Do you use affiliate links to generate income on your blog or website? This would include social media, whether or not you have a business page although it will often be obvious it’s an affiliate link on some social media platforms.
Standard legal disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not intended to be, nor should it be construed to be, legal advice. Should you need legal advice, consult a lawyer or law firm that specializes in the legal field you need the advice on.
Here’s a good starting point: the FTC‘s endorsement guide link: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking#how – Table of Contents
Table of Contents
- About the Endorsement Guides
- When Does the FTC Act Apply to Endorsements?
- Product Placements
- Endorsements by Individuals on Social Networking Sites
- How Should I Disclose That I Was Given Something for My Endorsement?
- Other Things for Endorsers to Know
- Social Media Contests
- Online Review Programs
- Soliciting Endorsements
- What Are an Advertiser’s Responsibilities for What Others Say in Social Media?
- What About Intermediaries?
- What About Affiliate or Network Marketing?
- Expert Endorsers Making Claims Outside of Traditional Advertisements
- Employee Endorsements
- Using Testimonials That Don’t Reflect the Typical Consumer Experience
Another good starting point for creating a Disclosure page – https://www.warriorforum.com/main-internet-marketing-discussion-forum/152585-ftc-affiliate-disclosure-template-bloggers.html. It appears at least some of the links no longer work on the forum, but did work when I used them several years ago. Be warned that you should still note ALL affiliate links as such even if you have a Disclosure page. My Disclosure page can be found at https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/disclosures-and-disclaimers/. I generally don’t do affiliate links, but will probably add them at some point. I will take it a step further than I have seen most bloggers go. Some bloggers will do something like this affiliate link generates 5 or 10% commission, or a small amount. That’s not a big deal if you are a blogger who’s only making $5 – 25 /month from an affiliate link. It’s a big difference if your an affiliate with Company X and is generating several thousand dollars or more per month. It may not make a difference in your attitude towards the company, but people should be aware of how much you are making once it’s a sizeable amount. I know of one blogger that often touts a specific DNA company over others. The blogger has affiliate links with several DNA companies, but they make a lot with one of them. They also hype that DNA company over the others.
If I get to the point where I am making a fair amount of money (as in more than $20 – 25/month) with any DNA company or any other company, I don’t plan on pushing it over other companies that I may or may not have affiliate links with. There are companies I prefer for certain types of DNA testing, but I don’t have affiliate links with those companies at the present. In other cases, I may point out a DNA company alternative that many DNA experts won’t recommend, but if I believe it best fits a need raised by a viewer, I will mention it as an option. When I review some of my DNA results, I try to give the “Good, Bad, and Ugly” of what I like, what I don’t like, etc., but I also try to make the point that just because I like or don’t like something doesn’t necessarily mean you will like or dislike the same things. There are times I recommended a DNA company to somebody because it best fit their needs or what they were trying to figure out even if it was a company I don’t normally recommend. From my perspective, your needs, wants, desires, etc. should determine which company and/or tests you should look at utilizing.
It’s also important to note if you get a free product that was given to you specifically as a product review. I get a lot of free ebooks on Amazon that are available free to anyone, but if I get an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of an ebook, I will note that in my review as that’s a different level of free since it’s not available to everybody. I would note the free ebook as such if it were from a giveaway and wasn’t normally a permafree ebook. Some authors make a book in a series permafree as a way to draw you into wanting to buy the other books in the series. If you do a search for free ebooks on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, GooglePlay, or iTunes, you will find a lot.
Here’s a good example for affiliate marketers and bloggers: https://www.strategicrevenue.com/here-come-the-feds-ebay-warns-affiliate-marketers-bloggers-of-ftc-crack-down/
- Disclosures must be placed “as close as possible” to the claims.
- Scrolling should not be necessary to find the disclosure.
- Pop-up disclosures should not be used.
- Button or links which says DISCLOSURE, LEGAL, etc., are not sufficient.
- Suggested disclosure on social media platforms includes “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad,” “ad,” or “#ad” and this should begin at the beginning of the post, not at the end.
Three links to articles from above link – the first two are PDFs from the FTC:
https://www.tricia.me/2013/03/14/affiliates-take-note-new-ftc-disclosure-guidelines/ (originally posted in 2013, but updated March 2018). Tricia has a bunch of great advice in the link.
The obvious advice from the Federal Trade Commission is: “When in doubt, post a Disclosure of Material Connection Notice on your website or blog.”