Are you in the process of starting a blog?
There are many different reasons to get into blogging, from keeping family and friends informed about your personal life, to updating business clients about a company’s evolving product and service offerings.
One question we consistently hear from prospective bloggers is whether they should form a limited liability company (LLC) for their blogs. In general, the answer varies depending on what you’re looking to do with your blog, as well as who you’re trying to reach, and whether you want to use your blog to generate income.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not you need to form an LLC for your blog. The answer isn’t necessarily as cut and dried as it might seem, so let’s get to the bottom of this surprisingly nuanced question.
Tip: If you decide to start an LLC, there are plenty of online LLC formation services (like LegalZoom and ZenBusiness) that can take care of the paperwork for you.
What Is an LLC?
First off, let’s quickly outline what an LLC is. A limited liability company mixes elements of sole proprietorships, general partnerships, and corporations, essentially giving entrepreneurs the best of these worlds. LLCs are typically taxed similarly to sole proprietorships and general partnerships, in that the owners include any company profits or losses into their personal returns — the LLC itself does not owe income taxes. An LLC may also elect to be taxed like a corporation, although this is not a very common option.
There are similarities to corporations too, especially when it comes to financial responsibilities. In an LLC, the owners or members are not usually personally accountable for the financial status of the business. This means that if someone sues your LLC, your personal assets are not at risk.
In short, LLCs are so popular because they provide a variety of legal protections for your blog, while also enhancing its credibility. But is it really necessary for a blogger to form an LLC?
Do I Need to Form an LLC for My Blog?
If you’re simply starting a blog for fun, and you have no plans to monetize it in any way, you can almost certainly get away with not forming an LLC. If you’re not bringing in any money, there’s really no reason to waste the time, effort, and money to form an LLC. After all, if you’re not operating a business, you don’t need to form a business structure for your blog.
However, beyond the simple “friends and family” type of blog, or perhaps one that you’re only writing for your own enjoyment, it gets a bit trickier. For forming an LLC to make sense for your blog, you’ll need to monetize it in some way. Here are a few of the most common ways of doing just that:
1) Adding advertisements to your page: One common way to monetize a blog is to introduce advertising to your site. These ads are usually of the pay-per-click variety, and you can get them from programs like Google AdSense. With a setup like this, you can add banner and sidebar ads to your blog that target users who pursue the same type of content you write about on your blog. While this doesn’t typically generate much money right away, you might be surprised at how much it can add up over time.
2) Affiliate links: In many different industries, affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize your blog. In the interest of full disclosure, that’s the main way we’ve monetized this site! By partnering with businesses in fields related to your blog topics, you can earn money when readers click through and make purchases on the affiliated website. We can tell you from first-hand experience that this is a solid technique if you’re in the right field.
3) Selling products: If the content of your blog is easily translated into products or services, this can be a great way to generate some extra cash. Depending on the nature of your posts, this could even be a relatively simple way to start a multifaceted business. For example, if you run a blog about knitting, perhaps you could start selling your own handmade goods.
4) Sponsorships: This typically isn’t going to be something that happens right out of the gates, but once your blog starts gaining some traction, you could be able to get a company to agree to sponsor a blog post. This is when you write a blog specifically tailored to attract customers for that company, and in return they provide you with either a share of their profits or a flat fee.
If you decide to pursue any of these monetization techniques, you’re entering a situation where it would definitely be advisable to form an LLC. To be honest, we strongly advise forming an LLC before you ever start monetizing your blog. This is because if you wait until after you’ve already started transacting business, your initial transactions won’t be covered by personal asset protection.
Operating a business entity without a corporate veil protecting your assets is almost never advisable, unless you write about a topic that doesn’t present you with any liability whatsoever. Even then, it’s still a safer bet to protect yourself using the limited liability offered by the LLC.
Can I Hire an LLC Service to Form My Blog’s LLC?
If you would rather not go through the hassle of forming your own LLC for your blog, you’re in luck. There are dozens of reputable online services that can save you a ton of time, while also costing far less than hiring a business lawyer to form your LLC. If you want to take a look at the top options, head on over to our guide to the 7 best LLC services available.
In addition, we’ll briefly break down our top three options on this page. These are, in our opinion, the best options for LLC formation service:
– ZenBusiness ($39): ZenBusiness truly has it all. They provide complete LLC formation service along with a full year of registered agent service for one incredibly low rate, and they also have stellar customer feedback. It’s hard to go wrong with an offer like this.
– Northwest Registered Agent ($79): Northwest is a bit more expensive than ZenBusiness, but their industry-best registered agent service (included at no extra charge) includes local scanning of every document they receive on your behalf. They also have the best customer support available for LLC formation services. If you’re looking for more of a premium service, Northwest is an excellent choice.
– Incfile (FREE): Incfile has an LLC formation package that is free of charge, as long as you pay your own state fee. That’s obviously an enticing offer, especially when you consider that they also provide a year of registered agent. Throw in their strong customer feedback, and Incfile is an excellent choice for LLC formations.
For many bloggers, it simply isn’t necessary to form an LLC, because you’re not generating any income with it. However, if you’re even considering monetization, it’s probably time to look into creating a formal business entity to protect yourself and your business.
We hope this article helped you enhance your understanding of whether or not your blog needs an LLC, and we wish you the best of luck!