Blog Tip Thursdays: The Disclaimer Statement

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Hey guys, Tracey from I’m {not} Superhuman here.  Let’s talk about disclaimers, shall we?

Unless you have a degree that says something along the lines of, “You graduated and are now eligible to dispense medical/nutrition/fitness advice to complete and total strangers,” your blog probably needs a disclaimer.* And it’s not because you’re a terrible person posting about the glories of medium-rare chicken or fight clubs as fitness.

Here’s why: We live in a society where people sue because their coffee’s too hot. So if you post about your awesometastic almond butter, you’re risking a lawsuit from some random person on the other end of the Internet who tried the brand you recommended—and almost died of a peanut allergy attack.  It may sound like fun, but from what I hear getting sued isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

(Yeah, the chances of you being sued or otherwise getting in trouble from your blog is slim. But crafting a disclaimer and adding it to some page on your site is kind of like making airplane seats out of floatation devices. Sure, most flights don’t crash—and when they do, it’s not always in water—but most passengers like to know they’re there. Just in case.)

Let’s refresh. You, with a disclaimer:

You, without a disclaimer:

I think you get my point. Which means it’s time to talk about crafting a disclaimer that doesn’t say, “Please leave this blog before you fall asleep.” In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll reveal my disclaimer to you…

You should know…
I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. Consider the information on this site a useful resource, but talk with your doctor if you’re thinking of changing treatments, altering your current treatment, or doing any other medical-related stuff. In the end, how you treat your aches and pains are between you and someone with an MD after their name.

There are countless ways you can write your disclaimer statement. I’m only going to focus on two, mainly because I’m attempting to end this post before it qualifies as a novel.

1. The Make ’Em Laugh Theory
Face it, boring subjects are more interesting when they make you laugh. In order to add humor to yours, you first need to know what main point you want to get across. Is it that you’re not a personal trainer or physical therapist? That you’re not a doctor or registered dietitian?

Let’s say you blog about fitness, but need readers to know you really don’t have any qualifications. You might play up the fact that you blog about what works for you. For example:

Disclaimer: I’m not a personal trainer or a physical therapist. I take no responsibility for pulled muscles, sprained legs, or ligament tears. Exercise at your own risk.

Or maybe you blog recipes but want readers to know that you’re not responsible for foods they screw up. Try poking fun—at them or yourself. For instance:

Disclaimer: Results may vary. If you dislike any recipe on this blog, you have obviously messed it up somehow.

(I totally made those up on the fly. There’s a chance that none of you will find them funny. Please don’t tell me.)

2. The Straightforward Approach
If you’re not one for humor, or it doesn’t fit with the voice of your blog, don’t force it. Instead, explain your lack of credentials, but keep it short and sweet.

Major emphasis on the short. I’ve read plenty of websites that have page-long disclosure statements. You might think you’re being extra cautious by explaining all of the terrible ways your readers may end up mutilated or otherwise doomed should they take the same hike you did last week, but here’s what monstrous disclaimers do. They take eager readers like this:

And turn them into this:

So do everyone a favor and keep it short and simple. For someone who blogs about general health topics, that would include the ideas that

  1. You’re not a registered dietitian, doctor, or fitness expert.
  2. Your goal is to share your experiences, not dole out advice.
  3. Visitors should do their own research when it comes to their health.

Pinky swear you don’t need much more than that. A sample blurb:

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, registered dietitian, or fitness expert. The purpose of my blog is to share my experiences with food, fitness, and life—not to dole out advice. When it comes to your health and fitness, do your research.

And that’s it. Oh wait…

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on the art of writing disclaimers. Take my advice, but salt liberally.

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