Affiliate Links and How to Reduce Your Odds of Getting on the FTC’s Bad Side

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

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% commision, 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 affiliate with Company X 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 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.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf

https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-publishes-final-guides-governing-endorsements-testimonials/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf

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.

Addit:

https://www.disclaimertemplate.com/free-disclosure-of-material-connection/

The obvious advice from the Federal Trade Commission is: “When in doubt, post a Disclosure of Material Connection Notice on your website or blog.”

https://www.disclaimertemplate.com/free-opinion-disclaimer/

 

 

 

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