Episode 19

Protecting yourself and your digital product with terms and disclaimers with Hans Skillrud

Typically I interview people who have launched digital products, but in this episode, I talk with Hans Skillrud about protecting yourself and your digital product with policies.

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Hans is the cofounder of Termageddon, overseeing agency partnerships and growth. He’s a former owner of a 12-person web design agency and has had experience both buying and selling agencies prior to running Termagedon full time. When not working, you can find Hans in his garage doing some (amateur) woodworking or programing arduinos to automate his house.

On the show, we discuss:

  • The three policies you need – privacy, terms and disclaimers
  • The importance of having plain language policies
  • Having customers agree to terms with a checkbox
  • How to properly use copyright dates
  • How to handle refunds, the three ways to create policies and MVPs
  • Gumroad and other third-party platforms
  • Digital product subscriptions
  • Having policies that reflect what you’re actually doing right now, not your vision for later

The three policies you need are:

  • Terms – The rules for your products or services. Information on use, refunds, cancellations, returns, etc. DMCA information should be included with your terms.
  • Privacy Policies – What information you collect from users and what you do with that information.
  • Disclaimers – If you have affiliate links, or certain types of information (health/fitness, legal or financial).

In Gumroad, you can add a custom field for terms and add the link to where your terms live.

Check out the Termageddon website and find Hans on Twitter.

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[00:00:00] Rene: Hey everyone. Welcome to Your First Digital Product, a show that helps maxed-out service providers create their first digital product so they can gain an additional income stream, grow their impact without increasing one-on-one work and experience more time freedom. On the show, I talk to business owners who have launched digital products and dig deep into how you can create, launch, and market your first digital product. I’m your host, Rene Morozowich. Let’s go.

[00:00:28] Hey everyone. Today I am here with Hans Skillrud, and Hans is a co-founder of Termageddon, overseeing agency partnerships and growth. He’s a former owner of a 12 person web design agency and has had experience both buying and selling agencies prior to running Termageddon full-time.

[00:00:45] Hey Hans, how are you?

[00:00:46] Hans: I’m good, Rene. Good to see ya.

[00:00:47] Rene: Yeah, you too. So tell us a little bit about what Termageddon is, just for people who may not know.

[00:00:53] Hans: Absolutely. So, um, Termageddon offers the most boring thing on this planet which are privacy policies, terms and conditions, disclaimers, and all the other policies one website owner needs to comply with laws, limit their liability and keep up to date with the ever-changing privacy law and consumer protection law landscape.

[00:01:11] Rene: Yeah, so many things. I’m getting all those emails every day. They’re like our terms have changed, our privacy policy has changed.

[00:01:17] We’re like, oh my goodness, I get it already and I’m, it’s hard.

[00:01:20] Hans: And I’m sure you open and read every single one of them, right?

[00:01:22] Rene: Yes, yes. Exactly right. For sure. So this episode is a little bit different. Um, you know, if you’ve been listening for a little bit, you know that typically we ask people about their first digital products, you know, and we go into, you know, the good and bad and, and ugly.

[00:01:36] And, uh, this is a little bit different because. We are curious. I, I’m curious. So that’s why we’re having this episode. I am curious what digital creators need to do to protect their content. So when I sell something, I don’t want people to steal it. I don’t want people to give it away. I, you know, I want it to be used in a certain way.

[00:01:56] And so can you give us some advice, um, on that? So what advice do you [00:02:00] have for digital creators to protect their content?

[00:02:03] Hans: Absolutely. Um, and I think before we go any further, it’s probably best to note, you know, uh, please note everything I provide today should not be considered legal advice. This is for informational purposes only. Termageddon is not a legal service provider.

[00:02:14] So, you know, being married to a privacy attorney, my life’s a giant disclaimer. So, um, But yeah, it all kind of boils down to just one simple thing, which is having a proper terms and conditions on your website. Um, so terms and conditions, otherwise known as terms of service, terms of use, or just terms help explain to your website users the rules to using your website.

[00:02:36] And that is a perfect place to display a copyright notice, a DMCA disclosure, a Digital Millennium Copyright Act disclosure, as well as discuss, um, the rules to purchasing digital products through the website. Refunds cancellations, stuff like that.

[00:02:50] Rene: Oh yeah. Okay, great. Um, so I should probably, I should outline these in the, in the show notes, like what specifically those things are.

[00:02:57] So, uh, what’s DMCA?

[00:02:59] Hans: So DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it’s basically a safe harbor for website owners, um, who could maybe accidentally using copywritten images or content without their knowledge. And a DMCA disclosure helps explain to users like, Hey, if I’m infringing on someone’s intellectual property or someone’s infringing on my intellectual property, here’s who you contact to submit such a request.

[00:03:22] And this, um, obviously it works two ways. Obviously, I would assume every listener here is not copying someone else’s work. Rather they’re wanting to moreso protect their work. But if something were to happen where maybe you put someone’s logo up where you never were allowed to, a DMCA disclosure helps create that safe harbor for your business where it significantly reduces your chances of being sued for copyright infringement.

[00:03:44] It also serves as a place where people can go and figure out who to contact if they see someone, uh, distributing your digital goods that are copywritten and distributing it without your consent or permission to do so. Uh, so it’s a wonderful little disclosure that can help, uh, protect [00:04:00] people. So.

[00:04:01] Rene: Yeah, that is a great point. Um, so we will assume that people are not, uh, when they’re creating content, they aren’t stealing from other people.

[00:04:08] Hans: That’s a good assumption to run today.

[00:04:10] Rene: Yes. But just like don’t pull your images off of Google images. Make sure that yeah, you have the, the proper copyright, you know, if you’re taking photos yourself, that’s great.

[00:04:18] Um, music, anything like that. There are free places to get music, um, or you can purchase music for use in products. Um, so yeah, definitely don’t, don’t steal stuff from other people. But moreso on the other end having these safeguards in place, um, can let people know, uh, not to steal stuff from you.

[00:04:37] And I think you’re a big proponent of this, uh, sort of plain language stuff. You know, these are really like dense, dense things. So do you advocate having something that people can actually understand?

[00:04:48] Hans: Absolutely. In fact, um, under privacy, uh, multiple privacy laws, which obviously is related to a privacy policy, multiple privacy laws, um, very specifically state that they need, uh, policies need to be legible and understandable.

[00:05:00] And I think that’s a good mindset to have when having any policies on your website, including a terms of service. So, mm-hmm, and yeah, in addition to the DMCA, the copyright notice, um, is a very valuable one too. A lot of people, um, you’ve probably seen the footer of websites. It says copyright 2023 or whatever year it currently is.

[00:05:18] But what you actually wanna do is have the copyright from the day you launched your website that year, um, spanning to the current year, um, thus giving you protections, uh, for ever since you launched your website and produced your own content. So, and then there’s additional disclosures that terms of service can, uh, display, which is the importance of people understanding they can’t take stuff from your website and, you know, penalties could be significant. You could sue them if they were doing it maliciously and things like that. So, uh, terms of service, protects yourself, limits your liability, um, and it gives you the right, um, to take action if, if things are being misused, um, through your website, against your own terms.

[00:05:57] And therein lies why it’s so important when people are [00:06:00] buying something from your website, especially in downloading a digital product. Or accessing a digital product that they agree to your terms of service with a checkbox. Right before they make purchase, they have to click. I agree. You can’t have it auto selected by default.

[00:06:13] They have to check the box saying, I agree to the terms of service. Uh, meaning that you’ve timestamped the moment they consented to the rules of the website, aka the terms and you’ve now entered into a contractual agreement, uh, where, Hey, I’m gonna give you this and in exchange you get this and here are the rules when you get this. If that makes sense.

[00:06:31] Rene: I love that. Yeah, that’s a great point. Um, and interesting that you say, you know, a date to and from, so like, let’s say they have the website up. So it’s 2023, uh, they put the website up in 2022, but they didn’t build the product until 2023 and they’re distributing it then, you know, should I put 2022 there just in case, or because that’s when they, as people, you know, came online? Or does it not matter in that case?

[00:06:56] Hans: So I would put 2022 in that scenario.

[00:06:58] Rene: Okay.

[00:06:58] Hans: Because I still have my domain, I probably put up a logo or, or mm-hmm, just even my business name. And that could already be considered, you know, intellectual property of yourself.

[00:07:07] So I would, I would have it the year you launched that website. Um, and I mean, you know, what’s the worst case? Uh, people see that you’ve been around a little bit longer than when you really got your product launched. So that’s a good reason as well, I think. Mm-hmm.

[00:07:19] Rene: But, you know, that could be a good thing too. Like, oh, like they’ve actually been around for a while. Yeah. And that is good.

[00:07:25] Hans: Yeah.

[00:07:25] Rene: Um, okay, perfect. So what about for people who are not selling on their websites? So maybe they’re using a third party platform? Obviously I don’t know every platform that has ever existed.

[00:07:37] Do you recommend anything in case they don’t have that checkbox or in case, uh, you know, maybe there’s no place to put those sort of policies on that platform? Is your advice maybe don’t use that platform or put them in another place or, you know, do you have any thoughts on that?

[00:07:54] Hans: Yeah, absolutely. So it is kind of unfortunately, uh, system, uh, dependent, uh, like it [00:08:00] depends on which platform you’re using. Um, yeah, as a general rule, if the, if the platform you’re using doesn’t give you the ability to get consent, not only to a terms, but also a privacy policy because you’re collecting data at that point, um, I hate to say, but yeah, you might wanna look at other providers.

[00:08:17] Mm-hmm. Um, I mean, it kind of speaks to the lack of care potentially that those firms may not take into account when, uh, providing a transaction system to download digital products. So, um, and, and you know, when people are like, by making this purchase, you agree to our terms and there’s no checkbox, it’s just a statement.

[00:08:35] I mean, that’s better than nothing, but it really, what I recommend is getting that checkbox clicked and consented because that gives you the timestamp. And that’s what I think is so critical. It’s the moment the user took the time to check the box, acknowledge there are rules to the site. I think it does boil down if you are using another, uh, a third party payment portal, which is very common and great.

[00:08:56] They’re built for a reason. They’re awesome. They make lives easier. Um, technically it is based on your relationship with that vendor. So when you create an account with that payment system, you probably agree to their own policies and terms, and I would bet the majority of them say you’re responsible for your own website policies and your own terms.

[00:09:17] Um, I would bet the majority of them do it, but I that it’s not guaranteed. Um, but assuming that that is, uh, the relationship you have with them, then they certainly should be offering you the ability to at least reference your policies. Mm-hmm, um, your website policies on that platform and, um, a terms of service on your own website could explain the rules to using, um, the, the checkout experience they have on a separate site as well.

[00:09:41] Rene: Yeah, that, that’s a great point. Yeah. I like that. Um, I wonder if another option could be to include, I don’t know, a shortened version or something with the product. Like let’s say you sell a, a PDF or an e-book, you know mm-hmm. At the end it says cleanly, you know, some small print or whatever.

[00:09:59] [00:10:00] Like, here are the things you know that are important here. If people are already maybe using other platforms and don’t have a place for people to consent, you know, would that be an option too? Like, well, when you open the product, uh, when you receive the product, you acknowledge.

[00:10:15] Hans: Kinda get like high level.

[00:10:17] Rene: Yeah. They’re, they’re in there.

[00:10:18] Hans: That’s a good one. That’s a great question. So there’s actually mixed opinions on that one actually though. Okay. Um, some attorneys will say, well, you know, that could be misleading cuz like, they only see that and now they just move on and they don’t read the rest. So, um, but personally where I stand, I’d like that as a consumer, I kind of like to see the things that everyone kind of has the most questions about.

[00:10:38] Mm-hmm, like, cancellations, refunds, um, you know, they’re, you know, I would say those are the big ones that like, that matter with regard to terms. Mm-hmm. With, um, if agreeing to privacy policies, it’s more like we don’t sell your data. Mm-hmm. Typically people like to see that. Um, uh, but yeah, with the terms, I personally like seeing those high level overviews.

[00:11:00] I just would want to just reiterate the importance of still having them agree to the terms. Mm-hmm. You could just have a simple statements like we have a 30 day refund policy, whatever it is.

[00:11:09] Mm-hmm, whatever your policy is. Um, and then, uh, and then please agree to the terms below, uh, and review all rules to the site. Mm-hmm. So, ugh, I’m not pumped about that wording I just said out loud. Usually, I can think a little bit more on the spot, but I would just allude to the fact that, hey, this is just a small segment of the terms.

[00:11:27] Mm-hmm. You still have to agree to all terms. So, okay. Um, just kind of notifying users of that fact. If you are wanting to pull out little details of your terms. And then I think this probably goes without statement, but I just wanna share it for the one person who may be listening where this becomes valuable.

[00:11:42] Make sure that your refund policy that you pull out and place above exactly matches your actual terms. You don’t wanna have confusing messaging. Mm-hmm. Cuz that’s where things can get really, uh, awkward and potentially problematic for the website owner.

[00:11:57] Rene: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Um, about the refunds.

[00:11:59] So [00:12:00] refunds and cancellations. Some people just don’t, don’t do, like once you buy the product, like you just don’t get your money back. I know that some people do that, it’s, you know, a lot easier. What about like the part where you don’t want people to share it or resell it?

[00:12:12] Would that come in the terms as well?

[00:12:15] Hans: Yep. Yeah, that’s a default, uh, disclosure. Uh, like within like the Termageddon generator. Um, it should be done with any website selling things, um, by default. Yeah. You can’t distribute this without our consent. Uh, should be a disclosure.

[00:12:28] Rene: Right. I do some web stuff now and, you know, I advise my clients there’s three ways that you can go about having policies. Some better than others.

[00:12:37] Uh, one, if you have an attorney, contact the attorney and have them write those policies for you, you know, for the website to account for digital products and so on. Um, two using a service like Termageddon, and I know there’s other services as well. And lastly kind of, you know, as a far off last writing them yourself.

[00:12:57] Yeah. So there are options out there. Um, you know, so I, I advocate for people to kind of get products launched quickly. Like I, I don’t really want people to have the idea that they have to spend so much of their time and money and life creating a product just to kind of validate something. On the other hand, it is good to have, uh, these things so that you know, you’re protected.

[00:13:21] Hans: Yeah. I love that mindset cuz I’m the same way, you know, it’s an MVP, a minimal viable product. Mm-hmm. It’s how do I get what I want to offer to the market as fast as possible with the minimum amount of features, the minimum amount of, you know, uh, widgets and stuff so that I can start to get feedback and, and I’m so thankful we launched Termageddon and, you know, um, we’re more of a SaaS, but technically it’s like a digital service.

[00:13:46] I don’t know, but, but still learned that lesson. Uh, we were lucky because I, I was building websites as well for years. Um, so I knew let’s get an MVP launch. And I’m so thankful that I did because all the things we had in our heads, we thought people would like, some loved [00:14:00] it. Others had other ideas that were like, oh, that’s way better.

[00:14:02] And then we would just, and like all you have to do now is listen to your customers and for feedback, and then you’re, you’re like literally good to go with running your business now. Like get your MVP launched as soon as possible because then you get feedback and that is just, that creates the snowball effect, which all you have to now do is listen to your customers and go, and you’re pretty much good to go.

[00:14:23] So, uh, but yeah, I understand policies can certainly be a roadblock or a bump in the road for sure to doing that. I would say if, you know, hiring an attorney could take too long or be too expensive. Mm-hmm, which tends to be, it usually is both, um, you know, generators exist that can help you get those comprehensive things put up.

[00:14:40] And one other thing. Refunds. I default to no refunds. Your terms of service is there as a last resort to protect yourself. And, and I’d rather deal with refunds on like a case by case basis.

[00:14:52] You know, if someone really had an issue and okay, I believe ’em, like, okay, I’ll just issue a refund. Just cause my terms say I don’t like, I can still issue one. No one’s gonna be mad at me that I issued someone a refund. Um, but they protect me by having a no refund policy in case someone tries to abuse the system.

[00:15:08] Rene: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. It’s kind of like specializing, you know, and you’re, you’re saying like, I wanna specialize in this area. You can take any work that comes your way, but you’re telling the world specifically like, overall, this is how it works.

[00:15:21] So the same thing. Yeah, no refunds. But if you come across one person who you know, for whatever reason, you just determine, it would just be, I wish I could just give them a refund. You can’t just give them the refund. So it’s totally up to you. But I do like having that policy. You know, it’s the same thing, like I don’t work on weekends, you know, my hours are nine to five.

[00:15:41] But I can also answer an email after six, you know? Yeah. Or after five if I want to. But you know, I’m just telling the world that this is my standard. This is the default. Yeah.

[00:15:50] Hans: That’s a great analogy. Yeah. I talk about policies obviously all day for a living. So, and I’ve never actually thought of that analogy, like I work nine to five, but I’ll still answer an email at six is such a [00:16:00] great example of what we’re talking about here.

[00:16:02] Rene: I think people can relate to it. If they’re freelancers or you know, people in this sort of space, they, they know, um, it’s great to set those expectations. You’re setting the expectations and then on a case by case basis, if you need to change them no problem.

[00:16:17] Hans: Love it. Love that mindset. It’s great.

[00:16:19] Rene: Cool. Okay, so what else should we talk about? Um, you mentioned the privacy policy and the terms. Is there anything else that, you know, we, we should talk about?

[00:16:28] Hans: Yeah. I’ll shed some light on privacy policies. You know, privacy policies I understand are not the most exciting things in the world. Um, but they are there for, well, obviously a legal reason and I think it’s just important for people listening to understand that people’s names, their phone numbers, their email addresses, their IP addresses. These can be regulated pieces of data under multiple privacy laws. So as a website owner, if you’re collecting that type of data through contact forms, payment portals newsletter subscription signups, you gotta remember that.

[00:16:57] You gotta find out the laws, privacy laws that apply to you because privacy laws protect people. They don’t really care where you’re located, so you gotta figure out whose personal information am I collecting and then make the disclosures required under those applicable laws. So a privacy policy, um, is what is the document that provides to your website users, their privacy rights, um, and acknowledges your privacy practices.

[00:17:18] And, um, that’s another document, uh, worth considering adding, uh, as well to your, uh, repository of policies.

[00:17:26] Rene: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:17:27] Hans: Hopefully we’re not losing listeners at a rapid pace as I’m trying.

[00:17:30] Rene: I’m gonna summarize it really well for people.

[00:17:32] Hans: Ok. There you go.

[00:17:34] Rene: I never know who’s gonna listen to any of these episodes, but you know, we’re doing a thing. I’m learning something and that’s great.

[00:17:41] Hans: Good.

[00:17:41] Rene: I know people like in the EU, like that’s a big thing. Like do you have customers in the EU and I would say with a digital product, you could maybe just have customers anywhere.

[00:17:51] It really depends on the content. I would say. If it’s something that’s regional or, you know, very specific, you might not have customers everywhere. But it’s not like an [00:18:00] in-person business, uh, or anything like that. Like you could have customers, uh, all over the place.

[00:18:05] And I know that there are a lot of different laws for different places, um, maybe with similar things in mind, but they’re written differently.

[00:18:14] Hans: Yep. They require different disclosures and everything, but you nailed it. Um, and there’s also different consumer protection laws which impact e-commerce websites, that a good terms and conditions will take into account.

[00:18:24] Residents of Ireland, I believe have a seven year default warranty on anything and everything they purchase, meaning that, as I understand it, they get a refund after seven years of buying something. I was like, well, what if I bought a car and after seven years I’m like, I don’t want my money back.

[00:18:41] Like, what? How does that work? So, yeah. Um, so yeah, consumer protection laws are certainly interesting. Privacy laws are as well. And yeah, digital products, you’re right, there’s obviously the niche digital products, but I’d imagine most people digital products would welcome business from anywhere. Mm-hmm. Um, and that’s awesome.

[00:18:56] I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Um, it’s just one of the challenges is how do you stay compliant with a multitude of privacy laws all over the world, um, that could start applying to, to the moment you start tracking a single visitor from the EU, or the moment you collect a single person’s email address from Canada, for example.

[00:19:15] Mm-hmm. So, yeah, that’s, that can get hairy. But, um, the good news, there are generators out there that can help if, if attorneys aren’t the route you want to go.

[00:19:22] Rene: Mm-hmm. And it’s like taxes. Uh, which is what I’m, I’m looking for a guest on taxes too, because taxes are a whole other thing, you know, that people need to take into account.

[00:19:32] Who do you need to collect taxes for? Where do you need to remit those taxes? For people in the service space who are just starting with digital products, it is something.

[00:19:41] Hans: Yeah.

[00:19:41] Rene: That you should at least look into a little bit.

[00:19:44] Hans: I agree. I think, um, that should be a, a variable you take into consideration when working with your credit card processors.

[00:19:52] Mm-hmm. When selecting a credit card processor. So, you know, we use Stripe, which is obviously, probably, I think the biggest processor for digital. [00:20:00]

[00:20:00] Rene: Um, surely the easiest. Compared to PayPal.

[00:20:03] Hans: Oh boy. Yeah. And, and you know, it’s been so nice cuz at the time of this recording, it’s the beginning of 2023 and we’re already getting all the data we need from them for tax purposes for each state, country, all that stuff.

[00:20:14] So it’s been so nice and they like even have modules where you can just add taxes on top of where you take transactions and so forth. So yeah, that’s a good, uh, factor to take into consideration. Mm-hmm, when selecting a vendor for your processing needs.

[00:20:29] Rene: Yeah, for sure. You mentioned disclaimers. Mm-hmm, and that’s more for what health and fitness advice.

[00:20:34] Hans: That’s right.

[00:20:35] Rene: And affiliate links.

[00:20:36] Hans: Yep.

[00:20:37] Rene: And anything else? I forget.

[00:20:38] Hans: Oh, you keep it up. But like, I’m going to have to put you on Termageddon payroll here.

[00:20:43] So, uh, disclaimers are additional disclosures you make, um, as a separate document called a disclaimer. Um, that helps further your, limit your liability as a website owner if you’re saying things on your website that could be, um, misunderstood.

[00:20:56] Mm-hmm. So you want to just clarify that in a disclaimer. So offering affiliate links and explaining to users, you know, Hey, I have an affiliate relationship with X, Y, Z companies. So if you click a link on my site, make a purchase on that site, I may receive a commission.

[00:21:09] Um, if your website offers anything that could be seen as health advice or fitness tips, if you offer anything that could be seen as legal advice. Mm-hmm, um, if you display ads from third party companies who pay you to put ads on your website. Not that common, but maybe common if you have a blog mm-hmm, that’s really popular and people wanna pay for exposure.

[00:21:26] Um, or if you sell any health products, that’s another good one. Um, health products, like diet pills, essential oils, nutrition supplements, uh, you know, weight gain or weight loss pills, weight gain pills, whatever it is. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You just need to disclaim it. And, and I like to think of it as, you know, you’ve probably seen a commercial during, like a football game or, or some sort of, uh, just in TV where you see a commercial for, um, um, a, a medical prescription.

[00:21:52] And you know, there there’s typically like someone walking around. There’s nice, you know, orchestra music or something, but then the final five seconds, there’s someone talking [00:22:00] like a hundred miles an hour. Mm-hmm. Saying like, if you’re pregnant, don’t eat this. If you’re, you know, you know all this.

[00:22:04] Rene: If you’re allergic to it, don’t take it.

[00:22:06] Yeah, yeah. Well, of course I’m not gonna take it if I’m allergic to it. I never know why they say that.

[00:22:10] Hans: Yeah. Like, if you start feeling like you’re about to die, call your physician immediately. Yes. Call 9 1 1 immediately. I’m like, oh boy. But those are disclaimers, and that is certainly important, um, uh, for website owners as well, when your content could be misunderstood.

[00:22:23] Um, you just want to clarify that in a disclaimer.

[00:22:25] Rene: So what about, uh, financial advice? Anything on that?

[00:22:28] Hans: Yeah, that’s another great one. Yes. Sorry, that, that’s another good one.

[00:22:31] Rene: Is there a list of that somewhere? I wonder if that’s.

[00:22:34] Hans: Um, well, it’s typically about like not guaranteeing results, like, you know, please know. Mm-hmm, we can’t guarantee results.

[00:22:40] Rene: Okay.

[00:22:41] Hans: It’s a pretty straightforward thing.

[00:22:42] Rene: Okay. That makes sense.

[00:22:43] Hans: But it’s, um, but it’s important. Mm-hmm. Because people sometimes may not understand that. So

[00:22:48] Rene: Yeah. So those three, so those, so two, if you’re not, you know, having affiliates, giving health and fitness advice or whatever, those two are the big two to have privacy policy because you’re collecting data and terms, uh, for getting the rules.

[00:23:02] What is acceptable to do with that.

[00:23:05] Hans: Yes, exactly.

[00:23:06] Rene: Just to kind of distill it down for people.

[00:23:08] Hans: Yeah, yeah. In the terms, we’ll always say things like, you know, you can’t spam our, like, you can’t spam us, you can’t copy anything from our website without our consent. Mm-hmm, um, it’s, it’s things that you read and you’re like, okay, yeah, of course, but mm-hmm. Well, it’s important that it’s in there.

[00:23:22] Rene: Yeah, because if it happens to you.

[00:23:25] Hans: Exactly.

[00:23:25] Rene: You wanna be covered.

[00:23:26] Hans: It’d be frustrating to have someone buy something from you and then say, Hey, get it for free here. You know, like, that’s not cool. Yeah. No one would like that, but that gives you the right to send cease and desist orders and things like that, so. Mm-hmm.

[00:23:38] Rene: Even things like sharing logins. Like when, you know, say even having something like, Hey, you bought this. Like, yes, you could resell it, you could package it up as yours and sell it. Um, even just sharing that login with your friend, like even saying, hey don’t do that. Like this is for you and for you only.

[00:23:54] Yes. You know, the purchaser.

[00:23:56] Hans: Yeah. That, that, um, terms of service helps [00:24:00] give you the right to do, like, delete their accounts and, you know, obviously pursue legal action if your business has been damaged, uh, because of their actions. Yep.

[00:24:08] Rene: Cool. Nice. Awesome. Yeah. Okay. So that, that kind of clears it up for me.

[00:24:12] Um, yeah. So any, any other things? Any other things that we forgot?

[00:24:17] Hans: I actually have a question for you out of a personal interest. Um, at the time of this recording, Gumroad has taken on quite a bit of PR re uh.

[00:24:25] Yes, PR nightmare fees, their fees.

[00:24:28] That’s kinda wild, right?

[00:24:30] Rene: So for most people, for the, the lower level people, the fee was 9%. So going to 10% I isn’t really a huge deal. Um, okay, but so I, I’ve been doing some testing with this, trying to figure out exactly what the fees are. So looking at, so with, with Gumroad, you know, again, at the time of this recording, you can connect your PayPal account and your bank account. So with PayPal it looked like they only took 7%, but then PayPal took a cut too. So the fees on these platforms are really something to, you know, to look at and to look into. Um, also Gumroad. So it affected people who were selling much more, you know? Okay. Because they were paying maybe two or 3% and now they’re gonna have to pay 10%.

[00:25:14] So it’s a bigger deal for them, I would think. Um, but so they collect VAT for EU residents, but you are on your own to collect for other people, so Oh, wow. As I understand, and again, this, I’m not an accountant or anything like that, but, as I understand as a Pennsylvania resident, I am to collect taxes for people in Pennsylvania who buy any, you know, digital products that I have and remit those taxes.

[00:25:44] Um, it is unclear to me at this point if I need to collect taxes for other states and remit those. To those states, you know, it’s very confusing and there’s no central place, you know, to find this information. Um, [00:26:00] but I’ve been comparing other platforms and Lemon Squeezy, I dunno if you’ve heard of them.

[00:26:04] Um, great platform.

[00:26:06] Hans: Excellent name.

[00:26:06] Rene: Yeah, it is a great name. Yeah. They are the merchant of record and they do all of the taxes on your behalf. So their fees are 5% plus your credit card fees. Um, their interface is very nice and. Um, like I, I have a digital product and I’ve listed it on a couple different places and, you know, had some sales and are tracking it through.

[00:26:26] And, um, the only drawback for, again, for like new, new creators is that the payout has to be at least $50.

[00:26:35] Hans: Okay.

[00:26:35] Rene: So if you have a $15 product, you have to sell a few to get that payout. They’re always kind of holding some of your money. But if you price it right, if you price it at like the $54 mark, you should be able to get your money on every sale, you know, on the Friday that they send it out or whatever.

[00:26:51] So, you know, there’s, there’s little things like that in each of these platforms. Um, and there are so many. There are so many platforms, so, so, so many, you know, and if you have a website, you can do in inherent things like Woo Commerce or, you know, Easy Digital Downloads. Nice. You know, or if you don’t, you know, you could buy like ThriveCart as a lifetime deal or you could use a service like, um, you know, a lot of the, the Teachables and the Thinkifics and the Kajabis and the Podias have those features available as well. And sometimes they have like a free version where you can sell one or two digital products and then you go to a monthly fee. So it’s, you know, it’s really like, do you wanna pay the monthly fee up upfront? It’s, it’s very complex. Very complex, complex. I think it’s kind of may be a parallel to, you know, privacy laws and things like that.

[00:27:42] Being very complex. You offer a service to help people with that, to help people distill that information down into, you know, the most important points. And that is my goal here, is to help people launch their products, to give them, you know, I’ll go and do all the research. And based on what you tell me, I [00:28:00] can recommend a platform for you.

[00:28:01] You know, if you already have a website or you don’t, or you already have an audience or you don’t, you know, I can kind of guide you through that. So that’s, I dunno, it’s a parallel there.

[00:28:09] Hans: Yeah, yeah. No, I, I understand that for sure. Um, yeah’s a long answer. No, no, that’s great. And um, it reminds me of the fact that I had imagined.

[00:28:19] When Gumroad told everyone about this update, um, they probably said, you know, we’ve changed our terms of service. Mm-hmm, that’s probably how they started off their email. Um, and, and therein lies, you know, the, the control you have as a website owner, you get to control your terms of service. You can change the rules as time goes on.

[00:28:36] You have to notify your users under certain circumstances. Um, but, you know, it’s obviously important to remember that terms of service can create some negative responses if you aren’t careful in thinking about your audience as, as best as you can. So, um, it’s a good example there. So, um, also I wanna ask you, do you have, um, do you think audience members would be, um, doing digital product subscriptions?

[00:29:00] Do you think that’s worth talking about for terms of service?

[00:29:02] Rene: Um, we can talk about that. I don’t know. Um, my, like, I, like I mentioned, my approach is more like MVP, get something launched, you know, and a subscription comes in the future, you know? So the show is Your First Digital Product. I mean, but really, like, I hope you keep going.

[00:29:17] I hope you launch some more. I hope you keep listening. So, and that is, you know, we, I talk a lot about like the, like a product ladder, you know, of having maybe free content lead into a small, you know, paid product, maybe that leads into like a one-on-one consulting with you, or maybe it’s a group or maybe it’s a membership or maybe it’s a subscription. So yes, that is something that, you know, maybe people are moving towards after they create their first product. So yeah. What do you have to say about subscriptions or memberships?

[00:29:44] Hans: I love, I, I just, I love that mindset cuz it builds people up. It brings your biggest fans to the a, you know, to the final show, which is either a subscription or book me for consultations and stuff, but it gives them, it, it feeds them along the way. Mm-hmm. And constantly [00:30:00] feeding ’em with value. So love that mindset and yeah. I was just gonna note, if you do have a subscription, uh, system, it is your terms of service that would explain the rules to the terms or to the subscription.

[00:30:09] So you know the frequency at which you charge the subscription. How soon can someone request a cancellation prior to them being charged for a renewal. Uh, can they rescind their subscription? Meaning they just bought the subscription? Do they have a right or not to just like have kinda like buyer’s remorse.

[00:30:25] Mm-hmm. Three days later. Mm-hmm. And then cancel. So those are yet again, things you want to consider for your terms if you do launch subscriptions. One thing that’s important though, if you’re sitting there listening to this and you’re like, I have this big vision for what I wanna launch, and I’m gonna get the subscription in there now into my terms.

[00:30:40] Well, if you’re not, if you don’t actually have a subscription model within your website, that could create customer confusion, which is rule number one on what to avoid. So you only wanna launch like the subscription discussion within your terms once you actually have a subscription feature within your website.

[00:30:54] So that’s what I wanted to note.

[00:30:56] Rene: Yeah, that’s a great point. Um, because I, I do think that sometimes people approach the policies with like, well, someday I’m going to, like, even, like, I’m gonna collect email addresses for email marketing. I don’t have a list now, but someday I’m going to do that. But yeah, I can see how that is, that could be confusing for people to like, oh wait, that’s not, that doesn’t apply right now.

[00:31:16] So, yeah. And I think it would keep it more trim for you. Like just disclose what’s happening right now. Yes. When it changes. You know, make the update, change that, and disclose what you need to disclose.

[00:31:26] Hans: Yeah, and don’t forget. One. It’s yet again, one other thing that we have to do whenever doing something new, but you know, we’re talking regulations.

[00:31:33] We’re talking about customer satisfaction too. So it’s a good thing to just always have in the back of your mind, you change up your website. You should take a look at your policies, make sure they accurately reflect your current business practices.

[00:31:44] Rene: And it helps you, right? It protects you because you don’t ultimately, like, yes, you want happy customers, but you also don’t want to, you know, have something bad happen to you as well.

[00:31:52] Do you recommend yearly or you know, to, to double check your, your policies? Is it kind of like changing the batteries in your smoke detector? [00:32:00]

[00:32:00] Hans: Uhhuh. So yeah, a lot of privacy laws say at least once a year. So that would be my, my recommendation, even though that’s a privacy law, we’re talking about terms today, I would say that’s a good starting point, like mm-hmm.

[00:32:11] Have that calendar invite sent to yourself or, all right, let’s spend an hour, let’s review this. Or however long it takes, you know, but, uh, 30 minutes, whatever it, however, longer terms are just set aside the time once a year. I know it’s not the most exciting part of your day, uh, but it’s a good refresher.

[00:32:26] Rene: Yeah. Yeah. And you feel good doing it. Like I have a ClickUp task, uh, a yearly ClickUp task, and it has a, my emergency plan attached to it. Mm-hmm. And so every, it’s, you know, every year it’s like, Hey, update your emergency plan. So I look it over, okay, well this has changed. I don’t use that anymore. I don’t do this.

[00:32:43] You know, send it out to my emergency people. Plans updated for the year. Check it off. Like I feel good. I feel like that’s awesome. You know, it’s so, I don’t know, little things like that. And I think January and February are good months to do that because really like, what else are we doing here at this point?

[00:32:57] Hans: Like, that’s so true.

[00:32:59] Rene: Okay. All right. So any last things, any last things that we didn’t mention that we should mention?

[00:33:04] Hans: Um, you know, I think more than anything just, uh, reiterating that like, um, you know, policies and protecting yourself and educating your clients on the rules to use on your website. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world. I think I said that like 10 times in this recording. But it’s something that protects you and it’s something that’s there for a legal obligation and just to help your consumers.

[00:33:24] So you know, even if you don’t read policies, that’s not to say your clients don’t. And like when you show a comprehensive set of policies, you’re demonstrating your respect for those people’s privacy, their rights, um, the rules to using your website. You’re respecting your own product even more. So I would say for all those reasons, it’s a good, good enough, in my opinion to consider, you know, mm-hmm,

[00:33:44] investing a little bit of time, uh, to making sure you’re doing things right.

[00:33:48] Rene: Yeah, exactly. And I think it feels good, you know, I do not one of those, it’s like exercising, right? It doesn’t feel, feel good afterwards. You’re like, oh, I’m really glad I did that.

[00:33:56] Hans: That’s so true. It worked out today, uh, at five and it was the worst [00:34:00] 30 minutes ever. But afterwards I felt like I could take over the world. So.

[00:34:04] Rene: I, me too. There’s this, I’m working on through this program and this one woman, I’m like, Ugh, I don’t like her. Like, I just, I’ll be glad when it’s over, but yes, I’m glad that I did. It felt good afterwards. So. Yeah. Cool. Yes. Awesome. Okay, so tell us where people can find you online.

[00:34:20] Hans: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, termageddon.com and our footer is links to all of our, you know, business profiles and stuff. But me personally, I am on twitter.com, um, twitter.com/deepspacehans. So feel free to follow and I’ll follow you back and we can chat it up.

[00:34:36] Rene: Yay. Awesome. Thanks so much. I’ll talk to you soon.

[00:34:38] Hans: All right, thanks Rene.

[00:34:39] Rene: Hey, thanks for listening. I’d love to continue the conversation in your inbox. Email SUBSCRIBE to hey at yfdp.show or sign up in the show notes to get bimonthly emails about how you can create, launch, and market your first digital product. Can’t wait to see you there.