I am going to link to several bloggers who have addressed the issue of why you need to be aware of the FTC guidelines on affiliate links, product reviews, endorsements, and other things that could get you in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In some recent blog posts, I have talked about some issues: Full Genomes (FGC) Updates and Promotions, Including Now Offering MyHeritageDNA Kits, Affiliate Links and How to Reduce Your Odds of Getting on the FTC’s Bad Side, and I will continue to discuss the issue as it can cause you a lot more grief than it’s worth.
For example, Judy G. Russell addressed the issue a few years ago (2016): https://www.legalgenealogist.com/2016/09/26/for-genealogy-bloggers-too/.
Leah Larkin, the DNA Geek, addressed it last year (2017): http://thednageek.com/affiliate-links-in-genetic-genealogy/.
In 2013 (original blog post updated March 2018), Tricia Meyer covered it: https://www.tricia.me/2013/03/14/affiliates-take-note-new-ftc-disclosure-guidelines/.
In 2010, Kerry Scott covered it (her site is undergoing a makeover when I checked it a few minutes ago so I can’t access it at the moment): http://www.cluewagon.com/2010/11/a-peak-under-the-hood-how-bloggers-make-money/.
I won’t mention names or blogs that are in major violations of the FTC guidelines, but suffice it to say there are too many major genealogy and DNA bloggers and websites that are at risk of getting in trouble with the FTC. That doesn’t include the small to medium size blogs and websites that also probably think they are doing what the FTC requires to be compliant. In most cases, they aren’t. There are also plenty of non-genealogy and non-DNA bloggers and websites that are also in violation. I belong to a number of Facebook author and writing groups and other social media outlets (Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.) that easily fall in the same situation.
Using Tricia Meyer‘s blog post above as a starting point since it was the last one I came across recently, but also mentioned by some other bloggers who discuss the FTC, they generally reference one or two specific FTC links: https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf (PDF file) and/or https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking.
I have a Disclosures/Disclaimers tab: https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/disclosures-and-disclaimers/, which is similar to many other bloggers I follow or read. I created it back in June 2013 in the early days of my blog. I need to update it since some things may no longer apply and may not have applied at the time I added the notice. I plan on adding affiliate links at some point in the not too distant future, but knew it would be at least several years from the time of the original Disclosures/Disclaimers post. Any reviews (product, service, etc.) I do on my site are based on my personal experience with the company and I receive no compensation from any company to do the review. I could easily add affiliate links to several places immediately or within a few days (Amazon.com for example).
If you blog or have a website and it’s not readily apparent that you utilize affiliate links, banner ads, etc., you should make it painfully obvious. In the FTC links above, the attitude is better safe than sorry and that will be my attitude. At some point, I will probably add a Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/https://www.patreon.com/) page as a way people who want to contribute to my efforts. If you aren’t familiar with Patreon, I mentioned it a while back: .Death Wears Bunny Slippers YouTube Channel And Links for Old Missile Silos (note: DWBS tends to have the occassional F-bomb and other milder profanity) and here is the Patreon page for DWBS (it’s in my blog link as well): https://www.patreon.com/dwbs. You can learn about Patreon on their YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=rwvUjAv6pxg.
If Patreon sounds interesting as a potential revenue stream for you or somebody you know you can see if Patreon is a good fit for you or your friend as a creator (they have a pretty broad definition of creator), musician, writer, dancer, artist, animator, podcasphotographer, etc. at https://patreonforms.typeform.com/to/CeltuZ?source=web-index-1. You can join Patreon as a sponsor if you prefer. Some people do both; they join as a sponsor or to be sponsored, but later start doing the other side. I created an account a while back, but it’s more as a potential backer for now. Once I have something to offer, I would consider setting up on the other side of the site. If you don’t want to sponsor anyone, you can follow them, share their Patreon page, among other things. You can also search if there is something that interests you. It’s how I found DWBS (Death Wears Bunny Slippers) on Patreon.