If you follow or read my blog, you may notice I post semi-regularly on certain topics – Copyright, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines. I do this because many bloggers are not familiar with these topics and may find themselves on the wrong end if they don’t familiarize themselves with the two topics. Today, I am focusing on the FTC guidelines again. If you aren’t an American, but have at least one American reader or Follower, the FTC guidelines apply to you. The same applies if you are a vlogger.
The saving grace right now is the FTC isn’t going after bloggers. At some point, they will go after them. I see a handful of bloggers and vloggers claim they are following the FTC guidelines, generally using one of the specific FTC links below. Very few of them are in compliance with the FTC guidelines. For example, adding a note at the top, bottom, or either side of your blog is not in compliance with the FTC guidelines. You need to clearly mark affiliate links, referral links. I rarely add affiliate or referral links, but when I do add (affiliate or referral link) next to the link. Likewise, if you use #ad or #affiliate link, it needs to be separate from other hashtags you use where the company advertises the blogger‘s services on the company’s website.
One popular genealogist blogger loves to claim how they are in compliance with the FTC guidelines, but they are not. They use notes at the top or bottom of their posts and do not clearly mark any link as an affiliate link. Worse, the blogger does not disclose their relationship with one of the DNA companies they have a special deal with. This genealogy blogger makes a lot of money from affiliate links. In their disclaimer, they make it sound like they only make a small percentage. While that is factually true, the fact they make a lot of money from the affiliate links is misleading. According to FTC guidelines, you need to be more forthcoming. This blogger easily makes $1,000 – $10,000/month from their affiliate links. That’s a far cry from a small percentage – typically 2 – 10% depending on how much they generate from their affiliate links with a particular company.
If I ever use affiliate links, I will give an average range of how much I make monthly from affiliate links. I don’t plan on changing my opinion on a company no matter how much I make on affiliate links. I have no problem with calling out a company even if it meant they removed me from their affiliate link program.
My Disclosures/Disclaimers page: https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/disclosures-and-disclaimers/
Federal Trade Commission (FTC – United States Federal Government Agency) Guidelines: Why Bloggers, Websites, and Others Who Use Affiliate Links, Offer Product Reviews, Etc. Should Be Aware of the FTC Guidelines
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.