I am not an attorney and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a legal expert who is familiar with the area of legal expertise you need.
In my ongoing series on Disclosure, affiliate links, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and why it’s important to learn the law, but also to apply it correctly, I will use why my Disclosure page is not good enough to meet the FTC’s guidelines. You can view at https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/disclosures-and-disclaimers/, or click the Disclosures/Disclaimers tab at the top of my blog. It’s a pretty good page, but per the FTC‘s guidelines, it doesn’t meet the guidelines were I to start adding affiliate links to my blog: Why Bloggers, Websites, and Others Who Use Affiliate Links, Offer Product Reviews, Etc. Should Be Aware of the FTC Guidelines.
Here are the FTC guidelines: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking
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
The above is the Table of Contents for the FTC link I posted above. You can view the Guides at https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-publishes-final-guides-governing-endorsements-testimonials/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf.
Out of the numerous blogs I read and vlogs videos I view, a fair number reference one or more of the above links. Yet, only a very small percentage appear to have read them as the vast majority are not in compliance. If that’s not bad enough, those who are not in compliance often put a disclaimer they are in compliance.
My suggestion is if you get free products to review, post affiliate links, or otherwise do anything that could potentially be considered a paid endorsement, make it clear several places in the blog post. For example #ad that is the first part of the post and has no other # nearby. Next, any link, banner ad, etc., make it clear that it’s an affiliate link or banner.
In addition, I would go one step further. I would include an estimate of how much I make monthly or yearly from the affiliate link. A good example is some affiliate links only pay 2%, 5%, 0r 10%, depending on how much sales are generated from the link. While 10% may not sound like a lot, it can be. For example, several companies give 5% to the person who created the link if the sales are under $1,000/month and 10% if the sales are in a given month are $1,000+.
At 10% of $1,000, that’s only $100, probably not a big influencer on the person who made the link. However, 10% of $10,000 is $1,000, a much higher level of income. Even if you aren’t unduly influenced by the company that pays you the $1,000, people using the link should be made aware of the larger payout. If I start adding affiliate links, I would give a reasonable ballpark of how much I was making a month, including times in the last 12 months where I exceeded the average.
I know of several bloggers and vloggers who easily make $10,000/month or more in affiliate links alone. I would link to them, but most of them are in violation of the FTC guidelines and I don’t want to get them in trouble.