There are many more than 10 things fitness professionals should keep in mind when blogging, but here are 10 things that will help you be successful as a fitness professional who blogs, and perhaps more importantly, will help you avoid legal trouble before it happens.
- Know your audience.
Like any blogger, fitness professionals who are venturing into blogging should ensure that you are meeting the needs of your audience. Who are you writing for? What questions do they have that you are equipped to answer? What are you not equipped to write about?
If your blogging includes recipes, keep in mind that allergies and food intolerances are an increasing concern. You can indicate possible substitutions, or at least acknowledge the allergens in the recipe. You may also want to consider adding a disclaimer related to the risk of making recipes from your blog being assumed by the reader. This could also be a great opportunity to collaborate with a food blogger or sports nutritionist on recipes that might work well for your audience.
- What is the purpose of your blogging: is it commercial?
Is your blogging commercial? The definition of commercial in this context is using content (whether words, images, sound etc) in or for a business or directly/indirectly for financial gain. If you are blogging as a fitness professional in service of your business, the answer is more than likely, yes. What this means is that you specifically need to be aware of commercial licensing for images, as well as developing your blogging voice to work hand in hand with your overall brand voice.
- Use of Images – copyright and licensing
One area where bloggers can find themselves getting into hot water is in relation to including images in their posts they don’t have a license to use. There are different types of licenses and developing an understanding of these, alongside a working understanding of how copyright works should be considered an investment in the future of your business as a fitness professional. It is particularly important to ensure that you have the right agreements in place to be able to use client before and after images if that is part of your blogging content strategy. An attorney can help you develop such an agreement with your clients; in addition, our article on using before and after images of clients is worth reading.
- Liability for injury as a result of reading your blog posts/advice
In presenting yourself as a fitness professional while blogging, you open yourself up to the risk of liability for damage or loss – especially when readers might follow your advice and find that things go awry. One way to address this is through an appropriate disclaimer, some examples of which can be found here. If you’re interested in exploring other liability risks facing fitness professionals, read this article.
- Disclaimers as to knowledge and expertise.
Are you a personal trainer? A strength and conditioning coach? A physical therapist? A Doctor? A nutritionist? To what extent will your blog explore topics that you have been trained to offer advice or education. One of the most important disclaimers to include on a website is one related to knowledge and expertise, an example can be found here. If you are offering nutrition and exercise advice, this article about disclaimers and best practices in relation to nutrition and exercise advice is likely to have information that will be of assistance.
- Results disclaimers
Are you promising amazing results? Are you showing before and after images of current or former clients? Including a Results Disclaimer on your website might help alleviate the risk of liability should a reader rely on your advice (especially if they have paid you money for that advice) and not get the results they believe you have promised. We know you want your clients to succeed, but every person is different and brings with them a genetic and physical history that you are not always fully made aware. This article has some examples of results disclaimers.
- FTC guidelines for sponsorship
If you are interested in brand sponsorship or representation, and specifically receiving product or compensation in return for blogging about a product or service, you will need to become familiar with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines on sponsorship. Concisely, this involves ensuring that you declare that you have a received a product or service in a prominent place on the specific post where you are discussing that product or service.
- Original Content
There are both technical and legal reasons why original content is arguably the best way to go for fitness professionals; technically because Google will penalize your site if the content is repeated exactly from another website, and legally because you don’t want to find yourself subject to a claim of copyright infringement if you use content written by someone else without permission. If you choose to work with a guest blogger, work with your attorney to develop an agreement that addresses copyright licensing and originality.