Here’s my notes on Darren Rowse’s Problogger Free Podcast on 31 Days to Building a Better Blog. You can listen to Darren Rowse’s free podcast here Day 21 Conduct a Policy Review. The complete list of challenges can be read here on Day 0 – Welcome and Introduction.
As I’ve mentioned before, to get the full benefit of this series I’m going to go at a slower pace by posting this series on Tuesdays each week. I hope with this challenge we are all able to improve our blogs and websites.
So lets do this together! Day 21 here we go! Subscribe and check back often! #31DBBB
Day 21: Today the challenge is to conduct a policy review.
Today’s challenge may seem a bit strange or out of place. However, it is really important to do. Spend some time looking at the operating standards or procedures for your blog.
Before we get started what is a policy?
Here are 7 areas that you should consider creating policies for your blog.
If you are willing for people to use your content it might mean you create a creative commons license on your blog. There’s a variety of different types so you might want to do some research. If not, you might want to brush up your copy right notice. There are posts on Problogger on this topic.
Consider processes and procedures to ensure that the guest posters own the content they are submitting. For instance, on Darren’s Digital Photography School site people have submitted articles they didn’t write. So you might want to put a process in place where you run a few sentences through a tool like Copyscape.com or simply a Google search of any guest post to ensure it’s not posted elsewhere.
You also might want to think ahead what you will do if you find someone else using your content without your permission.
Use these questions as a guide for developing your Copyright Policy:
- Are you willing for other people to use your content in some way?
- What approach would you take if someone used your content without your permission?
- Would you write them an email requesting they remove your content?
- Would you issue a DMZA legal notice?
- Would you confront them publicly?
Having a process in place with two or three options in what order might save you going on a rant on your blog when you could simply email them to ask them to take the content down. Thinking ahead might save you headaches in the long run.
Another area to have a policy is to set what is and what isn’t acceptable in the comments section of your blog.
Use these questions as a guide for developing your Comments Policy:
- Do you have any guidelines for what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior in those comments?
- Will you ever delete or edit a comment?
- If so, under what circumstances would you delete or edit a comment?
- Do you allow swearing or is it a more family-friendly environment?
- Do you allow linking to products or back to people’s blogs?
- If so, how many products will you allow?
- Do you allow people to attack other people in their comments and how do you react if they do?
These are policies that are good as you moderate comments. But you might want to make your comments policy public. At times there are comments that we are not comfortable or happy to have on our blogs. So it might be a good idea to actually create a page to explicitly state what your comments policies and guidelines.
Guest Posting Policy
A good area to create a policy is the area of guest posting or content acceptance. If you have guest posts on your blog you might want to set some ground rules and a submission process.
Use these questions as a guide for developing your Guest Posting Policy:
- How do you want people to submit posts?
- What topics do you want submissions on?
- Is there a certain minimum and maximum length of words of posts submissions?
- Will you allow people to self-promote in their posts?
- Is there a format you want them to submit those posts in?
- How and when will you respond to submissions?
- How will guest poster be credited in the blog post?
- Do they need to be a registered user of your site first?
- Will you require guest posters register on another website such as Gravatar?
These are things you could write up in just a few paragraphs and post on your blog somewhere.
Email Management Policy
When you first start your blog you may get one or two emails a day. So it would not be hard to respond to those emails. But once your blog gets bigger and you start getting 100 emails a day you might consider an email management policy.
Use these questions as a guide for developing your Email Management Policy:
- How are you going to respond to those emails?
- How long does it take to respond to emails?
- Will you respond to every email submission?
Put this policy on your contact page so those who do submit an email in the contact page to have realistic expectations of if, when, and how you will respond.
This is something to discuss with your spouse, significant other, and family. Your own personal safety is not something to gloss over here.
- How much will you discuss of your personal life?
- Will you be sharing photos of yourself and your family?
- Will you be using your real name?
- Will you disclose what area you live in?
- Will you get yourself a PO Box or unlisted phone number?
Discuss these things today to avoid conflict and potential issues in the future.
Advertising and Promotions Disclosures Policy
This is one that you may legally need to put in place depending upon where you live.
Use these questions as a guide for developing your Advertising and Promotions Policy:
- If you promote other people’s products as a sponsor or an affiliate how are you going to disclose that?
- Will it be on the specific post you write or a general disclosure on your site?
- What kind of products or services would consider as a sponsor?
- What kind of sponsor would you not consider?
- What type of advertising will you accept?
- Will you accept sponsored posts, text links, banners, competitions, or other forms of advertising?
- How will you link to other people’s websites?
- Will you give them a no follow link or follow link?
In many parts of the world you need to disclose advertisements and promotions so do some research on this subject. Darren says he got approached regularly on Problogger by scammy products and services so he put a policy in place. It’s good to have those decisions made before you start getting approached by advertisers.
- How do you manage personal information?
- How will that personal information be used?
- How can people contact you and talk about the personal information?
So the challenge today is to pick at least one of these areas to develop policies and procedures for your blog. This doesn’t mean you have to publish it necessarily. Some of these may be more for you to think ahead about potential issues. Definitely do consider publishing policies on your blog you link to publicly policies on comments, reader privacy, and advertising disclosures.
Do some research today on what you are legally required to publish.
Further Reading and Resources:
- Creative Commons Licenses
- Information about the DCMA
- Art of Blogging: Writing your First Pages: About, FTC Blogger Disclosure, Privacy Page
- About Money: Blogging and Social Media Policy Example