Online courses have become all the rage in the online business world and for good reason!
They’re a great addition to your monthly income and they allow you to move from serving 1:1 to serving one to many.
Many times service providers who start out offering 1:1 services come to a point in their business where they really want to serve MORE people at one time!
And one of the easiest ways to do that is to create a course that covers a very specific curriculum and offers special bonuses for members only.
Oftentimes this looks like extra coaching calls, bonus resources, easier access to you for questions, etc.
The beauty of online courses is that you get to make it whatever you ultimately want and design it in a way that works for your business and specifically serves your audience.
I’m a big fan of courses and have purchased many myself at different times throughout my business journey.
In addition to buying courses, I’ve also created and launched my own, so I’m well aware of all of the time, energy, and money that can go into this project.
Like anything in business, you want to make sure that you do it RIGHT, so you often spend weeks or maybe even months creating the perfect course curriculum, making your offer desirable enough so your audience wants to buy, and crafting a strategic launch plan to get the best results.
In the midst of all of this work, it can be easy to overlook the not-so-fun parts and the next thing you know you’ve launched something that could actually be more of a liability than an asset…
The not-so-fun parts in question? The legalities of course!
Personally, I LOVE the legal side of things (after all I am a lawyer and feel comfortable using legal jargon in my everyday life), but I recognize this isn’t the case for most course creators.
This is why I’m here to explain why these not-so-fun parts are actually the things that should be TOP priorities for you before launching your course into the world.
The short of it is this: if you don’t want to lose a penny of your profit, make sure you’re protecting yourself and your business.
And here’s how you can do it. ⬇️
Refunds and chargebacks – two things that NO business owner wants to deal with and the way that you avoid having to deal with either of them is implementing a clear, concise, and legally compliant Terms of Purchase Agreement that lays out all of your policies.
If you’re selling ANYTHING online, you need one of these, but especially when it comes to selling seats to your course.
Legal pro tip: set this up as a clickwrap checkbox at checkout so your clients are actively agreeing to it, making it more enforceable later. 💪
(The other option is a browsewrap – here’s the difference!)
Disclaimers are another HUGE piece that can protect you as a course creator and works by letting users know the limitations and/or risks associated with using your content.
Overall, these statements are intended to protect YOU as the course creator and seller from legal claims and to ensure that users are aware of your website’s limitations and potential risks!
Depending on your industry, there are various types of disclaimers that you may need.
For example, on my website I have a disclaimer stating that The Boutique Lawyer is not a law firm and this isn’t legal advice. This disclaimer statement would protect me if anyone ever claimed that I acted as a lawyer on their behalf!
Disclaimers are huge for all business owners, but especially if you fall into an industry where people expect certain results, such as health and wellness, financial, coaching etc.
To help you know what type of disclaimer to use for your specific business, CLICK HERE to browse the options – when in doubt, a General Disclaimer will typically suffice.
This one is huge, not only because it’s legally required, but mainly because the penalties that you can get hit with are massive…
We’re talking up to $7,500 per instance per visitor! 🤯
So, yes you can make a LOT of money through your courses, but you can also pay a LOT in fees if you don’t implement this one policy!
For example, you wouldn’t let a client just call you up at 2am and demand that you make edits to the deliverables that you sent over 2 weeks ago, would you?
I really hope not – and if so, please read this blog post and then come back to me.
Just like you set the rules for how you work with your clients, you also get to set the rules for how people use your site and your course, more specifically.
YOU get to call the shots and when you have this agreement in place, if anyone crosses those boundaries, you can actually do something about it when necessary.
Nobody likes a copycat and unfortunately in the online business world, they’re pretty dang common, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with them.
A copyright notice is like your digital “stay off the grass!” sign that gives a warning to potential copycats that are interested in stealing your course content.
When you have a copyright notice displayed in ALL of your digital creations (including PDFs, guides, and other downloadable resources), you’re telling people, “Hey, just so you know, I’m claiming the rights to this work, so if you steal my stuff, you’re doing it willfully and I can take legal action.”
This notice is the FIRST step in protecting your creations and is highly necessary to protect all of your course materials.
By the way, I have way more resources for all things copyright, so if you’re in need, browse below:
- What To Do When Someone Steals Your Content
- Championing Copyright for Creators and Entrepreneurs
- Copyright Explained: What It Is, Who It’s For, and Where It’s Needed
How To Legally Protect Your Digital Course
After spending a lot of time, energy, and money on your digital course, you not only want to experience results in the initial launch phase, but you want to keep reaping those rewards as time goes on and really the only way that can happen is when your course is legally protected!
The good news? It’s NOT hard to do!
I know that the legalities of business can feel daunting, but the reality is that most of them are really simple additions and don’t take that much extra time when you know what you need and you know HOW to implement them.
And lucky for you, I just told you everything you need to protect your course and keep your profits! It really is that simple.
Now that you know what you need, the HOW is up to you and you have two options:
- Scour the internet and learn how to craft the perfect legal agreements and *hope* that you’re including everything you need
- Browse The Boutique Lawyer contract shop, find the contracts you need that are written by real lawyers, and simply plug and play the details for your specific business
I think I know which one I would choose. 😏
Here’s to legally protecting your digital course and KEEPING the hard earned money you make! 🥂