099: Sponsored Content and Getting Paid What Your Work is Worth with Danielle Liss

Welcome to episode 99 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks with Danielle Liss from Hashtag Legal about how you can create solid sponsored content.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked Ashley McLaughlin from Edible Perspective about becoming a full-time freelance food photographer. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Sponsored Content and Getting Paid What Your Work is Worth

If you do sponsored content, you know how much work a campaign can be. From developing the recipe to aligning with the brand’s goals, many considerations go into creating solid sponsored content for a brand.

From understanding FTC guidelines to knowing the legal disclaimers all blogs should have on their sites, Danielle and her business partner cover it all at their practice, Hashtag Legal. While most bloggers want to focus on the creative side of their businesses, it’s important to have a handle on the business and legal side of things as well. Danielle saw this as an opportunity to help get bloggers to the point where they’re comfortable with pricing their work and structuring their businesses.

In this episode, Danielle shares:

  • How influencer networks work
  • Why you should understand a brand’s goal for sponsored content
  • How to come up with your sponsored post rate and why it should be fluid
  • Why you should be paying attention to your Cost Per Engagement
  • Why you should be doing campaign reports
  • Why case studies are important
  • How to solidify a strong pitch
  • What type of business entity you can set up for your blog
  • Why you should have a Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Disclaimer

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

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If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.


Bjork Ostrom: Hey there! Bjork here. So this is actually the intro to the intro. We’ve done this once before in the podcast. Depending on how you look at it, it might actually be the intro to the intro, which is the intro to the intro. Right? It’s like three intros deep, but I wanted to jump in here real quick to let you know that if you are listening to this the day the podcast episode has come out, it would a Tuesday. Depending on where you are, it would be Tuesday the 23rd. If you are listening to it on this day, that means there’s still time for you to leave a voicemail and to be on our next episode, which is Episode #100. All that you have to do is go to foodbloggerpro[dot]com/Record. There will be a little “Record” button there and instructions for what you can do, but essentially what we want to know is we want to know who you are, what your blog is if you have a Blogger website, and we’d love to hear your favorite Food Blogger Pro podcast episode and why.

More than anything, we just want hear from you, but it’s also a great way to let other users know and other listeners know about the other incredible podcasts that are out there, because my guess is that if you listen to this, you probably haven’t listened to every single podcast. Maybe some of you dedicated listeners have, but not everybody. So we want to let people know on this Episode #100 the other awesome episodes that you can listen to, and you can do that by going to foodbloggerpro[dot]com/Record.

Okay, now the real intro.

In this episode, we talk to Danielle Liss from Hashtag Legal about advice on pricing when it comes to sponsored content, what type of business structure you should have for your blog, and the legal essentials that every blog should have in place.

Hey everybody! It’s Bjork Ostrom. We’re coming to you today with another fresh episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. This is a great one. It has some really, really important elements that you need to implement and understand if you’re going to be building your blog as a business. We are talking to Danielle Liss from Hashtag Legal, and she has a ton of experience working both in the legal field but also specifically the legal field as it pertains to blogging and influencer marketing. Those are two really important topics for you, because if you’re listening to this, chances are you have a blog or in some way, shape, or form, you are an influencer.

So I’m really excited to jump into this podcast interview with Danielle, but before we do, I wanted to let you know that we are coming up to an enrollment period for Food Blogger Pro. If you have not yet signed up for the waiting list, I would encourage you to do that by going to foodbloggerpro.com. When you’re there, you’ll be able to see the experts that we have, and these are people that are able to jump into the Food Blogger Pro forums and interact with members, and Danielle is actually our newest Food Blogger Pro expert. We had a big hole in the legal area. We wanted somebody that understood these really important concepts that we’re going to be talking about today. So she’s come on board, and she’s one of the new experts.

So when you go to foodbloggerpro.com, you can do two things: Number one, sign up for the waiting list. You’ll see a big button to sign up there, and we’ll notify you when we open enrollment soon. The second thing that you can do is look at the experts page. You can see the different people that we work with there in the experts. It’s foodbloggerpro.com/Experts, and you can check it out on that page. So let’s go ahead right now and jump into this interview. I would get your pencil out, because there’s going to be some important note taking that you can do during this interview with Danielle. Let’s go ahead and jump in. Danielle, welcome to the podcast.

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

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, this is one of the conversations that I’m really excited to have, and I know that you’re excited to have it. I’ve talked to you a little bit about this over the past week since we’ve connected. Other people might not be excited until we get into it, because I think there’ll some great content that we can pull out from it. So to kick things off here, why don’t you explain a little bit of what Hashtag Legal is and how you got into it?

Danielle Liss: Absolutely, so once upon a time, I was a lawyer in private practice. For anybody who knows me, I was doing construction law and it was not, let’s just say, the right fit for my brain. I had started speaking at conferences for bloggers, because I was doing a lot of contract work, and so I knew that world, and really got into the legal side of blogging. I left private practice to work for an influencer network. I was there for four years, absolutely loved it. I was Chief Marketing Officer and General Counsel while I was there, and I met my now business partner at a conference, and we said, “We really think that there is something missing in this space right now, and that is accessible legal information for content creators, networks, brands who are working with influencers, who really know that world.

That was really where Hashtag Legal was born, out of us recognizing that we have this certain skill set, and let’s take it to people and give influencers what they need. Because let’s face it, and I laughed when you intro’d me, the legal stuff can be daunting. I know that. I know. So what our goal is to make things a little bit more accessible so that people don’t fear handling that side of their business.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and one of the things that we’ll get into as well that I think is exciting is talking about some of the contract stuff, which doesn’t sound exciting, but also your experience with talking to brands and doing some of the negotiation as well. So all of that stuff’s super valuable for people. A couple of questions about what you just talked about: You talked about being part of an influencer network. What influencer network was that?

Danielle Liss: I was with FitFluential from really very early. I think it had been founded in April, and I joined. I took officially the role of CMO in August of that year, and so I was there when we were all still kind of working full-time jobs just trying to get it off the ground until I was able to leave and work full time. So my role there, because we were a very small team, and of course when you’ve got a small team and you’re in startup mode, you handle a lot of different things.

So really my job was once the sales team sold a campaign, I saw it from essentially start to finish on the influencer side. So I was responsible for managing the full campaign, working with the clients, and that could include things like selecting influencers, working with them on talking points, getting the content out, talking about how to frame that content, dealing with client concerns, so if the brands had concerns about what was in the content or what they wanted to see more of, and also doing things like reporting, setting budgets, doing all the negotiation. That was all part of my role at the time. So I really got my hands into it to see what influencers were doing, but also it gave me a very different perspective than just coming at it as a blogger, because I was seeing it and getting direct feedback from the brands and agencies that we worked with as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it seems like one of those things where you are thrown into the fire, and it’s like, “Okay, I’m in it, and now I’m going to figure this out as I get into it.” I would imagine that it’s a pretty intense job in terms of managing the relationships and the content between brands and influencers.

Danielle Liss: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: One thing I wanted to ask real quick before we get too far down the trail: For those that aren’t familiar … I think a lot of people will be familiar … but what is an influencer network?

Danielle Liss: An influencer network, really, it’s a very specialized type of agency. If you were working in the content world, and you think of an agency, you may think, “Oh, I’ve with Edelman,” or, “Oh, I’ve worked with FleishmanHillard,” and they may come to mind as agencies. But networks really are agencies as well, but they’re very specialized in that they take a group of influencers that they work with, and they represent that group to a brand or an agency, because we work directly with agencies as well, to help them work on specifically the influencer marketing side-

Bjork Ostrom: -Got it-

Danielle Liss: -Of what they need to have promoted.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So they may have an agency who works on things like their overall PR and other types of placement, but then that same agency may come and say, “Hey, you know what? We really want to do a campaign with some influencers to see how we can get this positioned for a new product launch that we have.”

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So in this case, FitFluential, obviously they’re going to be working in the fitness space, so they reach out, and they connect with influencers, whether social media or maybe they have a blog with a following or YouTube. They build up their … Would they call it a portfolio, or what would that be in terms of their group of influencers? Just their influencer network, maybe?

Danielle Liss: Yeah, we had an ambassador network.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Danielle Liss: So people would apply to be ambassadors. We would kind of review everything, and for a while, I was hand-reviewing every single person who applied. I think that probably, oh my gosh, except for the very first batch of 74 people on through, I’m guessing that I reviewed about 3,000+ people at the time to see what their stuff looked like, were they the right fit, kind of getting them on-boarded, and then we would build up that. Then we could take it to brands and say, “Okay, what kind of campaign are you looking to do? What are your goals? What are your key performance indicators (or KPIs)? Tell us what you want to achieve,” and then our goal would be match them with the right people in our network to help them really position their product and content well to get the best possible result.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yeah, it’s interesting to think about all of the different people potentially that could be involved with it, because you have … In this case, it’s FitFluential, the influencer network. They might be connected with a PR agency, so there might be somebody that’s managing a PR campaign, which is then connected to the brand, right?

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Which also the influencer then is involved, so lots of different points along the way, but it’s interesting to see this rise of influencer networks as it becomes more and more of a legitimate and effective channel for marketing.

Danielle Liss: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the questions that I had for you specific to the application process: I’m curious to know, being that you looked at hundreds and hundreds of thousands of different applications, what were the things that you looked for with the content creators or the bloggers or the influencers that were applying? When did you know you looked at one and you said, “Oh, this is somebody who’s going to be a really good influencer”?

Danielle Liss: There’s probably three main things: Number one, good content. Nothing speaks more highly than good content. If you want to call yourself a food blogger, and don’t want to go and see kind of a mess on the blog. You may have the best recipe in the world, but how you present that matters. So we were always looking for good content, good storytelling. Because the story that you tell about the product is critical. Within that, kind of a subset of that would be looking at their existing sponsored content, if they have a history, to make sure that they tell the same kind of story when they’re working with a brand that they do when they’re not. Because some people, I think, they lose their personal voice as soon as something is sponsored, and that’s not the kind of result that we would want.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: So authenticity, engagement was absolutely critical. I think that being able to see that people are coming to your posts and interacting with them, that was really important. Of course at the time we were starting, comments were still the form of currency in terms of engagement, but we really did see a shift as more people moved to mobile, and as sharing plugins became much more prominent, I think we have seen that that has shifted to people talking on other channels and sharing being the main kind of currency for engagement.

So I think that those were the most important, but the other thing was within every niche in the blogging world, I think you’ve got your superstars that people know about. So if you’re a fashion blogger, you know those fashion superstars. If you’re a food blogger, you know the food superstars. What we wanted to see was a level of authenticity, that they had their own voice, and they weren’t just trying to be someone else, because that never really worked out. If somebody wanted to say, “Oh, I’m going to be the next Pinch of Yum,” that’s not … Sure, they may get some work, but until they really figure out what they have to offer that’s separate from trying to be somebody else, that was a really big thing for us too.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we talk about that occasionally on the podcast, this idea that one of the biggest competitive advantages that you can have is your personality and your story.

Danielle Liss: For sure.

Bjork Ostrom: The great thing is everybody has that, right? It doesn’t have to be something that you replicate from somebody else in terms of trying to replicate their story or even their voice. It’s really about finding your own story and finding your own voice and then leaning into that. I think a lot of times what it requires is that you’re 120% of who you are. Right? So like your online version is an amped-up version of who you are, maybe a really crystal-clear version of that. But I think it’s interesting to say that from the influencer marketing side, because it makes a lot of sense. Right? You want somebody that’s going to be speaking to their audience in a unique way. They’re going to be speaking to a certain group of people that are following them because of what they say and how they say it as opposed to trying to replicate something else. So it makes a lot of sense.

How about on the other side, if we look towards the brand side of things? So a brand comes to you, and they’re working with you, and they have a certain budget, what are the things that … Are they looking for the same things, or would they maybe lean more towards numbers that they want to bring back and say, “Hey, we would love to report back to our CMO within our company and say we had 10,000 impressions,” or do you feel like brands are at the point now where they’re starting to understand engagement in more of a abstract way?

Danielle Liss: I think they are. I think that when we first started out, it was we didn’t know how to measure, and I mean that for the entire industry. Because it was something that was brand-new, no one really knew what results we were looking for. We may have had a brand at that point come to us and say, “The goal that I have my key performance indicator for this is to appear on 50 blogs. That’s what my CMO wants to see from me.” Whereas over time that morphed, and we did see a big emphasis on page views. Page views was where it was at for so long, so everybody had the formulas, “This is how much I’m going to charge based on what my page views are.”

I can tell you story. We had one campaign that was a really … It was a big national campaign. Somebody came to us. They got a very handsome payment, because it was more based on page views, and the performance was not there. So after a while, we started to look and say, “You know what? We need to kind of fix this,” because page views don’t always align with actual performance, and especially now with Pinterest. I think that what happens is you may have amazing page views, but it’s coming from a few key posts that do really well with Pins. So the key now is to make sure that you are getting engagement and that it will be a message that resonates with the audience. You can’t try to fit something into a blog that if you’re looking at it, you’re like, “Okay, how can I get Pinch of Yum to really fit into this story about a rental car?”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: How can I make that make sense in a recipe? They’re driving the food somewhere? If you can figure out how to tell the story so that the audience buys it, great. But if you can’t, then that’s really the key factor. You need to know that that influencer can tell the story of that product, but also … And this is something that is becoming … I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this to people when I talk to them. It’s important for influencers to go into the conversation knowing what the brand’s goals are.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: Way too often, we think that the goal is a sponsored post, a number of social shares, and really nice looking content. Whereas if you don’t ask the question and you don’t hear that what their actual goal is coupon downloads, that’s a very different way to structure a post. If you’re trying to drive them to a link or drive traffic to a landing page or to get email signups, you need to position that differently. So I think it’s also really important that we kind of know what end result they’re measuring success on, so that you can kind of say, “You know what? I may not be right for this,” and I’m a big proponent of “walk away.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: If it’s not the right deal, you have to walk away, because you can’t perform. If you go into it knowing that you can’t perform, and you’re like, “I just want the money,” it’s like oh guys, please stop. That’s not going to help you build the business in the long run.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. We’ve had that a few different times, where we’ve worked with brands and have realized down the line that actually what they want is three different call-to-action items within a post, and we know very clearly that that doesn’t work. It won’t work to have all of these different things that we’re trying to get people to do. So one of the things that we do now, we have this little intake form when somebody’s interested in working with us. One of the questions that we have is always exactly like you said, “What is your goal? What is your hope for having a partnership with Pinch of Yum?” So we can kind of intentionally say, like you said, if it’s to get 2,000 coupon downloads, its like, “Uh, well, this probably isn’t going to be the best fit.” We can know that right off the bat and have that conversation-

Danielle Liss: -Um-hmm-

Bjork Ostrom: -And either change that and say, “Here’s what we can do,” or say, “Well, this might not be a good fit,” and like you said, walk away, which is always so hard, especially when you’re starting out, to walk away.

Danielle Liss: For sure.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: I think that what you said is so incredible important, because if a brand comes to you and they say, “I really need you to do X, Y, and Z,” and you’re like, “I can do X and Y. Z isn’t going to happen,” it may be that you need to have a conversation with the brand. This is my #1 refrain that everyone hears me say all the time: No one knows your audience better than you do.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: If someone else does know your audience better than you do, you need to get on that, because that’s your business. You should be the number one expert on your audience. You can reframe that for the brand and say, “You know what? I don’t think that Twitter makes sense for my audience, because that’s not where my audience is, but here’s where they are, and here’s what I want to tell you about what I can do there.” Reframe it, because I think there’s a lot more flexibility now, because brands are moving away from just looking at: What is the overall number of page views that I was exposed to? What are my impressions? What was my reach? They really are looking for something more than that now to measure success. So have that conversation, and please don’t be afraid to negotiate that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and speaking of negotiation, one of the things that I want to know, and I’m sure everybody else thinks this all the time: How do you figure out what to charge for a sponsored-content relationship? So whether it’s social media or blogging, it’s such a hard thing to figure out.

Danielle Liss: This was one of my favorite areas that I used to do, because I used to set all the pricing for the blog posts. I would have people come to me and say, “I charge” … I cannot math on the fly-

Bjork Ostrom: -Sure-

Danielle Liss: -I’m not going to lie to you. So I’m going to use round numbers on everything.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, yeah.

Danielle Liss: So let’s say somebody came to me, and they said, “I charge a thousand dollars for this,” okay, show me why. I think that the key is you have to be able to demonstrate the results that you have achieved. My partner and I, when we first created our business … We have two businesses. One is Businessese, and there we do a little bit more than just the legal side, and we created what we call the PRICE method. That is a five-factor method to help you determine the right price for your content. Here’s my big secret: There’s no secret formula.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: There is absolutely no secret formula. So we look at potential impressions, which is your total followers, your page views … I really prefer to use visitors, because I think that’s a more accurate number than page views … then your reach. So on your average content, how many people actually see it? Because that’s a really important number to say, “Here’s what my reach looks like.” Because I think the average blogger probably has about 1% to 4% of their visitors are actually seeing their stuff. So if you can say, “I have 10% of my audience seeing it,” that can put you into a much higher pay bracket than what someone else may have. So that’s a really big one.

I think that investment, which is the “I” in the price method, and that’s: How much time are you putting into it? Do you have to spend money to boost? Are you paying a VA? What is your back-end cost that goes into creating the content?

Then the “C” is the content itself, because since I’m talking to food bloggers, you are one of the premium niches. People will pay more for really good food and recipe content than they would for just a simple product placement on a more generic blog. I think that fashion and food are two of the most styled and just fancy … Let’s use the word “fancy” … the fancier content that you may see. So there’s a premium that can go along with that.

The last piece, the “E,” is engagement, because I think engagement is the most critical factor right now. If you aren’t getting engagement on your posts, you need to figure out what’s happening. I usually tell people to start from the cost-per-engagement. That’s where I usually say, “Set your ballpark there, and then look at all of the factors,” because the other thing that I think is a big thing for pricing, people very frequently want to set a rate. They want a base rate, and I get that. You want to know what you’re charging for things. But if each campaign is different, and you’re going to be doing different deliverables, you need to be flexible there.

I’ve had so many people who will say, “Oh, this is below my rate.” Well, okay, but do you need to have that threshold set there? Can you go back and negotiate and say, “You know what? This is what I would typically charge for this.” This is a brand you really want to work with, and you’re willing to discount it for that relationship. It’s okay to have flexibility. The other thing is, oh folks, please, please, please vary your pricing based on the season. Q4 is, let’s face it, a crazy, intense time in the blogging world.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: I would say probably about September, maybe late September through November for the holidays, and honestly a lot of brands are spending out their budget for the year. It’s a really lucrative time. So that may be a good time for you to raise your prices. Where if you look at the seasonality of your business, and you’re like, “Oh, man, Q2 is usually pretty low for me,” just based on whatever you blog about, lower your prices a little bit then, but put them back up at that time. So I really think that pricing should be fluid.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: It can depend on all of those factors that come in, so there’s no really simple answer. I know everybody hates it when I don’t give a simple answer.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, but it’s true, and it makes sense.

Danielle Liss: But I think that … Vary it, and don’t be afraid to charge more. I think the other big thing is: Where is the work coming from?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: Because if you are working direct to brand, that’s going to be the high end of the scale for pricing, because you’re handling it from pitch to close. You are handling so much more than you would do if a network is doing it. Because with a network, you are creating the content, which I am not minimizing that, but when you are just creating the content, you don’t have to deal with the pitch and the constant client followup and campaign close reportings and things like that. So you can potentially discount what your average rate would be when you’re going through a network versus direct to brand.

Bjork Ostrom: Because it’s less work for you.

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Potentially you’re saving some time, yeah.

Danielle Liss: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So the PRICE method, so just to review, you look at all these different variables to gauge or to provide kind of foundational approach for pricing out your content, which would be potential visitors, plus the reach. So let’s say you have 100,000 potential visitors. Would that be for your blog, are we talking about specifically?

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great.

Danielle Liss: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: And then how many of those people, the reach, actually consume the content, plus the investment. So maybe you hire somebody to come and help shoot a video, and if it costs $300 to do that video or $500 to do that video, you don’t want to charge $500 for the content, because then you’re not making any money from that. So thinking about the investment that goes into it, the actual content itself, and then engagement, all of that equaling the PRICE method.

One of the takeaways that I had never thought about that’s really interesting is this idea of Quarter 4 and saying we have, exactly like you described, this reality where Quarter 4 is a very busy time, and there’s more potential for brands or PR agencies to work with you or to connect with you, potentially so much so that if you have a certain number of pieces of sponsored content that you want to do a month and don’t go over that, some people might say, “Only two things a month is what I do.” Then it makes sense, the supply and demand, if the demand is higher and the supply stays the same, then you would want to raise those prices in Quarter 4. It’s a really good takeaway and something that I think is simple conceptually, but I don’t know if a lot of people do that, so that’s a really great takeaway.

Danielle Liss: Thanks. I think it’s really important that … I think that we get so fixated on, “This is my rate, and I won’t change it. This is it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: I know that people want to stay with that, but be flexible, because you may see a lot of ability to change there and stay on top of things. So for example, if you’re in the top influence platform, keep tabs on where they have your cost per engagement listed, because I see some folks who their cost per engagement for their blog posts is at like 10 cents, and I’m like, “What? Please raise that.” Because I think that on average I usually tell people to aim for around a dollar for cost per engagement on blog posts. I think it’s a pretty good deal. So if you are charging only 10 cents, you can afford to put a pretty big price hike on that.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain what that is, the cost per engagement? Is that only for a blog post, or would that apply to other social media channels as well?

Danielle Liss: It can apply to every social media channel. So your cost per engagement is … And I’m going to use blogs as an example, because I think it’s the easiest one to do … So how do people engage with a blog post? Comments, clicks, and social shares.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: So one thing that I recommend there, please, please, please, if you are working direct to brand, and they have not given you tracking links to use, I want you to use either Pretty Link Lite or Bit.ly, whatever it might be, to track those results.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Danielle Liss: That is so important so that you know, “Hey, I drove a ton of traffic back to them.” That’s really important for your campaign reporting too. So you can track all of those different things. So let’s say, for example … Again, the whole math on the fly thing.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm, yeah, okay.

Danielle Liss: Oh man, this is where it’s going to get tricky. So let’s say you had a total of 500 engagements total across all of those three different categories.

Bjork Ostrom: Comments, clicks, and social shares?

Danielle Liss: Comments, clicks, and shares, and you were paid $1,000 for the post. Does that work out to 50 cents, I hope?

Bjork Ostrom: Say it again, so you were paid-

Danielle Liss: -If you were paid-

Bjork Ostrom: -$1,000, and you had 500, it would be the opposite.

Danielle Liss: It’s $5?

Bjork Ostrom: You would get $2 for every-

Danielle Liss: -See I can’t do math-

Bjork Ostrom: -So we can flip-flop though. So let’s say that you had 1,000 comments, 1,000 clicks, and 1,000 social shares, you got paid $500. That would me for every one of those clicks, comments, or social shares, that you got paid 50 cents.

Danielle Liss: Exactly, and that’s a really good deal. So ignore my horrible math skills. That’s why I’m a lawyer.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s the worst to do it on air, isn’t it? Even with that one, I was a little bit nervous. I was like, “This is being recorded.”

Danielle Liss: You know what? Here’s the thing. I need to just come up with an example that I remember-

Bjork Ostrom: -Yeah, just use it-

Danielle Liss: -Off the top of my head-

Bjork Ostrom: -All the time-

Danielle Liss: -That I can look like I can do math on the fly, but I can’t, and I never do it. But the goal is to have a good cost per engagement, because that means that your audience is taking action. Really, what does a brand want to see more than that? The key is going to be to go to your brands and talk to them about how are they measuring success. Most of the time they’re going to say, “We want it to resonate with your audience,” if they don’t have a particular number. So if you can go to them and say, “You’ve got all of this for a cost per engagement of 50 cents,” that’s a really good result.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, and you said sometimes you could even go up to a dollar. So if you had 1,000 comments, clicks, and social shares between all of those, that would mean $1,000. That’s what would equate for the cost per engagement.

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Danielle Liss: You do the same thing for each of your social channels. So you can look at Instagram and say, “Okay, we had this many likes and this many comments,” that’s the various ways that people can engage with you, and you can do the same thing to pull out your cost per engagement. I think on social channels, you probably don’t want to go up to a dollar. You probably want to see a lower price point for your cost per engagement, but there it gets a little tricky, because you want to base it on the channel.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: Getting engagement on Twitter is very, very hard, and it may not mean a lot.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Danielle Liss: Because I think that that’s a channel that used to be really lucrative, but now is probably not as much.

Bjork Ostrom: Not as much, yeah.

Danielle Liss: But if you can show people that you get really good engagement on your Facebook page, we know that Facebook changes its algorithm every day, and it can be so hard, so if you can show a brand that you get really good engagement there, that’s a really good selling point for you, and it’s really good in your campaign reports.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: Because please, please, please do campaign reports, everybody.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, so a few things with that. Number one that’s interesting to think about, also there’s this engagement metric now, like when I think of Instagram, and we do a lot of videos with brands and sponsored content on Instagram. The variable there that I would imagine is most important in terms of engagement is actual views. Obviously that would be one where it’s like you’re not shooting for those numbers of 50 cents or a dollar per view. So maybe the comments, clicks, social shares, that kind of thing, would be just kind of a general metric that you can use in the greater scheme of things as you kind of price things out. Because we might have … I’m thinking of an Instagram video where we’d have maybe 150,000 views, but then maybe … I wouldn’t know what they would be … 100 comments or something like that, and the views are probably more important than the comments in that instance. Would you agree with that?

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm, yes, and that’s where it’s important to know what the brand is looking at. Because if you’re doing video content, and most important factor to the brand are the views, then it’s the reach that matters.

Bjork Ostrom: Hmm, got it.

Danielle Liss: And that’s what you want to price on is your reach number. If what they care about the most is engagement, you want to price based on engagement.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Makes sense. Campaign metrics: Can you talk about what that is and how people can effectively communicate with brands their campaign metrics?

Danielle Liss: I love campaign metrics. This is one of those topics that I don’t think gets enough discussion with bloggers. Because I can tell you every agency I’ve worked with, every network that I have talked to, you always close a campaign with a very solid report. Because that is your chance to shine, and honestly, if your goal is repeat business and you did a really great job on a campaign, that is the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to back to them and say, “Look what I did.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: “Want to work together again?” It is the perfect time for a second pitch. So what I say to measure … So in my perfect campaign reports, I kind of give three areas. First you want to give a recap. You want to give the objective. What was your goal for this campaign? Was it a certain reach? Was it a certain engagement? What were you being paid to do? How is the brand measuring success? You base it off of what they were doing.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: So they may say to you, “Our goal is to get 50,000 views on this video.” Let’s say you got 100,000, because again round numbers, so you can go into it knowing, “Awesome. This was what my goal was,” and you can say, “Through this campaign, the goal was to showcase the product in a video recipe.” Let’s say it was the Tasty-style overhead shot, and the goal was 50,000.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: Next, so you have your objective, then you want to talk about your performance. This is where you just talk about the numbers. “Here is what it did based on what your campaign objectives are.” Here, if you have numbers from the brand, get into the math, and while I can’t do it on the fly, I can do this one.

So you can say, “The goal for this was 50,000. This video performed at 200% of goal.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: Think about it. Saying the goal was 50,000, and it performed at 100,000.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: That’s great, right? But if you can say, “It performed at 200% of what the goal was,” that just has a little bit more weight, and you’re doing the math for them, and you can really showcase it. This is also where I recommend have some photos. Give some screen grabs of the content. Show them. This is also the perfect place, if you’ve got good comments from strangers who are talking about, “I am going to get this, like now. I am ordering this today, just clicked,” screenshot those and include them, because there is nothing better than social proof to show how much your audience was engaged with that content and to give them a direct link to show that this is … What’s their goal ultimately? To make more money and get more sales on this product, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: So if you can show them that you did that, perfect. The last thing, and this is what I think often gets overlooked in campaign reporting, is observations and insights. This is the place. Like I said, you are the number one expert on your audience. This is your chance to shine and show why things happened. So if you had something that performed at 500% of goal, talk about why you think that happened. Say, “This took off on Pinterest. This did really well. This got 500,000 Pins, and I think it’s because the content was showcased in the following way.” Give them insights as to, number one, show that you’re the expert. Be the expert. Own it in this section. Also show them that you know how to make their product shine and achieve the results that they’re looking for.

Now the one question I always get is, “What if it didn’t perform?”

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: That, I understand. This is where you talk about it. Because if something performed under what was expected, address it in the insights and say … My number one example here is Twitter, because I think a lot of brands are still like, “Oh, we really want to do Twitter shares and see what happens there,” and it just doesn’t bring the traffic like it used to. You can say, “The audience was not as engaged on Twitter. What I recommend going forward is move to Instagram, move to Facebook. Try to incorporate video.” Because what you’re doing there is laying the groundwork that you know your audience best, and that you think you can help them perform better the next time. Even if it didn’t necessarily perform super-well, it still gives you the opportunity to talk about it.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: One thing I hear really regularly from people is, “I’m working with this brand, and I love them. This is my favorite product in the entire universe, but” … Like they may have required a draft and, “They took away my voice. I can’t tell the story, and it didn’t perform well.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: Talk about that, because that is the number one opportunity for you to show them that, in their future efforts, in their future programs, whatever it might be, that they need to not edit you down. That’s something I usually tell people address before the fact and really get into it and say fight for your audience. Fight for what you know they’ll respond to and say, “Because of the fact that my voice was removed,” and you can phrase it nicer than this but, “Because of the editorial content differing slightly from what we normally have, we believe that this performed under what was expected.”

So it’s a chance for you to kind of really address that, talk about what worked, why it worked … That’s really the key aspect there … And talk about what you think they can do in the future for even better results.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and one of the things we’ve tried to do is, like you said before, try and catch that at the beginning stages. So we’ve had a couple of examples of working with different brands or sponsors where maybe they’ve been really insistent on having a lot of editorial control over it. Then, like you said, it doesn’t perform, because we know that as content creators that it won’t. Sometimes it’s helpful to have those previous experiences as well to go back to and say, “Here’s an example of what I’m referring to,” or a situation where things were changed a lot, and it didn’t have a positive impact on it. I think as much as possible as you can do that on the front end too as well, its really helpful.

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Campaign metrics, though, that’s an awesome takeaway for people and I think something that probably, once you create the process for it and the system for it, actually doesn’t take that long but can be such a huge win for the relationship that you have with that brand.

Danielle Liss: If you have a template for it … Just get yourself a spreadsheet that you use after every campaign, and if you’re not a spreadsheet nerd like me, I get it. That’s my favorite part is putting all the numbers together. Have a template for yourself that you use. It may be a simple PowerPoint. It could be … I don’t know what Google calls it. Google Slides maybe?

Bjork Ostrom: Uh, yeah.

Danielle Liss: I don’t know what they call it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I know what you mean, though, like the PowerPoint version of Google.

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm. Set up a template in Canva, whatever works best for you, and then just pop those numbers in. Campaign reporting, if you are on top of it and really know what happened in your campaign, I honestly don’t think it needs to take more than a half hour. It’s something that you should build into that process, because again, it gives them that wrap-up. If it’s a really good report, I can guarantee you that is something they’re going to be proud of. Whoever coordinated that wants to take it to the their boss and their boss’s boss-

Bjork Ostrom: -Yeah-

Danielle Liss: -Take it as high up as they can. So the more appealing you make that report look, because a spreadsheet is not that visual.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: It’s not something that they can really present to their superiors. Make it something that they want to be able to share, because that’s going to get you even more attention.

We have a small course on it. We had somebody who took it and said, “I sent this out to a brand, and their response was, ‘I have never received something like this from a blogger. We can’t wait to work with you again.’”

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.

Danielle Liss: So it’s really something that can make you shine.

Bjork Ostrom: What is the course for those that would be interested? I want to give you a chance to mention that.

Danielle Liss: Oh thank you. It’s called “Closing Strong.” Really it has all of our templates. We have a spreadsheet, again, for those who don’t like to work Excel quite as much as I do. Then it has really all the metrics built in that you can kind of pull from and then some PowerPoint templates.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, great, and the name of it again was what?

Danielle Liss: Oh, I am sorry, “Closing Strong.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, you said that. I just wanted to double check.

Danielle Liss: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: So we’ll include the link to that in the show notes for those that want to check it out.

Danielle Liss: Thanks.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, of course. One thing that I wanted to check in on or talk about related to that is the idea of case studies. I know when we were talking, not recorded previously a couple of weeks ago, you had mentioned case studies. Can you talk just briefly on why that’s important as well?

Danielle Liss: Absolutely. I don’t know a marketing agency that doesn’t have a case study. So really what you have there is a few different marketing pieces that I think are really important for bloggers to use to shine as a business. Because you always hear, “Treat yourself as a business. Treat yourself as a business,” and you’re like, “What do I need to do to do that?”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: So I think that you need to have a solid pitch that doesn’t read like, “Hey, can I have some stuff?” Because that’s unfortunately what too many pitches read like. You really need to have a good pitch there. I think that you need to have a good media kit, which I think most people are on top of in the media camp.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Danielle Liss: A media kit shows people what you could do. It’s the potential. It shows them about your numbers. It shows them your demographics. It shows them samples of your content, maybe some testimonials, which are all fantastic, but it’s what could happen. A case study shows them what has happened. It shows them proof of what you have done. I think that that is so important to have, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. I’m talking a one-pager. If you go to an agency website, if you go to a network website, chances are you can find some of their case studies.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: It’s really important, first of all, make sure you’ve got permission to highlight the brand, because there are some contracts that will say, “You can’t us in a case study.”

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: So, if you’re not sure, ask. Because I think it’s much more powerful if you have the brand’s permission and you can really talk about, “These were the goals of the campaign. This is what I did to perform. This is a sample of the content,” that type of thing.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: But essentially, you want to give an objective, so say, “This is what we were tasked with doing.” Then you want to show how you did it, so give a sample of the content. Then you want to talk about the performance and how you achieved the results that the brand was looking for. They’re really, really effective.

So for example if you are a recipe blogger, get a really great sponsored recipe post that you’ve done. Get permission from the brand. Kind of break it down as to what the results were. Show what your reach was, how many engagements you had. If you can throw in a couple of comments or testimonials, and if you have a testimonial from the brand you worked with, perfect. That really kind of seals the deal on the case studies. I think that that’s kind of the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, one of my favorite examples of this is there’s this YouTube channel. They’re called “Dude Perfect.” Have you ever heard of these guys? I think it’s mostly like 13-year-old kids that watch this channel, and me, but they do all these different goofy extreme sports videos, so they’ll do one like Seattle Seahawks trick shots, and they’ll be with Russel Wilson, who’s the quarterback of the Seahawks, and they’ll do all these football trick shots, and they get just millions and millions of views.

But if you go to DudePerfect.com, which is their website, they have a dedicated case studies page, and it shows like this one was when they worked with Nerf guns, which furthers my point on their target market. But it shows how many views they had, how many likes they had. Then they have this kind of fun one: How many darts were fired when they did the video. But then they also have a testimonial from the VP of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing for Nerf, and he talks about how great it was to work with them. Then it includes the video that they put together.

So that’s one of the things which, again, we don’t really have a strong case studies area yet, but we thought about that as something that we want to do this year, because it helps so much in having the conversations with brands to say, “Here’s some of the other brands we’ve worked with,” and a little testimonial from them and some info on the content.

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm, the more the people can see how you’ve performed in the past, the more likely they’re going to want you to do the same thing for them, and they’re going to want to give you money. So I think that it’s one of those things that can really kind of help smooth along your sales process quite a bit.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm, great. One of the things you mentioned was make sure you have a good pitch. What would your quick tips be for solidifying a good pitch?

Danielle Liss: I think a good pitch needs to show … Well first of all, I think a good pitch should talk about a pain point. So what is a problem that the brand has that you can potentially solve?

Bjork Ostrom: For instance?

Danielle Liss: It could be … So let’s say that they have a new product launching. Let’s say it is an almond milk company, and they’re releasing a new product. You’re like, “You know what? I can create a recipe for you that will help you get in front of my audience of millennial moms and college students, who are really into smoothies.” So you can show them that, if they have this problem, you’re the solution for it. But I think that the key is to make your pitch personalized. You need to talk to them about what you can do as well as show the results that you have.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: It’s really important to know your numbers. I think that way too often … And I fully understand this, because I see so many people who are working in content, and they love the creative side, but they hate the numbers. They hate diving into Google Analytics. They hate dealing with anything that’s kind of that reporting aspect.

Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh.

Danielle Liss: So kind of dive in and say, “You know what? I have outstanding average reach. These are my demographics. Here’s how I think I can position you.” So I think it’s just really important to make it personal, because way too often it was like, “I have an audience of this many page views per month and this many visitors, and I think that your product would resonate with them.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: I’ve heard from brands who I worked with on the network side, who said, “You know what? It really just sounds like they want me to send them some free product and money, and I don’t see what’s in it for me.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: So the goal for your pitch is: Show them what’s in it for them.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, great. So let’s switch gears a little bit. One of the things I wanted to talk about is this idea of business type. So we’ve mentioned a few different times. When you’re starting a blog or you’re starting a website, you want to think of yourself as a business right from the get-go, and that includes a lot of the stuff that we’ve already talked about. But what does that actually mean, and what does that look like? How do people go about actually setting themselves up as a business? There’s LLC. There’s sole proprietor. There’s corporation. What do you recommend for people that are just getting started out or people that have been doing this for a while? How do they approach kind of the official business side of things? What would you recommend?

Danielle Liss: Sure. You mentioned the three main entity types. So there’s sole proprietor, corporation, and LLC, which is a limited liability company. If you don’t do anything, and you decide, “I am a business,” you can be a sole proprietor. I can look across the room now and say, “I see my cats. I’m going to take some photos of them, and I’m going to be a business called ‘Cat Lady Photos,’” which I’m sorry if that name is taken. I have not searched this.

Bjork Ostrom: You have the trademark.

Danielle Liss: Again, I need to have some samples that I use on the fly, and I never do. So let’s say I start “Cat Lady Photos,” and I’m just taking pictures of my cats. That, I can be a sole proprietor. The key to remember about being a sole proprietor is you and your business, you’re the same entity.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: If something goes bad in the business, you are responsible. This is where forming an entity comes in really handy, because it protects you. It gives you limited liability. So let’s say for example you get sued, which I don’t like to be the fear-monger lawyer-

Bjork Ostrom: -Sure-

Danielle Liss: -Who’s like, “Oh you have to protect yourself,” but this is what it comes down to.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Danielle Liss: If you get sued, and let’s say you had a cease-and-desist letter that came in. You had a picture that you thought was properly sourced. It wasn’t. They’re suddenly saying, “We’re about to sue you for $50,000.” For most small businesses, I don’t know many that could survive that type of blow.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: If you are a sole proprietor, you’re responsible personally for that $50,000. They can come after your house. They can come after your assets. Whatever it is, they can come after it. So that’s why the entity types tend to be what we recommend people go for. If you’re making money in your blog, then we definitely recommend setting up an entity type. So then your choices are corporations or limited liability companies.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: They do limit your liability, because then your business is separate from you. It is its own separate entity. So from there, what I typically tell people is, “You need to think about what your end goals are. What do you want to see happen with your business?” If your goal is to sell shares of your business and to potentially be acquired or to go get venture capital, you’re going to want to do a corporation. Corporations are a bit of an older form of business, but can issue shares for a corporation, and it’s very often the format that’s preferred by investors because of the shares.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: There are more formalities. You still get limited liability, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect in either form. There’s just more that you have to do, like dealing with the board of directors, having annual meetings, things along those lines. It can be a bit more cumbersome, and those are the corporate formalities that you have to follow, the things like the board meetings, the different filings that you may have to have, keeping the minutes, keeping the books. It all depends on what state you’re in what your secretary of state will require-

Bjork Ostrom: -Sure-

Danielle Liss: -Under their laws. Then the next aspect is the limited liability company. If you do not plan to seek funding, and what your main goal is to have an entity that gives you limited liability so that you have that separate entity that’s responsible, I 95% of the time recommend it to bloggers to do an LLC. There are far fewer corporate formalities, and you still get the benefits.

Then it comes down into S corps. A lot of people say, “I talked to my accountant, and my accountant said I need to be an S corp, because of certain tax advantages.” I can’t talk about taxes. I’m not a tax attorney.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: But what I can tell people there is, if you are an LLC, the IRS doesn’t recognize an LLC as a thing. So if you are an LLC, and you’re just a one-person LLC, they will tax you as a sole proprietor. If you are two people or more, they will tax you as a partnership.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: The one really nice benefit is if your CPA tells you, “Oh, you really should do this as an S corp because of the tax advantages,” you can file a one-page piece of paperwork with the IRS, and they will then tax you as an S corp. So there’s some flexibility there that I think is really nice in terms of LLC, because I see a lot of times that the CPAs may say, “You know what? You’re going to file as a corporation and then elect to be an S corp.” You don’t quite have to go that far.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: You can kind of get, as I say, the best of both worlds, make your lawyer and your accountant happy.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. That’s actually how we have it set up. So we have both Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum. They’re two different businesses. Originally we had them as LLCs, and that worked out well, but eventually it gets to a point, and we won’t have to get into the taxes side of things here and the super nitty-gritty details. We don’t have to do extreme math on the fly, right?

Danielle Liss: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: But eventually, usually what happens, as far as I understand it, is that if you get to a certain point of profitability, it makes sense instead to pay yourself a salary from the business. So you get a certain amount from the business, and it has to be the amount that would be what somebody else would get if they’re actually running that business, so it has to be a fair salary. Then the rest of it stays in the business, and it’s not viewed necessarily as an individual income salary. So there’s lots of tax stuff that goes into it. We won’t get into the details of it. But essentially you’re able to save a little bit on taxes if you’re taxed as an S corp, and that’s how both Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum are set up, LLCs taxed as S corps.

Danielle Liss: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And if nothing else, that’s something that people can jot down, that phrase that I just said, and they can go to their CPA or their accountant and say, “Is this something that I should do, and is it worth it for me?”

Danielle Liss: Sure.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s a little bit more paperwork and stuff involved with it, but sometimes it can be worth it. So that’s an important thing I wanted to point out. Like you said, there’s the sole proprietor. Anybody can do that. Anybody can get that set up. But you are leaving yourself a little bit exposed to potentially some type of litigation, and like you said, you never want to be in the fear-creating position, but also you want to be intentional, and we want to be intentional in podcasts like this to point out areas where there might be a little bit of a gap or a hole that they’re not seeing and make sure to patch that up.

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. So we’re coming to the end of the interview here, but one thing I wanted to hear you talk about is let’s say that somebody came to you, and they said, “Hey, I am thinking of, I haven’t yet started a blog or a website or an online business, but this is something I’m excited to do, and I’m excited to jump in and start this process.” What would you say in that first year, from a legal perspective, would be the things that they want to make sure, the boxes they want to check in terms of getting things set up and all squared away?

Danielle Liss: So during the setup period, what I encourage people to do if they haven’t done so already is to do a really good and thorough search, if we’re talking the very beginning, and they haven’t even settled on their name yet.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Danielle Liss: I want you to do a really thorough search, including the trademark database, to make sure that you’re not going to run into any issues with your name.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Could you talk about the trademark database, how people can get there?

Danielle Liss: Um-hmm. I will give you the URL for it. It’s called “TESS,” T-E-S-S, and it’s honestly like Boolean search, Google-style, enter in the name that you’re looking for, and just figure out. Because if somebody else already has the trademark, it’s really important, because nobody want to get into a situation where they’ve gone through all kinds of branding and expense to set up their website potentially and then get a cease-and-desist letter because it’s somebody else’s mark. Don’t assume that because the domain is available that it doesn’t have a trademark.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Danielle Liss: It’s very possible that it’s out there. So I would say start there. Just do a quick search. They’re not hard to complete at all.

The next step is think about what you want your business structure to look like, and that honestly can depend on what phase of life you’re in. Because if you have a lot of assets, you may want to set up your LLC immediately.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: And we do those regularly for people where they come and say, “I’m getting ready to start this. However, I have a secondary business. I have a job. I have a house,” whatever the case might be, “I just need to get my LLC set up.” So that’s step one is make sure you’ve got your business entity as it needs to be. Because even if you’re a sole proprietor, check your local laws, because you may still need to have a business license. So there is definitely some things that you would need to handle. Set up your business banking account, of course. Again, no financial advice here-

Bjork Ostrom: -Yeah-

Danielle Liss: -But a big important one to keep things separate.

The next step I would say is make sure you have what you need on your website itself. Because if you are an online business, you need to make sure that your website has everything it needs. Typically what I tell people is to get yourself a good set of site terms. For me that includes full terms of use, which is how people can use your site. That is how they can interact with it. Make sure that it’s known that this is your copyrighted content, things along those lines. What can they do? Do you have a comment policy? Do you have a membership site? That type of thing. If you sell a physical product on your site, include your purchase policies there.

The next aspect is your privacy policy. I think that it is critical for bloggers to have a good privacy policy. The second question I get here, and I already know that it would come is, “I got a free one from a generator. Is that good enough?” My answer is the most lawyerly answer ever, “Maybe.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So it depends on what you are doing. What I can say is a lot of free policies are a good starting place, and it’s better to have something than nothing. It will depend on what kind of work you are doing, because … For example, let’s say you use TapInfluence, and many other networks and software have the same type of thing. When you do a sponsored post for them, you get code that you insert into the post that has a tracking pixel. That’s something that you should be talking about in your privacy policy, that you have a tracking pixel.

Are you using Facebook ads and the retargeting pixel? That should be included. Are you collecting emails for a newsletter? That should be included in your privacy policy. Are you taking payment for things? Make sure that’s included.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: So it will depend on what you are doing. Really the key is: What personal information are you collecting? Where is it going? How are you using it? Do you give access to other people? Do you use cookies, and how do you use them?

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Danielle Liss: I think it’s really important to also make sure that you disclose affiliate links there. So do you use affiliate links? What kind of cookie is that going to put onto the browser?

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: Within your terms of use, you can also include an affiliate policy and an FTC disclosure type of policy. Then the last thing is disclaimers.

I think that disclaimers are really to show an audience that what you’re providing is for informational purposes only. So for example, let’s say maybe in the past I have consulted with Dr. Google about some of my medical symptoms. If you do that, any time you go to a medical website, you are going to see “We’re not a doctor.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: “We’re not your doctor. This is for informational purposes. Make sure you go see a doctor before you diagnose yourself-

Bjork Ostrom: -Right-

Danielle Liss: -With any of the numbers of things that you now think you have.” So not speaking from personal experience. So in that case, you want to make sure that you have the right disclaimers. This is really going to be important. Certain ones, I think, really stick out, like fitness bloggers if you’re talking about workouts.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: For me, I’m a lawyer. I need to make sure that I’m telling people, “This doesn’t create a client relationship.”

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: But what I also think is important is: What are the other things that you talk about? We talked a lot about disclaimers recently, and we have one that is for people who promote essential oils.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: Because I think that it’s important that you disclaim, “I’m a rep for Young Living or doTERRA or whatever other companies are out there, so there’s potentially monetary gain for me. However, this also still isn’t medical advice.” So I think that there’s certain things to be aware of. We even have one that we’ve done for recipe bloggers, because if you are saying that something is gluten-free or something that can potentially help them lose weight-

Bjork Ostrom: -Um-hmm-

Danielle Liss: -Those are the types of things where it may have a certain label on it, but it’s still informational, and you want to make sure that it’s clear. It’s up to you how you handle this.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Danielle Liss: So that’s the last piece on the website policies. The final piece that I think is the absolute most important and very often overlooked in the blogging community is: Make sure you’ve got your contracts lined up.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: Please don’t enter into a relationship where money is changing hands without a contract.

Bjork Ostrom: Um-hmm.

Danielle Liss: This is a very community-based sort of world, and I get that, and we may hire people and say, “Oh, you’re my friend. It’s cool that we don’t have a contract.” Oh please get that contract, because I’ve seen that go bad way too many times. The contract, just remember, you don’t come off as a bad person. You don’t come off as unkind for asking for a contract. You’re protecting your rights, but you’re also protecting the other person’s rights. If you simply say to somebody, “I’m going to pay you this for this,” yes that covers the payment, but there’s so many other things that you’re leaving kind of wide open, and it’s those other things that you want to make sure are buttoned up at the end.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: So that’s going to be for your contractors if you hire a VA, if you hire a social media manager, if you’re hiring a web designer as well as the brands that you’re working with. Because let me tell you, the contract that you have for your contractor should look different than the contract that you use for your brand partners.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, believe it or not.

Danielle Liss: Yeah, really there’s very different areas that are of concern there, so you just want to make sure that you’ve got the right contract for each relationship.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. There’s this phrase, “Good fences make good neighbors,” which I don’t know if I entirely agree with, but I think there’s something to be said about that. I think that good contracts make for good relationships, good business relationships, because it’s all spelled out. It’s clear. Sometimes what can happen too is even if you both agree on something, down the line people can forget, or it gets fuzzy, or you can’t remember exactly, and the contract is always nice to have something on paper so you can go back to that and use that that as the kind of definitive word in terms of what the actual agreement was.

Danielle Liss: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a lot of stuff, and I’m guessing that it’s stuff that people themselves aren’t interested in doing. So maybe a good way to end, and yeah there’s a lot of awesome content, but if people want to get in touch with you, if they’re interested in working with Hashtag Legal, what’s the best way to reach out and connect with you?

Danielle Liss: Our website is a really good option. It’s Hashtag-Legal.com. If you want to shoot us an email, if you have questions, or if you want to set up a consult, its [email protected]. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, too many things, and I just need somebody to talk to me for a half hour and guide me through it,” we do offer strategy sessions because we’ve heard that from enough people, we were like, “Oh, maybe this is something that we should offer to make sure people have an opportunity to just kind of run through their questions.”

Bjork Ostrom: Cool.

Danielle Liss: So that’s usually a great way to reach us, and I’m always happy to hear from people on Facebook or on Twitter too.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Danielle, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Really, really good information in the note will help people continue on with building their blog and building their business.

Danielle Liss: Thank you so much for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for this episode. One more big thank you to Danielle for coming on the podcast. As a reminder, if you haven’t yet hopped onto the Food Blogger Pro waiting list, you can do that at foodbloggerpro.com, and while you’re there, you can check out the experts that we work with, really, really incredible people doing really good work, and people that understand this strange and powerful niche of food blogging. As you heard Danielle say, it’s one of those industries where it has a lot of impact when it comes to influencer marketing. The food industry specifically is one where we see people creating their own little empire. They’re able to create their own blog and brand and build something around that. So that’s what we’re all about here is talking about how to do that.

If you have any questions for us about enrollment, as I said, we’re coming up on that period. You can go to foodbloggerpro.com, and there will be a little chat bubble down below. You can ask us questions there, but this is just a little teaser. Stay tuned, because that’ll be coming up here within the month.

Thanks for tuning in, really appreciate you, make a great week. Thanks.

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