Last updated on 20 May 2022 by William Blesch (Legal and data protection research writer at TermsFeed)
Privacy Policies are required by law for blogs too. The specific laws governing Privacy Policies vary by country, as do the specific clauses they should contain, but there are some commonalities we'll discuss in a moment.
Keep in mind that if your blog collects personal, private information for any reason and you're not compliant with privacy regulations, you are leaving yourself open to potentially severe consequences.
Now, you might not think that a blog is where you might collect personal information, but you would be wrong.
Consider, for example, that you might collect information, such as the name, email address, home address, and telephone number of someone filling out a form on your blog, etc. Analytics services also collect legally protected personal information, such as IP addresses. Literally hundreds of thousands of bloggers collect information defined as "personal" and "private" according to global privacy laws.
These laws include:
As a blogger, you should know that you can collect a wealth of personal information about your readers - information that can help you target your marketing efforts more effectively.
Like many other website owners, bloggers can use a wide range of technologies to draw in more readers and then convert them into customers and buyers. Some bloggers use affiliate marketing methods, and others engage in ecommerce.
And, as previously mentioned, still others allow advertisements on their blogs
However, these aren't the only technologies that capture the personal information of a blog's visitors. Indeed, the ways in which you may capture personal information are many and varied.
Below we'll get into the types of personal information that blogs can collect, and we'll explore some of the ways you can put that data to use.
First off, if you're a blogger and you aren't attempting to grow an email list full of those who read your blog regularly, you're leaving one of the best marketing tactics available to you on the table. It's an extremely effective way to reach current and potential customers. And, it's an excellent way to stay top-of-mind with customers who have already purchased from you.
With that said, many well-known bloggers like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income use email capture forms before allowing visitors to download a free report, case study, checklist, etc. Some also use them to ask users to sign up for a newsletter.
As shown in the image below, the form asks for specific, identifiable personal data points, such as first name and email address:
A super common feature on blogging websites is a form that allows visitors to get in touch with the blog's author. Similar to email capture forms, a contact form often captures many different personal data points.
Here's an example from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger:
Notice that the contact form asks for the following personal information:
Live chat can help you connect with readers in real time, and it can provide valuable insights into what makes your fans tick. If your blog engages in either ecommerce or affiliate marketing, these sorts of chat tools can also help turn casual blog readers into buyers.
However, the big deal for our purposes is that your readers have to give up some personal information if they wish to use the chat feature. Usually, that's an email address.
Similar in nature to Live Chats, a chatbot does much the same thing. It engages the blog's readers in a conversation. Chatbots usually answer questions or present FAQs, with the ultimate goal of getting the blog's visitors into a sales funnel.
Chatbots also collect personal information.
You know the value of ensuring your blog is up to date with fresh content. That's even more true of promoting that content. But creating new content regularly can be difficult, time-consuming, and downright overwhelming.
Luckily, social sharing tools help you get the word out. You might not think so, but each time one of your readers clicks to share a post, personal information is revealed through your blog's connection with the social platform in question.
Well-known blogger Yaro Starak places his social sharing icons in the sidebar of his blog as seen below:
Another common area where blog visitors typically give up personal information is within a blog's comments section. Usually, the visitor leaves a name and email address at a minimum.
Of course, this serves a dual purpose. You get the benefit of collecting useful personal information, and at the same time, you increase your blog's engagement and SEO.
Here's an example from ProBlogger:
If you monetize your blog through ecommerce, then your checkout page is an area that collects a massive amount of personal data. The data collection methods on these types of pages can be both direct and indirect.
Notice the many fields the checkout form asks the visitor to fill out before processing their payment. Each of those data points is also shared with third parties.
Here's an example from Great Jones, an ecommerce site with an excellent blog:
Notice just how much information the form above is asking from visitors.
Some tasks are better handled by third-party tools when it comes to blogging. For example, here are a few reasons why blogs will use third-party tools:
You get the idea. These third-party services are standard, and they each collect your visitors' personal data.
Did you know that your computer automatically sends information back to the site owner when you visit a website? This is done through cookies, and you can use them to collect a surprising amount of personal information about you.
Cookies are small bits of data that are stored on your visitors' computers or mobile devices. They are used to collect the data necessary to track your visitors' movements around the web, collect information about their activities, and target ads.
In the case of blogging, cookies are often used as part of display and pay-per-click (PPC) activities.
You don't have to be overly formal, but you also don't want to be excessively familiar. With that said, here's what to include.
One of the best ways to manage this section is to create a list using bullet points. There are no specific standards you have to follow here, but keep in mind that it can be hard to read when you bunch all the information up into a long paragraph.
Note how Yaro Starak lists the types of information collected on his blog:
Just as you must explain how you collect information, it's likewise essential to let your blog's visitors know how and why you use it.
For example, you may use the information for various reasons, including to provide any services, improve those services, personalize content, process payments, communicate with you, comply with laws and regulations, and more.
Here's how ProBlogger discloses this information:
It's easy to see that there will be situations where your blog's readers may not want their information shared with a company other than yourself. It is important that they know about the possibility of such sharing in advance.
That way, if they don't consent or would like more control over what happens to their information when it's shared with others, they can make an informed decision before starting on your site (or any other).
Here's how Smart Passive Income does this:
Here's how ProBlogger does this:
In addition, you should also list the contact information for your data protection officer (DPO) if you have one.
If you're located in Europe or collect the data of European residents, you must appoint a DPO
under the GDPR.
Here's how Smart Passive Income notes this and offers a way for readers to contact the blog to exercise the rights:
As a responsible blogger, you have to keep your blog's users in the know about any changes to how you will use their information. Keep them in the loop with clear and concise announcements on revised Privacy Policies so that everyone understands what's going on. Not only is this required by law, but it also builds trust between you and your readers.
This section is usually quite brief, but it is important enough to have its own heading and section. Here's how Smart Passive Income does this:
By now, you should understand how vital it is to be transparent with your customers about what information you're collecting and why.
It will also make it easier for them to contact you if they want to unsubscribe from your email list or update their subscription preferences.
More specific Privacy Templates are available over our blog.