Have you just started blogging as part of your business, or are you a long time blogger who now wants to add affiliate links and sponsored posts to your blog? Then you might be wondering what to do when it comes to disclaimers.
You might have already seen disclaimers in other blog posts. The disclaimer probably said something like “This blog posts contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and makes a purchase, I make a commission at no added cost to you.”
If you didn’t know, the authors of those posts weren’t just being nice and letting you know they have an affiliation with the company they are promoting/reviewing, but they are following the FTC required guidelines.
What is the FTC?
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is a federal agency with 3 main goals:
To protect America’s consumers
To maintain competition
And to advance organizational performance
The FTC was created in 1914, with the purpose “to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce”. And while this might seem unrelated to adding affiliate links and writing sponsored blog posts on your website, here is everything you need to know below! I read the entire guide myself and took out the most important parts that you should know about.
How does the FTC endorsement guides apply to bloggers for affiliate links/sponsored posts?
Let’s say you are reading a blog post about the best shampoos for dandruff. This one blogger writes about a shampoo brand that she tried herself and loved! She tells you all about the product, how she used it, and how it made her dandruff go away. At the bottom of her blog post, she adds a link to the product so you can go ahead and purchase one for yourself.
Now, would it matter to you as the reader/consumer that she was gifted the shampoo to try by the shampoo company, and that she is getting a commission for every purchase made through the link she provided on her blog post? I am going to guess that the answer is yes!
What the FTC guides requires is that she adds a disclaimer explaining to her viewers that she was gifted the shampoo to try and that she is getting a commission for any purchase made through the link.
Getting paid to write a blog post or adding affiliate links to blog posts is not uncommon. And if you want to do so, you shouldn’t be scared that it would drive your readers away. Being transparent about you being sponsored for talking about a product/service is so refreshing and needed! As long as you are not writing untrue reviews, but instead writing about products/services that you actually do love, your readers will be happy to help support your online blog by purchasing through your affiliate links.
Honesty and transparency are the key!
Is there any special wording you should use for the disclaimer?
No. You just need to make it clear to your readers that you are being endorsed.
If you received a product for free in exchange of writing a honest blog post review about it, it can begin by saying “Company X gave me [name of product], and I think it’s great”.
If you have affiliate links on your blog post that gives you commission for every person that makes a purchase through it, it can be something like “Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.”
PS: Some companies/brands have specific disclaimers they require you to use on your blog posts. It is not common, but you should always ask and make yourself familiar with each of the companies you work with. For example, a well-know company that provides its ambassadors with a specific worded disclaimer is Amazon.
Where do you need to have the disclaimer?
This is a quote from the FTC’s website: “Disclosures should not be hidden or buried in footnotes, in blocks of text people are not likely to read, or in hyperlinks. If disclosures are hard to find, tough to understand, fleeting, or buried in unrelated details, or if other elements in the ad or message obscure or distract from the disclosures, they don’t meet the “clear and conspicuous” standard. With respect to online disclosures, FTC staff has issued a guidance document, “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” which is available on ftc.gov.”
Do you need to add a disclaimer if you are not getting a commission for the link on your blog?
Nope! If you are just writing about a product/service that you have purchased yourself, used and loved, and you want to recommend to your readers while not being endorsed to do so, you do not need to add a disclaimer.
However, if you received the product as a gift (for free) in exchange for a written blog post review, you must add a disclaimer stating you were gifted the product by the endorser.
Are you being monitored by the FTC?
Uhmm kind of. Here is what the FTC said: “Generally not, but if concerns about possible violations of the FTC Act come to our attention, we evaluate them case by case. If law enforcement becomes necessary, our focus usually will be on advertisers or their ad agencies and public relations firms. Action against an individual endorser, however, might be appropriate in certain circumstances, such as if the endorser has continued to fail to make required disclosures despite warnings.”
I highly recommend…
For you to read the THE FTC’ ENDORSEMENT GUIDES: WHAT PEOPLE ARE ASKING article, which not only talks about everything covered above, but it touches base on how you should be using disclaimers in all social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
It is a very easy and quick read. Grab a glass of wine and take 30 minutes to read through it. It will only enrich your blog and business.
I hope this blog post was helpful and that it shed some light for you. How familiar were you with the FTC guides before now? Have you been using disclaimers on your blog posts so far? Leave your answer below in the comments!