351: Understanding Data Collection, GDPR, and CCPA as a Content Creator with Danielle Liss

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A laptop showing Google Analytics and the title of Danielle Liss's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Understanding Data Collection.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti.

Welcome to episode 351 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Danielle Liss from Businessese and LISS Legal about understanding data collection, GDPR, and CCPA.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork shared some of the main takeaways from our recent Podcast Listener Survey. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Understanding Data Collection, GDPR, and CCPA

We’ve probably all heard the terms GDPR and CCPA at one point or another… but what do they actually mean? And how do they impact us as content creators?

That’s what we’re discussing in this episode with Danielle Liss! She’s our Legal Expert here at Food Blogger Pro, and she’s coming back on the podcast today to chat all about data collection and important legal considerations to keep in mind as influencers.

It’s a great episode, and Danielle is fantastic at communicating complex legal topics in an easy-to-understand manner. Enjoy!

A quote from Danielle Liss’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'You need to have a basic understanding of what is installed on your site and what you're collecting and what you're doing with it.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Danielle helps digital creators
  • Unique ways you can earn money as an influencer
  • Some important legal considerations to keep in mind when monetizing your business
  • What GDPR is and why it’s important for influencers
  • How you might be collecting data on your visitors
  • What CCPA is and how to become compliant
  • How you can work with Danielle


About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!

With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.

Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:

  • Early access to their $25/Month Forever pricing
  • Optimization ideas for your site content
  • An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
  • And more!

You can learn more and sign up here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Food Blogger Pro logo with the words 'Join the Community' on a blue background

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I is how you spell Clariti, all different iterations of how people say it, but it’s Clariti because it helps you to be clear on what it is that you need to be working on and really gives you direction around how you can go around improving and updating and tracking the content on your blog. We built it because we had been managing everything in a spreadsheet. So, my guess is there’s two people listening to this podcast. One would be, you are people who track stuff and you probably track it in a spreadsheet, maybe Airtable, maybe Notion and my guess is it’s a lot of manual work. There’s another group of people who just aren’t tracking anything and that’s okay, you’ll get there eventually, but Clariti’s going to be the tool that’s going to allow you to do that more easily. It’s going to allow you to not spend as much manual time doing the tracking, updating, improving, and just generally understanding the lay of the land with your content.

Bjork Ostrom: And one of the things that I think is most important, a lot of times we talk about hiring on this podcast, but one of the things we don’t talk about enough, and I probably should talk about it more is some of the first positions you should hire for are software. It’s not an actual person you’re hiring software to come in and do a lot of the work that you are doing. And that’s what Clariti is for us as the Pinch of Yum team, Food Blogger Pro team, we use Clariti to take manual work away from our day-to-day tasks and we automate that. It’s one of the easiest ways to have your first hire.

Bjork Ostrom: So, if you’re thinking, “Oh…” I hear people talk about hiring a lot, “Who should my next hire be?” My encouragement for you would let your next hire be a tool like Clariti, where you’re going to spend $25 a month and you’re going to save an incredible amount of time. That’s what it’s all about. So, if you want to check it out, if you want to learn a little bit more about what it is and how it works, you can go to clariti.com/food, and you can deep dive into the ins and outs of Clariti just by signing up for that list. And that’s not going to sign you up for the app. It’s not going to sign you up and process any payments or anything like that. It’s just going to allow you to understand the tool better through some onboarding emails that give you a little bit of context around what Clariti does and why we built it. So again, that’s clariti.com/food if you want to check that out.

Bjork Ostrom: And as a last note here, we’re halfway through this 25 forever deal. So, when I say you can think of hiring Clariti at $25 a month as a little like a team member, who’s in the background working for you, that deal’s not going to last forever, we’re just wanting to get to our first 500 users as we’re in the early stages with this, you’ll still get a lot of value out of it. But the great thing is, as the value within Clariti increases, as we build out more features, as we build out more functionality, you will be locked in at that $25 price as a thank you for signing up early for being somebody who’s using the tool early on, giving us feedback, but also finding a lot of value out of it.

Bjork Ostrom: We’ve actually had two people this week, it was last week, actually that followed up and one per person said, “I love it was all L-O-V-E, capital, this service, and somebody else said the same thing in the Slack channel, which you can join and be a part of that after you sign up for Clariti to see how other people are using it, and the questions that come up and offer any insider feedback along the way. So, thank you to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello. This is Bjork, welcome to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Thanks for listening. It’s one of the great joys that we have recording this podcast each week and sharing it into the interwebs. And one of the great joys that I have is having conversations with experts. One of those experts is Danielle Liss. She is the founder of Liss Legal and helps bloggers, publishers, creators with all things legal related to their blog or their social or sponsored content or privacy policies, or these acronyms like CCPA or CPRA and GDPR and helping us understand what that actually means for us as publishers, as bloggers, as creators, what we need to know about it, what action we need to take, what we need to be aware of, what we don’t have to like move on, what fears we should actually have and what ones we shouldn’t?

Bjork Ostrom: And we’re going to be having some of those conversations with Danielle today on the podcast. She is doing this day in and day out. And I love having conversations that are with people who are doing day in and day out work in a really specific subject because, or within a really specific niche, because they have insights and expertise and opinions that nobody else has. And I think Danielle is one of the leading experts in the world on all things social, sponsored content, legal, the big category of legal as it relates to this industry that we’re in. So, there’s going to be a lot of important information to be aware of and to track along with. And I think you’ll really enjoy the conversations. Speaking of conversations, one of my favorite places to track along with conversations that are happening is the Food Blogger Pro Facebook group, Food Blogger Pro podcast Facebook group specifically.

Bjork Ostrom: We are getting up to almost 400 members there, and it’s a chance to have conversations after a podcast is published or to get responses before a podcast is published around questions that people might have. So, an example might be, next time we interview Danielle, we might post in this group and say, “Hey, does anybody have any legal questions for Danielle?” And we’d source those and bring those into the podcast. And a lot of times, we’ll have a conversation after a podcast airs. So, it’s not just a one-way conversation with me and a guest, but we can make it kind of three-dimensional and open that conversation up to listeners of the podcast within that group. So, if you want to join, go to foodbloggerpro.com/facebook that will redirect you to the podcast page for this group and would love for you to join the conversation there. All right. Let’s go ahead and jump into all things legal with Danielle Liss from Liss Legal. Danielle, welcome to the podcast.

Danielle Liss: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s fun for a couple of reasons to talk to you. One, because you’ve been on the podcast multiple times, it’s like kind of checking in with a friend, it’s like our virtual quarterly coffee with Danielle. Two, because you know a lot about this world and this industry. And so, anytime that we can touch base with somebody who spends their days thinking about a really specific area within the world that we live, which is kind of content, publishing content online, whether that be social or a blog, there’s always really interesting things that come from it. So, for those who haven’t caught any of those past six episodes, and we’ll link to those in the show notes if anybody wants to dive deep on legal, can you share a little bit about your background, who you are and what you’re about and how you got into this?

Danielle Liss: Sure. If the legal part didn’t give it away, I am a lawyer. I have a small firm where I work primarily with online business owners and I work with a lot of bloggers and influencers, and that was really born out of the fact that I was a blogger a long, long time ago. I started in 2004 and went to about 2017 fairly regularly, then kind of-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. Yeah.

Danielle Liss: … just realized didn’t care anymore.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: I was joking recently with somebody. I was like, “I remember when it was a whole thing when people were like, ‘You need to have a picture with every post.’” And I was like, “Too much work.”

Bjork Ostrom: Too much work. Too much work.

Danielle Liss: Remember that? That was like 2011.

Bjork Ostrom: Did you use Typeform at that point or?

Danielle Liss: I was Typeform. I started out on Blogspot.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Sure.

Danielle Liss: Was it Blogspot, Typeform, and then when I eventually moved to WordPress, I was like, “Ugh, this is just a lot.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So, I started out-

Bjork Ostrom: I’m sure a lot of people listening can resonate with that.

Danielle Liss: Yeah. I started out as a blogger and then it moved into speaking and working more with bloggers. I worked for a long time at CMO and General Counsel for an influencer network. So, I really got to know the ins and outs of sponsored content from kind of all sides at that point. And then I’ve really focused my legal career, both as outside and in-house counsel for about a year, working with digital, online businesses who are in this place where you’re creating a lot of content and that’s how you are bringing in business, whether it’s through affiliate marketing, sponsored content or really just expanding beyond that because I love that we’ve gotten there like for a long time, and I’m sure you remember these days, it was the main drivers for income were either ads or sponsored content.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: And I think that we have really gotten to this place now where it is such a robust industry that these are just pieces of the type of income that this sort of online business can bring in.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. One of the things that’s great about that is diversification. We talk about that and diversification, I think, brings with it some level of security where you know, “Hey, the ad network, if something changes, potentially all my money could go away.” It’s one of the reason within the TinyBit companies where there’s security for us is like, “Hey, we have subscriptions, we have software, we have membership, we have Pinch of Yum,” which is advertising and sponsored content. So, but what I hear you saying is that’s actually also shifting and changing for creators and publishers. Like not only is it just ads now and sponsored content, but you’re starting to see other areas of opportunity.

Bjork Ostrom: You see those because you work with the people who are creating those sources of revenue within their business, so you get kind of some insight into that. When you look at that kind of broad pie, the different pieces of the pie, you mentioned ad income, you mentioned sponsored content, which we’re all familiar with, what are some of those other areas that you see starting to develop and publishers and creators starting to really lean into?

Danielle Liss: Of course, affiliate marketing. I’m going to throw it in there just in case that’s not one of the main ones people think of, but I do think that people have gotten really creative with affiliate marketing in recent years. Like we’re past just having Amazon Associate links on things and I love that because people have done a really great job with it. I think what I see the most of is where people start… I feel like it’s almost a cycle that people go through. So it starts with ads and sponsored content and affiliate marketing. Then we start to move into digital products. A lot of the time, and especially in the food blogging world, this is typically your downloadable cookbooks, your ebooks. Then I start to see people move into courses, which I love. And then see people-

Bjork Ostrom: Why do you love courses, just out of curiosity?

Danielle Liss: I think that courses are a great way to bring in revenue. It’s such a great way to connect with your audience and to build trust with them. And I think that it often starts out with that digital piece of content. They want more connection. They want more of you. So then it’s like, “Okay, yeah, I’ll take a course with you.”

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: And then it’s often moving, I’m seeing a lot of folks who are moving into memberships for whatever their particular niche is. So, I think that it can be so much, and I especially love when I start to see people doing like higher-level consulting, whether it is for brands or for, in some other capacity. I’m also seeing a lot of folks who branch out into providing additional services. So, I see a lot of food bloggers who are offering food photography for brands or for local companies who are just they get that they need to have. I think that food bloggers have changed things around a little bit. It used to be, you look at a magazine and that’s where you would find that kind of content. And they it’s kind of become the expectation and the norm that your content is going to look really, really good and if it doesn’t, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to eat, make, deal with that.” So I think it’s-

Bjork Ostrom: It’s like Table stakes. It’s like what you need in order to play the game.

Danielle Liss: Exactly. And I think that it has become such an interesting industry to watch because I really do think we’ve seen so many dramatic changes. Like I remember when I was doing sponsored content reviews in 2011, 2012, and the pictures is just like, “Yeah, that’s dark and doesn’t look very appetizing.” And I just think about, if somebody took that exact same recipe and made it now be just like this feast for the eyes and then the video that can come with it it’s just… We’ve made so much progress. And I think that it has really impacted how we look for that content now. Like now, the old stuff is not passing anymore. We expect that level of quality.

Bjork Ostrom: And is your point with that brands are also recognizing that. And so, these skills that food photographers have developed there’s a market around that in selling those services and brands are saying, “Hey, we know that we need to have this level of quality, so we’re going to come to somebody who can produce that and hire them, not necessarily early in a sponsored content capacity, but as a creator to help us get that level of quality for our content.” Is that what you’re seeing?

Danielle Liss: Yes. I’m seeing it a lot and I love it. And I have so many people who are like, “I’ve got only two or three clients this past year, but I’m really hoping to get it to this amount.” And for some it’s a side hustle, I’ve seen a handful of folks who are making it really more of their full-time focus, where their blog then is becoming more of the side hustle and the food styling photography brand work like the direct with brand work, not meaning sponsored content that is becoming more of their full-time focus.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. It feels like it ties into this idea that we’ve talked about on the podcast before, which we call for lack of a better name, the egg carton method, but just this idea of thinking about, “Hey, where do I want to be in terms of the earnings from my site?” What would feel good for some people it’s like, “Hey, I want to have coffee money.” For other people, I remember having a conversation with Lindsay where I was like, “I think we could build this to the point where it would like cover our mortgage,” which at the time was for this like $70,000 condo. So, it was like 450 bucks a month. But at that time in our life, it was like, “This would be really, really impactful for us.” And there are some people who say, “I want to build this to be my career and the thing that I do and supports my family.” And saying like, “What does that need to be?”

Bjork Ostrom: A really easy example would be, let’s say $52,000, right? You want to make $1,000 a week. You could do that by getting enough page views to get you to $1,000 a week in ad earnings. Or you could say, “Hey, I want to book two gigs a year to working with a brand and maybe they’ll pay me $10,000 to do a top to bottom shoot of something or four gigs at $5,000,” whatever it might be. And you start to place these little eggs in the egg carton and to say, “How do I fill this up?” Maybe you earn a few thousand dollars from affiliate and $1,000 here from advertising. And I think it allows people to have some freedom and flexibility in how they think about filling that egg carton as opposed to being like, “I just need to find one huge egg.”

Bjork Ostrom: The egg is traffic and I monetize through ads. But with that, there’s still considerations that come in around kind of the strategy piece of it, the simplicity of ads and just ads is like, “Hey, you create free content, you put ads against it. You have a really simple business.” But then adding additional sources of revenue adds some layer of complexity. So, to bring it back around to the legal side, how do you see people pulling that off well in regards to adding additional sources of revenue? Let’s say you go from advertising to sponsored content to selling your own product, while also doing the business and legal side well, covering themselves with that. Is it like, “Hey, you just reach out to Danielle and say, ‘Help. I’m doing this. How do I do it well?’” Or how do you even go about doing it? What is the strategy with that?

Danielle Liss: So, I love the answer of yes, reach out to Danielle, that’s perfect.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: But I think that what the most important thing is, and I think this is something that you’ve been talking about on the podcast for years, know your strengths, know what you want to deal with, because I can tell you the first thing that I outsource on literally anything I do is bookkeeping.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: I don’t like it. Don’t want to touch it. Don’t want to do it. So I send it out. So, think about kind of where you fall in this? Do you want somebody to handle it for you? Do you want to DIY it? Because, and just remember DIY while you can buy templates, you can do a lot of different things, there’s still your time investment. And do you want to be an expert on all of these things or do you just want to be an expert on creating beautiful content? What I think is really important is as you add different things, and I really look at it as, as you add each different stream for monetization, what’s changing and what might you need to change? And it’s a matter of just asking yourself each time you’re adding something.

Danielle Liss: So, let’s say you start out with doing affiliate marketing. You want to make sure that you’ve got your website terms and conditions. You want to make sure that you understand how to disclose affiliate links. You want to make sure you’ve got the appropriate privacy policy in place. And then you’re kind of ready to go. There isn’t a lot that needs to go into it. Of course, you should also understand how to read affiliate terms so that you know what you’re getting into with the company, but it’s a relatively simple process. So, then let’s say you add an ad management service. Once you add that, what do you need to change? You’ve already got terms of service. Is anything changing there? Maybe you want to add some additional language about having ads on the site. What does that look like? You’re definitely going to want to make some changes to your privacy policy.

Danielle Liss: And if you’re using something like AdThrive or Mediavine, they are going to have language ready for you because they do this for all of their publishers. They know that it is coming. So you’re going to add that. Sponsored content, that is going to be a slightly different skillset that you’re learning because that’s all about reading the agreement and knowing those points where you are going to be able to negotiate in your favor or that you need to just clarify so that you have it appropriately set up with the brand. Or if you start adding products, same thing. You’re going to want to add privacy policy. Now, yes you’re going to make changes to your privacy policy, but you’re also going to add purchase policies because what does that look like? What do you want people to be able to do with your stuff when they buy it? Do you want them to be able to have the right to resell it? Probably not. So you want to make sure you’ve got the appropriate language on it and that you’re protecting rights there.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: So, each time you add something, just kind of think about, “Okay, what area might this impact?” And then you can look at it from whatever those small steps are to make sure that you either know it or that you can outsource it to someone who does know it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. There’s always this kind of risk-reward analysis that exists in that world where there’s risk on either side. There’s risk of spending money, that’s a risk, but there’s also risk of exposure. Like you don’t have things set up correctly and there’s risk there. And so, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact point where it’s like, “Hey, it makes sense at this point to do this thing in regards to legal.” But what I will say is I think if you think of the spectrum of business officialness, I think sometimes because the internet can be such a scrappy place, like, “Hey, you can spin up a blog and you’re off and running and you can publish content and put ads on it.” And all of that can happen without a lot of checks and balances. But I like to think of kind of the spectrum of businesses. And let’s say you’re creating a restaurant, you’d have to go through a lot of different approvals. You’d have to have inspections.

Bjork Ostrom: And I like the idea of encouraging creators to err on the side of more official and as much as possible, you don’t want to spend all of your money just on all of the backend stuff. Like you need to buy gear for photography and whatnot, but the investment into the officialness of your business is a wise investment just to introduce that layer of protection. And for you to know like, “Hey, this is an official thing that you’re doing and you’re doing it well.” And I feel like a great example is setting up an official LLC, like doing that right the first time when you’re splitting up your business it’s going to pay dividends down the line versus kind of DIYing that process.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think it also encourages you in that like, “Hey, you’ve invested into this.” Like you put money into it and maybe makes it a little bit easier to say, “You know what, I’m actually going to work this weekend instead of taking it off because I’ve invested into it.” Like is often the case with courses and you can also go really deep on it. And that’s one of the things that we’re going to do right now is go deep on an area called CCPA. So, this is something that’s come up, people are familiar with it. It’s always hard to know like how official do I take this? Like on the spectrum of business official, do I spend thousands of dollars trying to figure this out? Do I copy and paste something in my privacy policy? Do I need to do other stuff? So what is CCPA and kind of what’s going on in that world right now?

Danielle Liss: Okay. So, I’m going to give you a little bit of history before I get into defining it. So, what we have seen in terms of data collection and data privacy, I think is something a lot of people are familiar are with and we’re used to looking at it from kind of the big guys, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: Facebook, Amazon, Google, they’re the ones who I think got the attention for what are they doing with our stuff? So, in…

Bjork Ostrom: Our stuff being our data, like the information they have on us.

Danielle Liss: Our data. Yes. Just think about didn’t Facebook just recently turn off facial recognition unless you say it’s okay.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Something like that. Yeah, I don’t remember specifically.

Danielle Liss: I think that’s kind of some of the things that are coming from it, people are a little bit concerned about the power of artificial intelligence. They’re concerned about how their data’s being used. And I think that there have been perhaps some suspicious activities in the past based upon people’s data. So, what we are seeing a lot of right now in terms of legislation is places are trying to give people instead of companies a little more control over what happens with their data and to let them know that there are standards in place. And we really started with GDPR in 2018. That was probably the first time a lot of people really thought about it. We knew we needed privacy policy most likely, but it was just sort of this thing that people had and I don’t think anyone really thought about why or what was behind it. So, 2018 GDPR became effective in May. That was a fun time.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you remind people for those who either forgot or weren’t involved at that time, what GDPR is?

Danielle Liss: It’s the General Data Protection Regulation and it is the European Union’s answer to data control. And the goal of that legislation was exactly what I said, that idea of people need to understand and have control over what happens. So, that was kind of our first foray into dealing with it. Now, even though it’s an EU law, depending upon who your audience is and what you’re collecting data-wise, a lot of US companies still needed to be GDPR compliant. So, there was this period in May of 2018 where everybody’s like, “Why am I getting all these privacy policy notices?” And I’m like, “That’s my life right now.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.

Danielle Liss: And so, we were all trying to update privacy policies, understand if it was going to impact us. And it seemed like this massive ordeal. Now, if you’re a company like Amazon or Facebook, it has been a massive ordeal. I think that they fined, believe it was Amazon like hundreds of millions of dollars for violations. I can’t remember what the Facebook fine was. But it’s like they’re the ones that they’re going after presently.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: Then we now have in the US sort of reactions to that and CCPA is one of those. So, because we don’t have a federal law related to data and privacy and I’m going to put out this with a very hopeful yet because I really, really want one.

Bjork Ostrom: It makes your job a little bit easier and everybody who’s creating content online or are running any business online.

Danielle Liss: It really would because quite honestly, for companies that are local, like it might not be as much of an impactful area, but for bloggers, you’ve got people from everywhere potentially looking at your site, so you got to have all the things in there. So, it’s really hard to keep track when you’ve got to deal with state after state with different legislation. And that’s kind of what we’re dealing with now. California was really, and California honestly is often at the forefront of legislation. They are often the first state to do things. They were the first state who had required privacy policies in the first place. And so, CCPA is the California Consumer Protection Act. And the goal there, it’s very similar to GDPR, except that it’s opposite where they wanted people to have more knowledge, understanding and transparency of how their data was being used.

Danielle Liss: And the reason I say it’s opposite, so GDPR was opt-in. So you had to give permission for somebody to be able to use your data, whereas California is opposite in that it’s opt-out. So, there you notify people what you are doing with the data and they can then say, “Oh no, don’t do that.” So, you’ve got to have some different mechanisms, which that was my favorite part of this whole thing was like, “Why can’t you just be… Couldn’t you just copied that?” No. Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Like idea being it’s a totally separate, the spirit of law is the same, but the way that they’re pulling it off is completely different.

Danielle Liss: Yep.

Bjork Ostrom: And so people are having to create a new process potentially in order to adhere to the regulation.

Danielle Liss: Exactly. And they also have certain definitions in there that I think people found confusing. So, they said, “If you sell data, then you have to be compliant if you fall under the category of business that we define business to mean.” And everybody’s like, “I don’t sell data.” Except when you read their definition, it’s literally anything that happens with the data. It’s basically sharing, giving it to another partner like think of whomever does your email newsletter. Like they would view that as a sale under the definition. So, it became extremely confusing for people saying, “I didn’t think I needed this, but I guess I kind of do.” And the way that they have it defined is you are considered a business under the law if you meet three different criteria. First is if you make $25 million a year and quite honestly, I want that for every single person who is listening to this podcast, I don’t know if many people are there yet.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: But I want that for them.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: The next one is if, basically what I call data brokers, like you are literally the people who are gathering the data and selling it off to someone else. That is the type of transactions that you’re involved in.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: Then there’s this third area that gets a little more confusing and it’s collecting data from individuals in California and they set that number at 50,000. So, this is where it can become important to start to know who your audience is, because if you’ve got 50,000 visitors from California each year, then you do need to be CCPA compliant. For most people-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s per year, you said?

Danielle Liss: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Danielle Liss: So, for most people, it’s a matter of knowing your data, knowing who your audience is and then knowing what it is you’re collecting and who you’re sending it to and what the exceptions are. One thing that a lot of folks will say, and I’m on that bandwagon about CCPA is it was a hastily cobbled-together piece of legislation.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: They made a lot of changes to it. And there are changes that are going to go in next year. So, if you’re familiar with California’s elections at all, California does ballot initiatives. So, a ballot initiative passed that is now going to be called CPRA, which is the California Privacy Rights Act. I know. There’s…

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. It’s the evolution of CCPA.

Danielle Liss: Yes. It’s essentially amendments and people say that it expanded it. However, it’s also changing that definition of what is considered a business. So, even though there are more things that people need to be concerned with, the whole thing that I think most bloggers are looking at is, “Do I count as a business under this?” So then it’s going to go up to 100,000 California residents. So, that’s where it really does get a little bit different. So, you may be under it now, but you might not have to be next year.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: My view on it is if you’re already doing it at 50,000, I mean the hope is your traffic is going to continue to increase and grow. I would keep it, but if you’re looking at it now saying, “What do I do with this?”

Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: Just know that it is traffic-based, but it does impact what you need to do in terms of if you need to give people the ability to opt-out. And you also need to make sure that you’ve got the appropriate information within your privacy policy.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So, privacy policy update makes sense. That would be something that you would either go to an attorney to help with or like if somebody purchased like a template, would that have it? I know that you have Businessese, would that have a CCPA or CCPR, C… What is it? CPRA?

Danielle Liss: All right. I know. Too many, it’s CPRA. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, block in it that would cover people for that in the privacy policy?

Danielle Liss: Yes. I can only speak really for Businessese because obviously there are templates that I have created, but we do have it in there and we try to make it accessible so that you understand like, “Do I actually need this or don’t I?”

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Danielle Liss: Because for private policy purposes, it’s not that over the top, it’s really like the goal of your privacy policy is always going to be more or less what information do you collect? What information do you share? Who do you share it with and how are you using it? It’s how people need to understand from your privacy policy what’s happening. So, the way that the law is structured is they have different categories that things fall into and it might be information like your name and address, or it might be things that they consider sensitive information, which are things like gender, employment status, things like that. Then it gets into things that I don’t think most bloggers are into, but I reserve the right to change that opinion where it’s like the biogenetic type information.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah-

Danielle Liss: And I think that would be like, assuming…

Bjork Ostrom: … probably not a lot of…

Danielle Liss: … I assume like…

Bjork Ostrom: … food bloggers collecting that. Yeah.

Danielle Liss: … Yeah, fingerprint scam type of things, I assume. So, there’s that type of piece of it where you’re just like, “I definitely don’t collect those things.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So, it’s really just a matter of knowing. And I think that’s really what so much of the privacy laws are about. You need to have a basic understanding of what is installed on your site and what you’re collecting and what you’re doing with it. And that might be through plugins, things that you’re directly collecting. Like let’s say you’ve got a digital product, you’re getting somebody’s payment information at some point in that process. So where do you get it? Most of the time, I’m going to say the general big two are Stripe and PayPal. So, it’s going to be Stripe and PayPal who are processing. So, you’re technically never getting that information. You’re getting the money and you might get like last four digits or some other transaction information, but you’re not actually holding financial information for them. So, in that case, you just let people know, “I use the following people to process as payments come in and here’s what happens to it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. And the numbers, would you just look at Google Analytics for that? Like, “Hey, in the last 12 months,” or I suppose it’s on an annual basis, but like generally speaking a site like WP Tasty probably wouldn’t have a 100,000 or maybe even 50,000, it’s a smaller traffic site, whereas Pinch of Yum would. So that would be, if we look at Google Analytics and see, “Hey, we had 50,000 users, visitors from California,” then we would be considered a business that would be doing business in California. Is that how it works?

Danielle Liss: Then you would be considered a business who has to follow the wall there because it’s the California residents that you’re looking at. So, if you’ve got 50,000 California folks who have visited and I do say just dive into Google Analytics and see what you have, because I think that for some folks, like if you have a very, very localized audience and you’re not in California, so if you have like a little bit of traffic from there, and even though you have a larger amount of traffic that’s coming in, depending upon where that falls, then you might not need to be as concerned with it. Like if you know you’ve got like mostly East Coast or wherever the case might be, then it might be less of a concern. I always say, have it on your radar because unfortunately without federal privacy legislation in place, again, please let me have that.

Danielle Liss: We are also going to be looking at other states because as I said, California’s usually first. So we have other states that are probably going to be enacting similar laws and they might not have the exact same definitions.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: So, it’s going to be-

Bjork Ostrom: Tricky.

Danielle Liss: … interesting to try to keep track of.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Danielle Liss: And I want to put out there, I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed by this. It is, I don’t think that the purpose and the spirit of these laws is to come after bloggers.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah. Right.

Danielle Liss: I don’t think that that is the case. Now, there is always going to be mechanisms for reporting problem sites and things like that. However, I think it’s important to make sure that to the best of your ability you have followed and tried to keep track. And then just most of the time the legislation’s going to go into effect beginning of the year. So just kind of take a look at it, say maybe November, December, where can you find resources on what is going to be taking effect? Or if you’ve already got policies and templates that you’ve purchased, do they offer updates that make it easy for you to find out what’s happening?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And then what do you actually do? You have this update in your privacy policy, but then you’re actually having to do something to adhere to the regulations, what is it that you’re actually doing?

Danielle Liss: Usually, you’re giving people rights to do certain things. So they can with California, for example, they have a specific format that they have to follow, where they can send in a request to find out what information you have, what you’ve done with it? And that’s somewhat similar to GDPR. So, with GDPR, the right to delete is a good example of one of the things that they offer. So, with the right to delete, you could send in a request and say, “I basically want my data wiped from your servers. I want this to go away.” I, one time had somebody from the EU send me that request for GDPR and I was like, “Okay, I’m happy to do that, but you’re going to lose access to the thing that you purchased. Do you still want to move forward?” So, sometimes it can be a conversation. It’s like, “I’m happy to remove it from an email list, like any type of marketing materials but do you want to lose access to this thing?”

Danielle Liss: And if they’ve already downloaded what they’ve got, then fine. Then it’s not a big deal, but it’s just sometimes you need to make sure you know exactly how that might impact them and you want to be transparent about that. It’s like, “I am happy to do this for you. I want to honor your request. However, here’s the thing.” And so, in your privacy policy will also have in there, like how they exercise those specific rights.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Danielle Liss: It’s usually going to be an email or sometimes you can include a mailing address. The other piece for California is you need to have something that’s essentially if you need to be CCPA compliant, there should be a button on the site that says, “Do not sell my information.” And most websites had a California residents going, “Do not sell my information.” And then they can click on the site and it all depends on what’s truly being sold and if it falls into the definition of a sale. The most common thing right now, I think is for ad networks. And most of the ad networks, they’re actually providing code for whatever button they have that allows people to opt out of it.

Bjork Ostrom: And is that only displaying to California residents? Do you know?

Danielle Liss: Nope. Honestly, that I don’t know because I haven’t played with that piece of the technology. I think that it may, but that I’m going to have to again say I’m not certain there.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Yeah. Because I’m curious, it might be one of those things where it’s like you buy a red car and then you suddenly see red cars everywhere where like I feel like I’m so… I just essentially see accept cookies, yeah, accept cookies or after a year, close out.

Danielle Liss: And remember in 2018-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right.

Danielle Liss: … that was the thing. The cookie bars weren’t there in 2018, like in my mind, cookie bar met a very tasty dessert, not-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Exactly.

Danielle Liss: … like this thing that has become ubiquitous at this stage. And GDPR really is the reason why we have come to see those cookie bars and just not even think about it. And people were really, really concerned when they had to first install those. And I don’t know if you remember that, people were just like, “That’s going to drive traffic away. That’s not going to work. That’s going to be awful.” And now it is as commonplace as can be just okay-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: … people go on their way.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. So, takeaways from that, when we’re thinking about CCPA and CPRA, did I get that right?

Danielle Liss: Got it. Good job.

Bjork Ostrom: Is you need to make sure that number one, if there’s those three checks where $25 million are over, it’s probably not going to be a lot of people listening to it. And then the second one was, remind me, what that one was?

Danielle Liss: Basically the data brokers.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Like somebody who’s brokering data, probably not anybody who’s listening to this podcast. The third one high potential for people listening to the podcast, which would be in a year, are you getting over 100,000 users, visitors, California residents who are using your site? If that’s true, technically you need to be CCPA compliant or in 2023. Is that when the CPRA will pass?

Danielle Liss: Yeah. 2023, it’s January 1 is when it’s effective. I think I’ve seen some things that say it’s going to be retroactive, but my view on being retroactive, like there are expansions to the act that are in there. So, I think that’s really the bigger concern, but right now, if you’re already CCPA compliant, because you’ve got 50,000, you should be good to go for the 100,000 except for… Like I know that for example, one of the things that they’ve created a new category for is like certain sensitive information like your social security number. And I’m going to wager that most food bloggers are probably not getting anywhere close to collecting things in that category.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: So, it may be that there will be some updates that you would make to your privacy policy, but it’s really the thresholds that I think are going to be the most concerning for most folks, because it’s really complying isn’t that big of a deal. What’s the bigger deal is, “Do I need to?” That’s usually the thing, I think more people are getting hung up on.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. So, I can see with Pinch of Yum when I pull up our privacy policy, additional rights of California residents, I’m sure you updated this for us, but right to access, right to delete, deletion, right to non-discrimination, how to submit a verifiable consumer request and then there’s actually a Nevada one. So, is that an example of another state that has created their own sub-requirements?

Danielle Liss: I’m in Nevada, so I can pick on us. So, the Nevada piece, it’s a nice-to-have in there and it is something that I’ve got in the template over at Businessese, but I think that for most people, it isn’t necessarily applicable for blogging because the way they’ve defined sale and selling data to be different than what’s in California. Again, I love when the definitions of the same word can be completely different in legislation.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Makes your job…

Danielle Liss: Yeah, it’s fun.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: But there are certainly other laws that are pending that I think are going to be a little more similar to California and that’s really going to be the biggest thing for the next year that’s what’s on my radar is, “Okay, who am I watching now? What are we going to be updating in Q4 so that we are ready for any 2023 effective dates?”

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. That makes sense. And so, if people are working with an ad network, the nice thing is that those ad networks as far as you’re aware are building that option in, being that they are involved with data and the use of data on a marketplace and selling that, but they have that built in and whether it’s triggering based on geolocation or not TBD good to know.

Danielle Liss: Yes. As far as I have seen, they have been providing great stuff. So when I work with people on the law firm side as opposed to the template side, usually one of my first questions to them is, “Which ad manager are you using?” And when they tell me, it’s like, “Okay, here’s the information we’re going to pop in for that?”

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One of the things you had said at the beginning of the episode, which I wasn’t clear on is you said internal versus external, your internal with some companies or outside, internal and outside, I think was the language you used. What is the difference between those two things?

Danielle Liss: For the type of service, so I right now serve primarily, you mean how I work with people?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And I think you had referred to working internally and-

Danielle Liss: In-house. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: In-house and outside, that’s what it was.

Danielle Liss: So, working outside, that’s typically what I do now, because I have a law firm and I represent clients that way. And a lot of times, even then I’m acting as essentially what would be their general counsel without being an employee there. I also went in-house for about a year, which means I was an employee of the company that I was working with. And that was a lot of fun because it was kind of as the shift from like low eight-figure business to much higher eight-figure business. And it was-

Bjork Ostrom: Point being, it was a business that was scaling pretty significantly.

Danielle Liss: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: Pretty intense ride but it was a really cool period of learning just a lot behind the scenes. Like I can tell you CCP… Because that was right before… It was primarily 2019 that I was there. So it was as CCPA was going to be effective.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So I spent a lot of time with that one.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s one of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about in that is… This is maybe a good transition to talk about some of the services you offer. But we talk a lot about, and you mentioned this, like working in your area of maximum output, but also maximum enjoyment. And there’s lots of different tools that you can use to figure out what that looks like. Michael Hyatt has one that he talks about in a book that I just read, but it’s about your desire zone. Like what are the things you are best at and that you enjoy the most? And then building a team around you for those other things.

Bjork Ostrom: And one of the things that we’ve been thinking about even as a team is like, “How do all of us continually do that better? How do we think about, ‘Here are the things I’m really good at, here are the things that I want to do more and here’s how we can bring somebody in to support me in the areas that I’m not good at and I don’t want to be good at or potentially that I want to be good at, but I’m not good at.’” The legal side of it is a huge piece of that. And I love the idea of thinking about you have a blog, you have a business and you kind of have these fractional roles. You have your fractional in-house attorney. It’s not actually somebody who’s in-house, but we have that with the CFO that we work with, Pat, who’s awesome.

Bjork Ostrom: He probably works 10 hours a week, I think on average for us. But he knows the business. We go to him with all our finance stuff and my encouragement to anybody listening would be to think about ways that you can continually build out those areas that you don’t want to be using your brain space on and becoming super routers over time. So, something comes in, it’s a contract. Who do you route it to? I think a lot of times, people are in the mindset of something comes in. It’s a contract. Put the breaks on, stop, get out of the car, review the contract, but you would just want to keep the momentum going, so people need to become super routers for that stuff that stops their momentum, legal being one of those. And I know that’s been a huge support for us as we’ve worked together over the years to say, “Hey, we’re not going to spend a bunch of time reviewing contracts. Send this to Danielle. Send this to Liss Legal and have her take a look at it.”

Bjork Ostrom: So what does that look like if somebody’s interested in working with you to be there kind of back office attorney or maybe a better way to say that is like a resource for them as they run into these legal issues? And then if they don’t have the ability to do that, you have kind of the DIY option as another play for people.

Danielle Liss: Sure. So, so when it comes to working with an attorney, this is something that I’ve become incredibly passionate about because I think that a lot of times it’s hard to put on that business owner cap, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: Like you don’t want to send it out or you think, “Oh, I’m just going to ask somebody.” And then you end up with a lawyer you don’t particularly like, and you don’t feel like they get your business, and then you don’t want to deal with them because you just don’t want to. And so, I think it’s really important as your business grows to do either a periodic checkup or just to find somebody that you can have. And it doesn’t necessarily mean having somebody on retainer, meaning you’re paying them without using them. I think that you can enter into relationships where it’s like, “I’m going to need you periodically.” Like, let’s say, you know that Q4 is going to be intense. So you think Q3 is when the contracts are going to be coming in.

Danielle Liss: And just say, “Here are my needs. This is what my business looks like.” One thing that I would encourage you even if you’re relatively early in your journey. And this is one of my absolute favorite things that I get to do with clients is a strategy session. I had one a couple of weeks ago for somebody who is about to start her food blog and said, “I just want to make sure that I know what I’m looking at because I don’t know what I don’t know.” And so, the goal there, you get 30 minutes to kind of, as the adage goes and I think it’s so weird and gross-sounding, but to pick somebody’s brain about the question that you have, and I think that’s a really good way to go into it, but it also gives you peace of mind knowing you’ve got the answers, but it also kind of is like a test scenario where you can go in and say, “Okay, yeah, I did click with this person. I can see when those contracts start coming in, I can go to them.”

Danielle Liss: So, those are some options that I offer and I absolutely, I adore it. I love working with bloggers and I love seeing how the industry has continued to change and how these businesses have grown and they are becoming such powerhouses in their industries. And I just think it’s so impressive.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So, if you need a lawyer and you want to talk to somebody I’m happy to do so. I even have a special URL that I came up with recently because I’m URL buyer. So you can go to foodbloglawyer.com.

Bjork Ostrom: There you go.

Danielle Liss: So, because I love the food bloggers so much and I’ve had the pleasure of working with them over the years or Liss Legal is my firm. And if you do want to DIY, Businessese offers templates that really are there for bloggers and influencers because I know it’s hard sometimes when you’re like, “I want to buy a privacy policy, but I don’t know if they deal with bloggers or if this is meant just more for a small business that has a website.” Because your needs are going to be different just because of the type of information you’re collecting, particularly if you’re doing sponsored content and ads and things like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s great. Your work has been super helpful for us. Like I said, it’s really nice for us to know when something comes in, where do we route that to? And that’s just such a wonderful thing to have somebody who’s like great. We have Pat helps with finances, Danielle who helps with legal. So, it’s been a huge help. And I know that these now seven different podcast episodes you’ve done are always helpful for people as well to get a pulse on what’s happening. So thanks for coming on Danielle really appreciate it.

Danielle Liss: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Leslie Jeon: Hello, hello. Leslie here from the Food Flogger Pro team. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode and we really hope that you enjoyed it. Before we sign off, I wanted to mention a really exciting live event that we have coming up on April 14th and it’s a live Q&A all about keyword research with Food Flogger Pro expert, Casey Markee. So, he’s going to be joining Bjork to answer all of your questions about keyword research during this live Q&A. So, normally our live Q&As are actually exclusively for Food Blogger Pro members only, but this one is live to everyone, to the entire public. So whether you’re a member or not, we really would encourage you to come if you really want to learn more about keyword research and SEO, it’s just going to be a fantastic time. So, if you’d like to get registered, the Q&A is going to be on April 14th at 4:00 PM Eastern, 3:00 PM Central, and you can get registered by going to foodbloggerpro.com/keyword. And there you’ll be able to register by putting in your name, your email, and a question you have about keyword research.

Leslie Jeon: So maybe you’re wondering how to get started, or you have a specific question about domain authority or search volume, you can ask all of those questions and then we’ll be really excited to hit all of them in as much as we can during the Q&A. So again, you can get registered by going to foodbloggerpro.com/keyword and we can’t wait to see you there on April 14th.

Leslie Jeon: All right. That’s all we’ve got for you in today’s episode. Thanks again for tuning in and until next time, make it a great week.

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