Side Hustle Legal Q&A with Mariam Tsaturyan

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Mariam Tsaturyan

Are you operating online fully compliant with GDPR and CCPA regulations?

Do you have the right type of liability insurance to cover you should the worst case happen?

If you’re unsure about any of the legal stuff surrounding you, your business, or side hustle, it should be a lot clearer by the end of this episode.

This is because Mariam Tsaturyan from FreelanceandMarketing.com has graciously agreed to do some legal listener Q&A for us in today’s show.

She’s a licensed and practicing attorney, who helps bloggers and online business owners navigate the often-murky waters of legal regulations and compliance.

Tune in as we tackle some of the big topics like entity selection, GDPR, and liability insurance. Then we’ll dive into some specific questions from the Side Hustle Nation FB group.

Should I Register as an LLC When Starting Out?

“It really depends on the type of business you have,” Mariam told me.

Registering as a corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) comes down mostly to the risk involved in your business.

If your business or side hustle is in what Mariam described as “high-risk” areas she advises you do so. Areas such as medical and legal fields, or something that can affect someone’s financial situation or wellness are considered high-risk.

Forming an LLC or a corporation will ensure your personal assets, like your home, car, savings, etc are safe if someone tries to sue you.

Is Blogging About High-Risk Topics High Risk?

If you’re blogging about something like home repairs that could potentially be costly to the reader if they take your advice and something goes wrong, Mariam said you could still be liable.

She said, as a blogger you need to ask yourself:

“Is there a chance that somebody will come upon my blog, read what I wrote, and act on it?”

If the answer is “yes”, you should protect yourself by forming an LLC. There’s a chance the person will come after you if they suffer losses taking your advice.

You also need to have a disclaimer on your site.

Does It Matter Where I Incorporate?

Mariam said it used to matter where you register your company, especially for larger companies.

It now makes more sense to register your company in the state you live, both from a financial and logistical standpoint.

“It’s considered best practice to form your corporation or your LLC in the state where you are,” Mariam explained.

You will likely end up paying more tax in the long-run if you form your LLC outside of your state. It’s also more complicated to navigate the paperwork, so unless you’re a million-dollar company Mariam recommends registering in your state.

Can I Run Multiple Different Businesses Under One Company?

One Side Hustle Nation member asked if they can run several different side hustles under one LLC.

“Yes, you can,” Mariam told me.

All of his businesses can have their own DBAs (Doing Business As). This way they are seen as separate businesses with their own names if he wishes.

Mariam pointed out, however, if one of those businesses is sued, all the businesses under the same LLC can be held liable.

GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – What Do Bloggers Need to Know?

GDPR looks and sounds complicated, but Mariam said it’s not that scary when you understand the direction behind it.

“If you think of GDPR in terms of giving choice to the person and getting their consent first before doing anything, the whole process just becomes simpler,” Mariam said.

Think about your customers, visitors to your site, and email subscribers as people, not just numbers. They deserve to have a choice when it comes to joining your mailing list, or if you’re keeping and sharing any of their information.

She offered a GDPR checklist, which you can download for free at freelanceandmarketing.com/gdpr-checklist to check if you’re compliant.

What About the CCPA – California Consumer Privacy Act?

Mariam said if you’re already GDPR compliant there is just a couple of minor tweaks you need to do to make your site CCPA compliant as well.

These are either:

  • Setting up a separate CCPA policy on your site, or
  • Updating your privacy policy to include the CCPA language

You need to include a link that’s visible on your homepage that will take someone to a page called, “Do not sell my personal information”. (Though there are some exceptions for small companies.)

This link will take someone to a page with a clear method of contacting you, and ways they can let you know that you don’t have permission to use or sell their data.

They can also ask you to provide or remove any data relating to them from your third-party software tools that are collecting and storing their data.

If this sounds like a headache, Mariam said not to be too concerned. As long as you’re doing everything you can and making an effort in good faith to comply, you’re good.

If something is found to not be completely right on your site regarding GDPR and CCPA you’ll be given 30 days to fix it.

Business Liability Insurance – Who Needs It, What It Covers, Where to Find It?

Mariam explained there are two different types of business liability insurance: General and Professional.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance that protects you and your business against common law tort claims. Things like personal injury on your premises, copyright and trademark infringements, liable and slander cases, etc.

Who needs it? – Mariam said it’s more important for larger businesses and businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance is mandated for certain “high-risk” professions in some states. Think attorneys, accountants, architects, and even loan signing agents.

In some states, it’s not mandatory, but it’s a judgment call on your part. If you want to protect yourself against being sued because a client has had some kind of loss after taking your advice, you should take professional liability insurance.

Who needs it? – “Unless you’re in a high-risk field, I wouldn’t worry about professional liability,” Mariam said.

What About Product Liability Insurance?

If you’re selling physical products online, you might be wondering if you need product liability insurance to cover yourself against defective projects.

Mariam said unless you created the product yourself or had prior knowledge that the product was defective you probably won’t be held liable. You may be sued by a customer as the seller, but you’ll be able to counter-sue the manufacturer.

What Kind of Disclaimers Do You Need for Investing Sites?

The financial niche is considered a high-risk area. There’s no specific disclaimer as there is for medical and legal areas, you’ll need to put together a disclaimer specific to the area of finance you’re in.

There is something Mariam said you should include though, and that’s an “anti-guarantee clause.”

In this clause, you want to make it clear that if someone acts on the information you’re providing on your website, you are not giving any guarantees they’ll have the same success.

Some Questions From the Side Hustle Facebook Group

Denise asked: I love to cook and teach children’s cooking classes. I would love to edit and publish a collection of old-time herbal remedy recipes. I do not intend to give medical advice, but what kind of disclaimers would I need and would I be vulnerable to legal action?

Mariam said she needs to consider how likely it is someone will rely on the information she’s providing and the risk they can harm themselves.

Denise will need to include a disclaimer on her site, making it clear she’s not a medical professional and advising people not to take her advice as such. She should also cover herself against allergies from her recipes and other relevant things.

You can see examples of medical disclaimers by looking at some of the larger websites selling supplements, herbal remedies, and such like.

Maury asked: How much protection is really offered by disclaimers?

Mariam explained that a disclaimer isn’t necessarily going to stop someone from suing you, but it does give you grounds to defend yourself.

Whether or not you can be held liable depends on a number of factors. One thing Mariam did say is that the more thorough and detailed your disclaimed is against the possible things you could be sued for, the more chance you have of fighting off a case.

Do I Need to Do Anything to Copyright My Work Online?

“Copyright is automatic. From the moment that the work is published you have automatic copyright protection for that,” Mariam explained.

If anyone copies your work you can send them a Cease and Desist Letter or file a DMCA takedown notice.

If you feel like you need to be compensated and the copycat is earning money from your work, start with a Cease and Desist letter as you can also send an invoice. If it’s just a case of bots or people copying your blog posts, a DMCA takedown notice is the better option.

Mariam has a free DMCA template on her site if you need one or want to see the legal wording.

Mariam’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

“Do the best you can.”

Links and Resources from this Episode

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