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The Hidden Costs of Blogging for Money (or for Free!)

By (view all posts by DCStewart)
at 1:24PM Friday August 27, 2010
under Newsworthy

It starts out innocent. The idea of starting a blog to post up rants about personal experiences or critiquing service providers and products. Seems harmless, but many are learning the hard way and paying the price.

While it typically costs nothing to set up a blogger account and develop an audience of readers, there have been many changes over the last several years that might encourage you to pause before clicking the submit button.

Seasoned and new take note as the numbers of blogger defamation lawsuits, city fees and insurance costs are on the rise. Where might you end up incurring fees?
City Fees

Freedom of speech isn't so cheap for Philadelphia blog owners these day. The city recently asked those with blogs to pay a $300 business privilege fee. While the City Council is offering some leniency and not taxing them until they make the first $100k.



Insurance Coverage

According to the Citizen Media Law Project, there has been a 70% jump in U.S. lawsuits since 2006. Most home insurance policies now offer a supplemental coverage, but at a cost of $500 or more annually. This might be ideal for those who earn money and want peace of mind at the end of the day.

As reported by a Bloomberg article:
"Some bloggers may be covered for online lawsuits under the personal liability coverage of their homeowners or renters insurance policies. MetLife Auto & Home, a unit of New York- based MetLife Inc., and Chubb Corp. in Warren, New Jersey, include coverage for damages caused online."
Filing a complaint through the BBB might be a less risky way to be heard when expressing opinions about services. Better Business Bureau statistics show an increase of about 40% for the number of complaints filed. 70% of those complaints were resolved.

Anonymous inflammatory comments about people or companies can be used and site owners are expected to relinquish your personal data to prosecutors upon request, as stated in an L.A. Times article:  "'A lot of people don't know how easy it is to track them down' once a lawsuit is filed, said Sara J. Rose, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer in Pittsburgh."

Federal Trade Commission

The FTC wants full disclosure on sponsored posts--meaning any monetary and/or goods received in exchange for a blog post. 

Read More Tips Here:

Top Ten Rules for Limiting Legal Risk
Media Bloggers Association

Now get out there and post/comment! But use this post as a cautionary tale when voicing your opinions below...