In this episode of the Blogger Genius podcast, I interview Elizabeth Stapleton, a lawyer and blogger who helps bloggers stay compliant with the legal issues of running an online business.
We discuss the trends we have observed in the blogging world, including the shift towards AI-generated content and the importance of real content and authenticity.
We also discuss the importance of email marketing and growing an email list, selling products directly to your audience, as well as the legal aspects of running a blog, such as GDPR compliance and trademark protection.
Elizabeth offers legal templates on her website to help bloggers navigate these issues. I also talk about MiloTreeCart, designed for non-techies to take their digital product sales to the next level.
Table of Contents
- Catch My Party
- MiloTree Pop-Up App
- Elizabeth Stapleton
- Blogger Breakthrough Summit
- Get My Ebook: The Beginner’s Guide to Making Money with Ebooks Using ChatGPT
- Book a Call with Me
- Join My Blogger Genius Email List
- Become a Blogger Genius Facebook Group
- MiloTreeCart Affiliate Program
- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
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Intro (00:00:04) – Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast, brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie (00:00:11) – Hello my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie. I am a serial entrepreneur and blogger. I have been at this for a very long time.
We started by building Catch My Party in 2009. We’ve grown it into the largest party idea site on the web. We also offer our MiloTree pop-up app that so many of you use to grow your social media followers and email subscribers. You install it on your blog in less than two minutes.
And recently we are offering MiloTreeCart, which is the easiest way for you, bloggers and creators to sell digital products to your audience. I’m super excited. That’s like my new baby.
One thing that I have been reading a lot about and I’m sure you have too, is AI. And I think it is going to change our businesses in ways that we can predict, in ways we can’t.
I do have a few predictions I wanted to share. One is, I think there will be a premium placed on reel, whether that be reel photos, reel video showing up live. I think that as content just becomes written by AI, that is what people are going to crave.
I also think search is going to change, especially as we go to something like ChatGPT to answer our questions. I think block-traffic will probably diminish a little bit at least. And so, if you monetize via ads on your blog, I think that might be shifting.
I also think social media is going to be in for more of a wild ride as we try to decipher what is again real and what isn’t. So, as a business owner, I recommend you think about leaning into selling products and services to your audience, especially where you can be real.
With MiloTreeCart for example, you can sell paid workshops where you show up live. You can create a membership where you show up live. You can do one-on-one coaching. I think these are all going to be premium products.
It’s great to start with digital downloads or an eBook. In fact, go check out the episode I recorded last week where I just walked through how easy it is now with ChatGpt to write an entire eBook in just a couple of hours.
Definitely start there so you can cultivate relationships with your customers and then ultimately funnel them into these more premium products. If this sounds interesting to you, if you have an idea for this, definitely go to MiloTreeCart.
Just a heads up, we are raising our prices. If you want to get it at our current lifetime deal price, which was always introductory at $3.49, head there now and buy it and you’ll own it forever.
Plus, we offer a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee. So honestly, there is no risk if you buy it. I also give you an hour onboarding coaching call where we can talk about your digital product strategy.
People who have bought it, love it. It’s simple to use. It’s built for non-techies. You can sell digital downloads, workshops, memberships, subscriptions, coaching, all with it, and free fill in the blank sales pages where you can be selling in about 10 minutes. So, head to milotree.com/cart and if you want this, buy it now because prices are going up.
For my guest this week, I’m interviewing Elizabeth Stapleton. She is a lawyer and blogger and she helps bloggers stay compliant when it comes to the legal issues of running an online business. And you might know her because she hosts a very popular blogging summit called the Blogger Breakthrough Summit.
She does this every January and what I asked her was what were the trends she was seeing this year? It was interesting to hear her responses. We talked about how the economy is impacting our businesses.
We talked about how maybe social media isn’t as important as we all think it is, and how putting together the pieces of your business in an incredibly thoughtful way is how you have success. It’s no longer about throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.
Also, she’s a lawyer and we talk briefly about what it takes to protect yourself as a blogger. So, without further delay, here is my interview with Elizabeth Stapleton.
Elizabeth, welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:05:03) – Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
Jillian Leslie (00:05:06) – You are a fellow blogger, so can I ask you, when did you start your first blog? What inspired you and why did you think this was interesting and something you wanted to explore and dig deep in?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:05:19) – Sure. So, I started my very first blog back in 2014. I saw how to start a blog tutorial, which basically just walked me through buying, hosting. So, they got an affiliate commission.
That’s a whole other story but I started, because I saw it as a way to make money. I kept seeing all these people in these income reports and stuff like that. And I was a couple of years out of graduating law school and I have a lot of student loans and a lot of student loan debt. And so, I wanted to make extra money, just help pay off some debt.
And eventually it morphed into becoming my business and what I do and being able to live life on my terms and my schedule and stuff. Because I thought I didn’t love my corporate job. So yes, that’s how it all came about and it’s evolved.
And that was a personal finance site, which I still have to this day. And now I have all these other sites as well because once you start.
Jillian Leslie (00:06:12) – It’s like we started with Catch My Party and then we ended up building a piece of technology, our MiloTree pop-up app and we’re like, “Hey, we could sell this.” And then we launched a membership, which led to us coming up with the idea for MiloTreeCarts.
And when people ask me for example, how did this all come about? I’m like, “Ooh. It’s just kind of like you go down these paths.”
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:06:35) – Crazy you never know where it’s going to take you. My first guest post ended up in someone’s published book.
Jillian Leslie (00:06:39) – Really?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:06:41) – It’s crazy. You never know where stuff is going to take you.
Jillian Leslie (00:06:44) – I would say in my experience it’s about putting stuff out there and listening and seeing where you get traction. Like where do you come up with that good idea that other people are saying that’s a good idea.
And then you have to go back and then create a narrative that makes sense because when you’re going forward in it, it doesn’t make any sense.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:07:06) – And I’d say there’s a lot of ideas and everything out there and I think you need to just sit back and be like, “What do I like about that idea and what do I don’t and how can I make it my own?” And that really makes you stand out even if people are doing similar things.
Jillian Leslie (00:07:20) – You run a summit and as you just shared with me, you’ve done it four times and it’s called the Blogger Breakthrough Summit. And I love that you do it in January where everybody is really kind of, “I’m going to, this is my year.” So, you just did it.
Elizabeth Stapleton(00:07:37) – Yes. It just wrapped up.
Jillian Leslie (00:07:40) – And how many experts do you have in this summit?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:07:45) – I aim for 50 at least. It’s a big summit, but I break it. I try to not make it too overwhelming for my audience. I have the sessions broken out as for beginners intermediate and advance. I’m not trying to get people to attend all 50 plus sessions.
And I in fact encourage them not to try to do that because it’s too much. I tell them to pick a level stick with that. And those generally have the advance I’d say has the fewest because it’s more focused. I’d say intermediate and beginner tracks usually have about 20, 25 sessions.
Jillian Leslie (00:08:20) – Wow. Based on this last year, I feel like this is almost like a new year because we’re coming out of the pandemic and things are hopefully coming back to a semblance of normalcy.
What trends did you see this year that you remarked on and said, “Ooh, that’s an interesting Trend?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:08:42) – I think something I’m seeing over and over again is pricing changes. A few years, not even a few years ago, probably five or six years ago, it was all about, price your value.
Consider your expertise, which is great. I’m not saying don’t do that, but with the recession and everything, people just can’t afford that. And so, I’m saying offer more discounts, offer lower pricing, do a storefront that’s lower pricing for your one-on-one stuff.
Tripwire is a really good deal. I feel like pricing is going down, sales are going up, but that’s because you’re making it affordable for people who might be struggling with the recession, especially in the blogging space.
A lot of people started blogging to make money because they need more money. And so, I feel like I’m really seeing a lot more affordability and pricing and payment plans.
Jillian Leslie (00:09:36) – Interesting. We talked about this before I pressed record. Digital products are so powerful because if I sell one eBook or I sell a thousand eBooks, it doesn’t cost me anymore for the thousand sales.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:09:50) – Yes.
Jillian Leslie (00:09:52) – How can I lower my price and up my sales? That’s always a tricky thing because I then need more customers.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:10:01) – Growing your audience and I’m seeing and I’ve seen a lot of success with this. I’ve seen the most success with this. I’ve never seen greater social media. There are people that grow their audience with social media and I’m like, well done. That is one route.
Another route is collaboration and bundles and summits and you can grow your audience. I think the last bundle I participated in February, I grew my audience by like 600 people. Which is huge.
Jillian Leslie (00:10:27) – You’re talking about email subscribers?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:10:30) – Yes. I’m talking about email subscribers specifically. You can grow your social media, that’s great, but email subscribers that you can email directly and be like, “Here’s the sales link to my sales page.”
And you’re going to find out if it’s going to convert or not. For me, I feel like there are two different routes in business. There’s the people that are really great at social media and they grow that way and they grow their email list that way. They grow their sales that way. That’s great.
I am not a hugely social media person. I’m a lurker. I lurk on social media all the time. I don’t know how to do anything on Instagram but I focus on growing my list. I’m more of an introvert, believe it or not.
And so, I can email my list and that’s fine. But I’ve gotten really comfortable with that over the years. So, that’s my focus is just getting them on my list. Whether that’s by being on a podcast or by being in a summit or by being in a free bundle or a paid bundle.
Just getting more people on my list because that is my primary method of communication. I’m really good about being regular, about emailing my list. I would say you don’t have to do social media if you want to go ahead. Do you.
One of my speakers this year when we did the live panel, we were talking about how she was moving more towards offering one-on-one services and higher paid coaching things. And I actually phased out client work last year. I don’t want to do that. I’m geared more towards digital products.
I wouldn’t say there’s any one way to do things. It’s just what fits your personality and then what is working in that space right now.
Jillian Lesloie (00:12:08) – One thing I’m seeing that you are touching on is a shift between social, like what you were just saying, social media and growing your list, social media.
I feel like we all got trapped in this world of social media where it was a lot of, look at me, look at me and my numbers, my follower count is growing and I feel good. Like I’m working on my business, but it’s not necessarily trickling down to my bottom line. But I know it will eventually.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:12:40) – Sure.
Jillian Leslie (00:12:41) – And there’s a lot of wishful thinking in that, but it also feels good to be like, whoa, I got a hundred new Instagram followers. And I feel like since the recession there’s been a little bit more of an awakening of what is my ROI, my return on investment for doing reel after reel after reel. And I’m not seeing any money from it.
Because as you were saying, we all need money right now. Therefore when you say I’m growing my list and I’ve been beating that drum for a very long time, there is money in your email list. It’s not sexy but people, if they get on your list, you can cultivate that relationship.
You can say, here’s the value and chances are make many more sales through email than you will on Instagram or TikTok. You have to be very savvy. That’s what I would say.
You have to connect more dots to be selling on TikTok than you do necessarily sending an email to your list. But it’s not as sexy. It doesn’t feel as ego. It’s not like stroking you in a variety that sounds dirty, but you know, just like it doesn’t feel as good. But yet it’s more real and it leads to dollars.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:14:02) – I think my Instagram has 300 subscribers or followers on Instagram, whatever you call them. And I’m terrible at posting on there. And I hosted on ConvertKit.
Jillian Leslie – How healthy is your list?
Elizabeth Stapleton – 90% of my list is five stars healthy. It’s very engaged, it’s very focused. I clean my list so I’m not having to pay for dead weight. And it’s thousands of people. So, I don’t really care if my social media doesn’t look like I do a whole lot.
My email list, my Facebook group, which I would say is the one social media. I do try to actually make an effort to have people, they are engaged, but my email list is number one. I wouldn’t have a business without my email list.
Jillian Leslie (00:14:53) – And how then do you recommend people sell in email? Like, I’ve got you on my list, do I just send you my most recent blog post? What should I do? How do I translate that into money?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:15:07) – Sure. So, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. I think I told you before we hit record, every February I run freebie February. I’ve just done the summit, which is free, and then I go into freebie february and I send them a free resource or tool every single day.
I missed one day this past year because I got sick with Covid. The fact that I only missed one I’m pretty proud. So, I send them, a lot of times it’ll be an affiliate, for that tool or for someone else’s freebie that I know it leads into a funnel.
The last day I did a free $5 to my Shopify store and that generated $100 in revenue from just people being like, “Oh actually I want to pay that $5 for a product that’s more than $5,” or “I’m going to add this to cart.”
And that’s totally brand new. I really didn’t have any upsells or anything set up there that was just like,”Hey, I’m getting this started.” But it led to other sales of other products. I generated $4,500 in digital product sales last month from email, sending out free things.
“Hey, I have this free webinar.” At the end of the webinar there’s a sales pitch. So, you don’t necessarily have to sell directly in the email. You can send them to free things that lead to paid offers.
There were a couple things that I did directly sell. I was like, “Hey, we’ve talked about digital products and how important they are and I gave you this post of 102 digital product ideas. If you’re looking for a really easy way to turn a blog post into an eBook, I recommend a designer.”
It’s got a lifetime pricing of $27. Basically giving them, treating them how you would your friends. They’re like, oh, if you want to get started with this, this is what I recommend. And hey, it’s worth the $30. Or hey, yes, it’s free to start testing it out.
And then just treating them like your friend or like, hey, if you were helping them to get started with this, where would you send them? Would you send them to a product? Great. Do that.
Would you send them to a webinar where they learn something and then they could potentially buy something to help do that? It was sending freebies to my list all month and I had a five figure month digital product sales wise that didn’t include affiliates.
Jillian Leslie (00:17:24) – Okay. Tell me if this is correct. This is what I’m hearing you say. I’m hearing you say that when you sell through email, it is more like speaking to a friend, whereas in social media it’s like one-to-many, even though I know you’re supposed to be as if you’re speaking to a friend, but it feels a little more performative.
“Hey, look at me, I’m talking about this thing. Look how smart I am. Look how much I know.” And in email it’s much more like, “Hey you, I got this cool thing, I want to hook you up.”
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:17:53) – Yes.
Jillian Leslie (00:17:53) – And the second thing that I would say is it takes some foresight. It takes some planning much more than I need to do a reel today. Here’s my cat.
And we’re going to be on topic maybe, but it could just be like funny things with my cat. Instead, what you are saying is it’s incredibly intentional. You’ve got 28 days in February.
What is a product you could sell that makes sense? Where you write the email where you think about I have to be on this person’s affiliate plan. I need to make sure my links work. It’s not as glamorous. It is much more work to put the things in place. But once you have them in place, it becomes like a well-oiled machine. Now you can reuse these emails next year.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:18:41) – Yes. I reuse a lot of them. The reason I only missed one day, even though I was really sick with Covid is because I just went to one. I sent the previous year or the year before. I think I’ve done this for four years now too. Maybe five. I don’t know.
I was like, copy paste. I do not have the energy to think of anything. I’ve got 10 minutes of energy to go to my computer and get this sent out. A lot of it was reusing and that’s the beauty once you do it once it’s a lot easier to use even if some stuff doesn’t work.
And then they shut down their affiliate program. I’m really not a fan of their business practices anymore anyway. It was a little sketch anyway, so, the next year I did free February, half of my freebies were for this company. So, I had to come up with other things.
It still gives you a starting point, you have half of them. Just think of different ways outside the box. I do February obviously because it’s the shortest month. And sometimes I do a direct sales pitch of things. It just really depends on what promotions I’ve got going on.
This next month I’m going to be promoting more about a summit that I’m in. I will likely promote this podcast episode.
There are just different things I’ve got. I have a calendar that I keep track of what promotions I have going on so that I can plan ahead of what they need before I get to this promotion. Because that’s going to help set them up to be a buyer if it’s a product.
Jillian Leslie (00:20:20) – The thing that I see planning over and over again is planning, planning. As I’m listening to you, I’m thinking in terms of MiloTreeCart and immediately the wheels are turning and I’m like, how can I help people plan?
How can I help them put together the different products so that, for example, my freebie directly makes sense that my tripwire, which comes off of my freebie direct and your tripwire.
By the way, for those of you who don’t know, once somebody signs up for your list because they want whatever it is you’re offering for free on the thank you page, there is a sales page for something that’s like a no-brainer.
Usually you’re not selling thousand dollar products on your tripwire, but it’s like, “Hey, for $20, get this for a limited time.” And people will purchase.
Then it’s how does that leads into my next product where it’s probably more expensive, you probably get more of what you’re looking to achieve. And it’s like how do the pieces fit together? And this is very different from up, I forgot I needed to make a TikTok today. You could have your tos be strategic, but for the person who’s like, oh shoot, I need to feed the algorithm. I need to feel the algorithm and feel good about myself.
I would say the strategy that you are talking about is the strategy I am hearing now over and over again for people getting serious about business building.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:21:55) – And I’m going to tell you, the summit that I’m in next week, I am not actually expecting to grow my list a whole lot because my freebie that I mentioned is not at all related to what I presented on.
And that’s just because I got Covid and I didn’t have time to create something that would fit really well.
Jillian Leslie (00:22:10) – Can you share what you’re talking about, what your freebie is? So people go, “Oh yeah, I see that there’s no connection.”
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:22:16) – My session is all about why I think you should be offering lower price payment plans. And when we talked about the success I’ve had with those, before we hit record, and then my freebie is just like free blogging success planner. It doesn’t tie at all.
And I was like, is there anything I could quickly adjust? And I was like Covid brain, I don’t know if any of you’ve had it. I was like, I can’t think. No, we’re just going to do my regular free CTA I have on my site because I just don’t have it in me to do something.
So I’m like, it’ll be great for building expertise, but I’m not expecting to see a lot of list growth from it, which is fine. I’ve already seen quite a lot of affiliate sales from it. So, it worked out. I’d be surprised if I got a big list growth there because it’s just not related.
Jillian Leslie (00:23:03) – Got it. So, for example, I like what I do, what I’ve done recently talking in summits is talking about digital products, why they’re so valuable,.
Then saying, well if you don’t know where to start, I have a quiz for you and I talk about this in the podcast and stuff and many of you have gotten this, but it’s like, oh, okay, I hear what she’s saying, it all makes sense.
Then when I step away and go, now I need to start this, I don’t even know where to start. So I’m like, start here. Start with this fun personality quiz and it will tell you to, for your first digital product, do a digital download, do a paid workshop or do one-on-one coaching based on your personality.
Not only that, it has a worksheet so that you can go, “Ooh, now I can start ideating.” What would that digital product be? And ultimately my goal is to get you excited about wanting to sell digital products so that you go, hey, the easiest way to start MiloTreeCart.
And wait, then I try to lead them into book a session with me. Again, no heavy sell. It’s really customer research for me. Also, it’s value for you. So, it’s a win-win. I hear what you guys are struggling with and I can say, “Hey, if this would work for you, this might be the solution.”
And you get to hear like, oh, this is how I would push my business forward. This is what it would look like. I get to paint the picture for you to say, does this work for you?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:24:33) – In May, I’m speaking at a summit and I’m speaking on properly disclosing affiliate links and then my freebie is, hey, here’s an affiliate disclosure swipe copy. It’s really well tied.
Jillian Leslie (00:24:47) – That I expect. I need that.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:24:48) – I expect my list to grow with that. And they’re going to then be interested in my legal templates. So, I expect to see a lot more list growth when I do this summit.
Not because the summit is excellent, it’s because my freebie isn’t related to the session I’m teaching. Right? It’s a connection. So, being aware of that.
And I see that with my own summit as well. A lot of the speakers, I feel like your free food doesn’t really connect to your session, but that’s your choice. And I find the speakers that do really well and have a really great growth are those that, it’s related.
Jillian Leslie (00:25:24) – Do you have an example off the top of your head? I don’t mean to put you on the spot of somebody who speaks on something and then has a freebie where you go, ah, no-brainer.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:25:32) – Oh, like a no-brainer one. Someone who speaks on batch planning and they use Trello and then the freebie is a Trello board that helps you get started. I feel like that worked really well for them.
Jillian Leslie (00:25:46) – So for you, when you think about connecting these dots, ultimately your lawyer and your goal is to get people to buy your legal templates, right?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:25:56) – For one of my sites, yes.
Jillian Leslie (00:25:58) – Okay. For one of your sites.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:25:58) -t’s a little bit different, but yes. And quick disclaimer, I’m an attorney, but I’m not your attorney. This isn’t legal advice. This is for informational and educational purposes only.
Jillian Leslie (00:26:09) – Yes.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:26:10) – Yes. I do sell legal templates to help people.
Jillian Leslie (00:26:14) – For.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:26:15) – Blogger attorneys are for bloggers, for online bloggers, online business owners, attorneys are expensive. And when you’re starting a blog, you can really bootstrap a lot of things.
You’ve got to pay for hosting, you’ve got to pay for domain, but really you can bootstrap almost everything else except for I’d say the legal stuff. But you also don’t have $500 to pay an attorney.
And even some of the templates out there are that much. So, I really focused on creating super easy to use templates where it’s like, fill in this form, it will pre-populate the template with your information.
Watch this video to see if you need to adjust anything, paste it on your site. Super simple and affordable, so I don’t offer huge discounts. I see these other people offer 40% discount on these tabs.
I’m like, well they’re priced twice as much as me. I purposely priced it to try and be as affordable as possible. So, anytime I want to grow I look at some of the freebies I have in there.
Recently I submitted a course that I have, it’s called GDPR Step-by-Step. It’s a paid course. It was part of a bundle that they got for free. The bundle was free as well. But it was a great way to grow my list of people who are trying to figure out the legal stuff.
Advertisement (00:27:47) – I want to take a short break to say that as we move into uncharted territory when it comes to business building, you can really protect yourself by having multiple income streams.
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Jillian Leslie(00:28:40) – SWe have our site, Catch My Party and I was talking to my VA and what we do is we have real parties. The people upload to our site.
So, if you want real, and as we’re moving into this world of ChatGPT, it’s hard to determine what’s fake and what’s real, what’s written by a bot and what’s real. Well guess what? We have real parties with real party photos. So we link, we have pages and pages for everything.
You want to throw a PAW Patrol party? Great. We got a whole theme and probably at least a hundred if not more parties that people have uploaded to our site. Well, we link to that page, but we link to it where it says Paw Patrol.
And I said, what we need is a link that says browse real PAW Patrol parties here and we link to real Paw Patrol parties because instead of me thinking, oh, you’re going to know just to click on the link that says “PAW Patrol,” no, you’re probably going to miss that.
But if I spell it out right there and say these are real parties, I might even say hundreds of real Paw Patrol parties, you are more apt to click because it makes sense to you as the person coming to the site who has no idea what this site is like. I have to spell it out for you.
You were just saying, GDPR, that sounds so awful and so complicated. But if you can go, no one, you’re a blogger, you need to know about this. But don’t worry, I’m going to break it down for you and make it not painful. It’s not going to give you a headache.
All you need to do is buy this template for $67. I’m going to make this thing that gives you a headache, not give you a headache. I’m going to give you exactly what to put in your blog. Boom, problem solved.
And I’m going to walk you through the whole thing so that you’re going to think I’m your best friend.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:30:45) – Yes.
Jillian Leslie (00:30:46) – I mean, it’s a whole different way of, oh my God, I have to create a TikTok. Oh my God, I have to put up a reel. Oh my God, I have to spit it out there. Instead it becomes, no, no, no, I’m your problem solver. I’m gonna make your problem go away.
And so, just feel like this, at least for me is where I’m seeing things shift. It’s almost like a sense of seriousness.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:31:12) – That’s really what you’re going to do. That’s really what blogging has always been too. It’s answering questions people are searching for, it’s providing solutions for the problems they’re trying to solve. It’s being that connector and sometimes you’re connecting them to one of your products.
Sometimes you’re connecting them to someone else’s and you’re getting an affiliate commission. I’d say those are the two ways that you have the most control as a blogger in terms of earning income.
Ad revenue is great. I feel like that’s always going to be a secondary method that’s nice to have. You can build that up and grow it a lot, but you also can’t control it when the RPMs change and the seasonality of Q4 versus Q2 and you know how much you earn.
I feel like you’ve got a lot more control in terms of affiliate marketing, selling digital products or even offering services if that’s something you want to do.
Jillian Leslie (00:32:05) – I interviewed a food blogger once and she sold food plans. And not only did she sell her own, but she recognized that she was in a very specific niche, a very specific diet niche, but people would come to her blog with other dietary needs.
So what did she do? She sold other people’s food plans that she believed in to help her audience. And it wasn’t just all about pushing people to buy her food plan.
And I thought to myself when she said, that feels counterintuitive. Why would I promote a possible competitor? Competitor, not an exact competitor. But found that this other product solved a problem that her audience could have and she could then benefit and make money from it.
I always thought, God, that’s so genius.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:32:54) – Always think about what is going to be the best solution for the person on your site. And then look at, how can I monetize telling them what their solution should be.
Jillian Leslie (00:33:05) – Exactly. So, let’s just pivot for a little bit in the little time we have left to talk about the legalese of blogging and how serious bloggers should take that.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:33:18) – Sure. So, it’s something a lot of bloggers want to bury their head in the sand about. Or they’ll use a free template or they think they have to hire an attorney to get it all right.
And yes, hiring an attorney is always going to be the best option, but not everyone can afford that. So, getting templates, especially over the last few years, GDPR came into effect in 2018.
Jillian Leslie (00:33:40) – Explain very briefly what GDPR is?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:33:44) – General Data Protection Regulation out of the EU. I don’t know if you remember, before this came into effect, you’d see headlines. Credit system was breached two years ago.
And all these data breaches that you were finding out years later, that your stuff was compromised.
Basically what GDPR and similar data protection regulations do is they require you to obviously be better at securing data if you hold any, but also to notify within a timely manner like 48 hours if there’s been a breach. So, people can actually protect their data.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:29) – Here’s one that we, for example, had to deal with. MiloTree pop-up app, you can grow your email subscribers with it. But it used to be back in the day, if you got my freebie, you didn’t have to disclose that.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:34:43) – I got your email.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:43) – Not only are you getting this, but you are agreeing for that. I can now spam you with email whether you like it or not.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:34:54) – We don’t spam. We are awesome business owners. We don’t spam people.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:58) – True. But you now have to make sure that you disclose that if in fact you consent you’re getting my freebie, I’m adding you to my list.
I do have a free eBook on GDPR, and especially with lists growth and how you can comply if you want that, that’s elizabethstapleton.com/resources. Just a free eBook on GDPR that really breaks it down.
It’s about not allowing companies to be sketchy. It’s really what it comes down to. And so, it’s not a bad thing that bloggers need to comply because it’s just requiring you to be open and honest with your audience, which I think is always going to make it easier to build trust.
Terms of conditions are saying, this is my site, my rules. So if you don’t like it, you don’t need to be here. These are my refund policy things. If you’re going to come after me, this is where you’re allowed to come after me at. It’s going to be my turf.
So, if you approach it from that perspective, I think it’s a lot easier to recognize the A the importance of it. But B, that’s not super scary or hard.
Certain affiliate programs might have additional requirements for disclosures. Amazon is famous for this. They want you to use specific wording.
So, disclosures and disclaimers, but also disclaimers just like saying, hey, like yes, this is a personal finance site, but I am not a financial advisor. This is not expert advice. This is my opinion, this is what I’ve learned. I’m sharing for informational purposes.
Or hey, I may be a nurse but this isn’t a medical site. Or if you take action on this, it’s not my fault if it doesn’t work out. Like I can’t guarantee you’re going to book 17 dog sitting clients in a day.
So, those sort of things, limiting your liability, having a clause in there that limits your liability. It says, “Hey, I’m not perfect. There might be errors on this site.” I’m telling you that there might be errors. Those are important terms and conditions.
Some of those can fall under terms and conditions. But terms and conditions I’d say are especially important if you’re going to be selling digital products or services.
There’s a lot of things you can do in there, but you really want to spell out your refund policy, your cancellation policy, things like, “Hey, if you want to sue me, you have to do it in this place.” Your jurisdictional policy or if you require arbitration.
So, your terms and conditions, if you’re just starting out and you’re not selling digital products and stuff, you could probably get away with waiting a while on those if you really want to. But they’re an absolute must.
Jillian Leslie (00:38:59) – Okay, but are you my girlfriend? Like, I don’t have to write this from scratch?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:39:04) – No.
Jillian Leslie (00:39:04) – Tell me, what do I do? I don’t know. You know, like what do I do?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:39:10) – So, if you’re wanting to get template through my lawyer, AI I have them. Actually the best deals on my site are bundles. I have the blogger essentials bundle, which is for brand new bloggers.
And then you can always upgrade once you buy that later to the website legal templates bundle, which have terms and conditions. It also has affiliate terms and conditions.
So, if you sell digital products and you have an affiliate program for your own products, you need terms and conditions for that as well.
And it comes with lots of other bonuses and here’s lC guide and here’s how you start your business with your secretary of state corporation site and here’s all these other things. GDPR step-by-step is included in those as well.
The way my templates work is if you buy them in the bundle is you get to use the template generator. So you fill out a form, it prepopulates your information into the template.
So, you’re not having to go through and be like, where are all the places where I have to change my name? Where are all the yellow highlights? I think there is one section of yellow highlights. Because it’s like, “Hey, if you’re not going to do this, you can delete this part.”
So, they’re super simple to use and then you just copy and paste on your site. So, those are my templates. There’s a lot out there.
Jillian Leslie (00:40:38) – Here’s my question. I’m a brand new blogger or I haven’t thought of this and I really need to do this. How much time would it take me from the moment I purchased your product to having it done on my site?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:40:54) – Maybe an hour.
Jillian Leslie (00:40:55) – Okay, good.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:40:57) – Maybe honestly like 30 minutes. It depends on how deep you want to dive in and make sure things are customized to you in terms of like, hey, I don’t need this clause. Or I do.
Each template has an explainer video that’s like, let me explain what all these things mean in here. So you can decide if you want to keep them or not. If you’re going to watch those an hour because they’re like 15 minutes each.
Jillian Leslie (00:41:22) – You’ve calmed me down. Even though we have all of this on our sites, it always gives me anxiety and makes my head explode. So, I love that you walked through what you need.
If you are a beginning blogger and what you need as your first upgrade, then am I good?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:41:45) – You’re good for a while. I’d say once you start hitting a certain point in income and global reach, that’s when you want to probably look at consulting with an attorney.
And getting some custom things and making sure you’re just not missing anything that’s specific to your area. Because I don’t know where you’re located, but Texas. I don’t know if Texas has any specific laws on this Right that they require online businesses to do.
There might be some specific weird jurisdictional thing that requires you to register a business license even as a solopreneur. But North Carolina you don’t, so there are little things like that.
Additionally, you will eventually.
The one area of law you can’t really DIY is trademark. You need to hire a trademark attorney if you want to protect yourself with a registered trademark.Once you reach the point of being able to afford that, I would reach out to an attorney for that purpose.
Jillian Leslie (00:42:52) – So, you’re saying to me, I can DIY it really, really quickly and it will hold me over for a while and then when I need more, legalese attention can pay for it.
Elizabeth Stapleton – Yes.
Jillian Leslie – I love that. That is so clarifying. And it’s funny, before we press record, I’m like, okay, let’s talk about the legal stuff. But like, I promise you it feels like medicine and you said we’re going to do it with a spoon full of sugar. And I feel like you have done that.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:43:23) – Thank you.
Jillian Leslie (00:43:24) – I really appreciate it. If people want to reach out to you, learn about both your blogging summit coming up. We talked about it in 2024 now, and also your legal stuff. Where should they go?
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:43:40) – Elizabethstapleson.com is where all the legal side of blogging is, and there’s lots of different articles on there that can help you and resources if you’re confused. And then blog or breakthrough.com is where the summit is. If you want to reach out to me and ask a question, shoot me an email. Hello@elizabethstapleton.com.
Jillian Leslie (00:43:58) – Say it’s slow.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:44:00) – I’ll repeat it. But like I said, I’m terrible at social media so if you reach out to me on social media, I don’t know when I’ll get back to you, but if you reach out to me by email, you will definitely get a response, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jillian Leslie (00:44:13) – Love it. Well, Elizabeth, I have to say this has been such a joy and I love that you have clarified my thinking on a lot of things. And on business growing. I really appreciate it. I want to say thank you so much for coming on the show.
Elizabeth Stapleton (00:44:30) – Thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun.
Jillian Leslie (00:44:32) – I hope you guys like this episode. I think one of my big takeaways is that I could actually hear about GDPR without my brain exploding. And that social media might not be this magic bullet we’ve all been led to believe it is.
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Other Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes You’ll Like:
- How to Avoid These 10 Digital Product Mistakes with Jillian Leslie
- How to Transform Your New Blog into an SEO Powerhouse with Kristi Dosh
- Start a Membership and Quit Your 9-5 with Amanda DiNovo
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