This is an update to a post from December 2018 – Warning Against Not Clearly Marking Affiliate Links and a follow-up to my last post – Authors Who Use Beta Readers or Provide Advanced Reader Copies and the FTC – November 21, 2020. My goal is to make people aware of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines when it comes to not making it clear when affiliate links, paid reviews, or other revenue generating income (i.e., Kindle Unlimited page views) are used. I mention product placement as this is often done subtly or not so subtly by bloggers and vloggers as it may also covered even if you aren’t being paid by a company to use product placement. I know a few bloggers and vloggers who intentionally product place things that aren’t being paid for by the companies, but do it to give free advertising to the companies. If I ever get to doing videos on YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, Twitch, etc., I will cover things up. Obviously if I am reviewing a specific product, I won’t cover it up, but will cover the name of my laptop and avoid referencing any other company or displaying their products in the review. I am sure other countries have similar guidelines that you may need to be aware of.
I will add if you are an author and offer your ebooks on Kindle Unlimited, this applies to you as you generate a small amount of income per page view when someone reads your ebook on Kindle Unlimited. With one author, she makes $1,000 – 10,000/month from people reading her ebooks on Kindle Unlimited. She has that many ebooks on Kindle Unlimited and she is a very popular author. How much she makes depends on Amazon as they set the price each month. It runs about $4 – 5/1,000 pages read on Kindle Unlimited. With some authors, that adds up fast.
Where I see some bloggers and vloggers getting it right is when they start the post as a review, especially if it’s not a paid review. My suggestion is use #ad at the beginning of the post or place affiliate link (in bold) next to the affiliate link.
I see too many using affiliate links without clearly marking them as such. In some cases, I see some bloggers who claim to follow the FTC guidelines and use some of the FTC links I include below. The problem is a few of these bloggers say something like I only get a small percentage from each affiliate link. While that is true, usually between 2 – 10%, they leave out the fact they are making $100 or in some cases $1,000+/month in affiliate link payouts. To imply a blogger is only getting a small percentage when they are making a lot more/month is not a smart move. I understand most bloggers don’t make anywhere near that much in affiliate link revenue. I rarely post affiliate links on my blog. In some cases, to get a discount, you have to use an affiliate link and I make it clear the affiliate link revenue goes to the person that posted the original affiliate link. If I start using affiliate links, I will put an approximate value on the monthly range for affiliate link revenue.
I will include the relevant portions of my earlier blogs below the links to them so you don’t need to click on the links.
Here are several FTC links that should clearly explain how to use affiliate links and other endorsements in ways that fall within the FTC guidelines:
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking#how (FTC website, kind of a FAQs)*
https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-publishes-final-guides-governing-endorsements-testimonials/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf(PDF, so you will need a PDF reader to view it).