask first is the rule. Copyright is simple but it's not. Original works of publishership anything you've created yourself you can't copyright a list of ingredients but you can copyright an expression of a recipe.

Audience Member: I don't understand.

Liz: If you are a good blogger and it's actually hard to copyright a recipe.

Susan: A picture of a recipe is copyrighted so someone can't just remove.

Liz: Every so often we'll get an issue with it it can start out with a kind email that says that you've just for fun type a full sentence or two and see if your sentence comes up anywhere else.

Audience Member: I'm a crafter and I started watermarking them I see someone took my card and put it on interest.

Susan: Pinterest is weird because its almost like plagiarizing other peoples works. Pinterest is creation site it pulls and creates a copy of something else.

Liz: Interest has created a code so that if you don't want to be pinned it will not allow it and send a message. Watermarks are helpful if you're a photographer. If you're selling something, it might be in your interest to have your cards on pinterest. One more thing you don't have to ask permission to link to anything because its public domain.

Susan: If you see a picture on another site, I emailed the author and asked to use the picture of birds and they said sure why not. If you want to use more than a little bit that's when you need to say to another author that you want to use their entire post or puckers

Lauren: Gawker and Huffington Post.

Liz: They used to reprint the entire post a few years ago they've gotten better.

Audience Member: when should you seek a copyright lawyer

Susan: Put a copyright statement on your blog and assert your rights. There is something called a copyright commons. You can creative common license. All rights reserved share alike, watermark is protecting your copyright and promoting your brand.

Lauren: Even if it says creative common license give credit.

Audience Member: Platform for Spanish speaking bloggers -- I have a notice for the things that the bloggers might use. I know that's what is okay for Mexico.

Susan: If you're a publisher and paying for people to post, then you need to have a disclaimer.

Lauren: If you go and do something illegally then you're solely responsible and not going to hold me responsible. If you're a small site.

Liz: Fairly big website that is being sued even though the writer is the one who stole the work the entire site is being sued.

Susan: If you have a relationship with the writer. Get a designer to get a logo, higher a lawyer, and don't do your own taxes get an accountant. It's really important to get someone professional.

Lauren: If you don't have the money get really good books that will help you along the way. Nolo has a great one for small businesses and contract. Its always great to have a person but if you can't afford it.

Liz: Who has a copyright line. If you don't have one go home and get one.

Audience Member: I participate in a Mexican Huffington Post.

Susan: A lot of that scraping stuff is an SEO tactic SEO is dead. Good news as SEO becomes less relevant.

Audience Member: I'm a journalist and I'm not sure the things is I'm writing book called who owns your book. My question is 6 million -- there is a website is there some way I can protect my content AOL and whoever can fun it wherever they are going to run it.

Liz: Would a site like Vimeo be a better place for you then YouTube which is created for sharing?

Susan: If you don't like your video being used at all.

Lauren: Put small snippets that would be better for you and then put the full content on their blog.

Lauren: You shouldn't be sued for using bandwidth; you can talk to me.

Audience Member: Could you differentiate trademark and copyright?

Lauren: Trademark is golden arches and copyright is kind of longer is a mark of the trade.

Liz: Poor man's copyright is sending a package through the mail which doesn't really hold up in court.

Lauren: There is also a slogan mark where you can copyright your slogan as well.

Susan: We're going to give you the FTC guidelines and disclosure the basic entry point is how to help advertisers comply. It's about endorsements and it's not clear.

Liz: For example someone holds up a Pepsi and you automatically know they've been compensated but as a blogger disclosing that you've received this for free or paid for the post.

Susan: You have to understand that in large part it's not about you, it's about advertising and it needs to be clear. 5 cases you need to know about if you bought the product then you should disclose that you received it for review.

Liz: If you're known for reviewing books then a blanket statement will suffice as long as your audience.

Susan: When you're doing something about a product and you want to be careful to not say things that aren't factual. Making sure that when reads your content that its clear with who is making.

Liz: For integrity reasons. You shouldn't take the press release at value don't copy anything. If you see a vitamin the FDA hasn't seen. You can't make blanket claim about a product. You can write according to or as reported.

Susan: So to summarize you must disclose if you're getting money, a consultant for and express what that relationship is. You need to follow your policy if you're going to say that you only review things you buy then you should say that. Just in case you make a false statement for something you purchase then the company will probably contact you in order to correct you, but if you're paid make sure you're putting factual results. If you have a blog the disclosure must be on your post.

Lauren: If you're a site that reviews I have a page header that has your disclosure. For my writers whom I give products to I tell them to use language that says my personal opinion.

Liz: Copying a press release is not great. If you're compensated you don't have to put how much you were compensated.

Lauren: If you got a product to giveaway you must disclose you received the product for free.

Liz: It's never in consideration for a post.

Susan: Does the audience understand the relationship between the company and the speaker? If it's clear then you don't have to disclose.

Liz: And the other thing is, there are some sites out there that have language to use. It doesn't seem authentic to use use your own words don't copy and paste.

Lauren: I do that on my site but I also have my own review disclosure to keep somewhere on our site.

Susan: As long as you understand that its your own site and you can write it however makes you comfortable. The simpler it is the better.

Liz: Those disclaimers can be long but make it your own.

Susan: Remember you're going to get a lot of stuff in the Expo Hall.

Lauren: It would be nice to write that you received everything at BlogHer.

Liz: My understanding is that there is no material.

Audience Member: How can you disclose on twitter?

Liz: If you're paid to tweet you have to put #SP or #Sponsor. We had a seminar; they don't have guidelines for twitter.

Susan: I use the hashtag and company #AD instead of #Spon so that we can have more words.

Audience Member: Is there any liability for a blogger who has a negative opinion?

Lauren: You can say that it's your opinion and you can be straight up and say that you don't have to review it. If you're going to write a negative.

Liz: Wrote a post about the t-shirt that says I'm too cute to do my homework so my brother does it. I used my own opinion.

Audience Member: If I get a product and it gives me a UTI can I say it?

Susan: Yes you can.

Lauren: As long as it really took place yes.

Liz: My obligation is to my readers and not to an organization.

Lauren: Sometimes it can be good and help to fix issues with the product and the pricing.

Susan: They want that feedback. Both approaches are ok to do.

Liz: If you write a thoughtful critique, PR Reps appreciate that.

Liz: On Saturday that there is a copywriting panel.