Blogging in Germany: Personal, Business or Journalist?

Hat with press card - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / stocksnapperHave you ever considered at what point a blog stops being a personal one and starts being a business?  Or at which point the blogger becomes a writer, or even a journalist?

Quite apart from any internet marketing advice telling you to “treat your blog like a business”, in Germany the differences can have knock-on effects such as how much tax you pay.

Obviously, the first difference between a personal blog and a business site is the need for the Impressum, but a simple way of looking at it is that a personal blog does not make any money.  A business site does, regardless of whether the blog directly sells products, contains advertising or is simply connected to an existing business.

This is usually the point where the you need to get advice on how to deal with the local tax office and you need to decide just what sort of business you are going to be.  Will you show VAT on your invoices to clients, or opt for the simpler Kleinunternehmer rule (where invoices include VAT, but don’t show it separately)?  Will you be self-employed and sell products, or will you be a freelancer and just sell your services?

These questions are not always easy to answer and bloggers in Germany may need to get some advice from professional sources to deal with them.

And then there is the question of whether by writing your blog, and depending on what you are writing about, you are working as a journalist.

I often find that bloggers get the worst of both worlds.  If they do something wrong, their blog gets treated as a publication and they fall under press laws.  But if they want something from an official institution or a company, they are not considered professional enough.

I have heard of requests made to companies and even to TV stations for photo material that have been answered with the simple phrase “we don’t deal with bloggers”.

On other occasions, I have been to events where only “print” journalists would be accredited for press access.

The world of blogging is not something that many companies in Germany can deal with yet.  They either see it as something people do for a hobby, or just don’t understand how it can help them and their marketing department.

This is something I would like to change.  If you’re a German business owner reading this and would like my [professional, paid by the hour] advice – then please get in touch.

About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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