Affiliate disclosure is important for people who have blogs and sell on their blogs. This post is for aspiring bloggers, mom bloggers, and lifestyle bloggers.
Affiliate disclosure removes the risks of someone or people taking legal actions against you or the blog you’ve worked so hard on.
When you blog without a proper affiliate disclosure while using affiliate links, you play with your professional assets every single day.
This is why we wrote this blog post to help you understand its importance, the dos and don’ts, how to write your affiliate disclosure, or how to review yours if you already have one.
*This post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you. See disclosure for details.
What Is An Affiliate Disclosure?
An affiliate disclosure is a disclaimer telling your readers, consumers, or potential buyers that you are in a paid relationship with the person or company that you are linking to as an affiliate.
Affiliate disclosure is also known as affiliate disclaimer or affiliate link disclosure. It alerts your users that there are affiliate links (URLs linking to other products and services) in your post.
And what an affiliate disclosure does is that it tells your website users that the companies you promote, recommend, or review their products pay you.
In 2009, all types of blogger disclosure statements became really important when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated its outdated policies to include blogs and news media.
It set fines up to $11,000 per violation for anyone who endorses a product or company without showing proper disclosure.
An affiliate disclosure statement and a sponsorship disclosure statement are similar.
Why You Need An Affiliate Disclosure
There are many reasons why affiliate disclosures are important and some of the reasons are:
1. You can be fined if you skip it
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can fine you if you do not disclose your affiliate relationship properly. Don’t try to skip this, thinking they won’t get to you.
The FTC is a large organization with over 1,000 employees. They regularly roll out new initiatives to stop bad behavior. Today, it may be big brands, tomorrow it may be travel bloggers, fashion influencers, course creators, or even mom bloggers.
Another scary part about affiliate disclosure is that anyone can report you, your competitor can see it as an opportunity to get rid of you. Your followers and even your affiliate manager can report you.
So, it is not a risk worth taking.
2. You may be removed from certain affiliate programs
You may be removed from affiliate programs if you don’t have proper disclosure statements on your blogs.
If you have a stellar affiliate post that comes up on #1 Google search for your desired keyword, you know you would earn hundreds of dollars every month right?
Your affiliate manager can boot you out of the program at any time and without warning if you don’t have an affiliate disclosure on that post, thereby eliminating your juicy income stream overnight.
You might be wondering why this happens. Merchants are penalized more by FTC policies, so your affiliate manager won’t think twice before removing you if you don’t disclose properly when you promote them.
This is why the Amazon Associates Program’s Operating Agreement mandates their Amazon Associates to include an Amazon Affiliate Disclosure on their website and that they should state that they earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
3. You put your reputation at stake
If you don’t disclose your affiliation properly, you are putting your personal reputation in jeopardy. People are savvy, in fact, they are savvier than you think.
If your reader or someone in your audience sees an affiliate promotion and doesn’t see a proper disclosure, you can easily lose their trust and even their business.
Why Is Affiliate Disclosure Required?
It’s possible you have once bought something because you trusted the recommendation of your friend right?
If your answer to the question above is yes, then you did that because of your friend’s recommendation – it persuaded you to make that purchase.
You bought that commodity because the recommendation is from someone you know and trust, who has also used the product, and you feel comfortable going ahead with the purchase.
This same thing happens online.
When you read product recommendations from people online, who you don’t even have a personal relationship with, and you don’t know if they’ve seen the product or not, let alone use the product they are recommending.
Some of these bloggers may exaggerate and tell you that the products they are recommending are the best things since sliced bread.
Now the question is, how can you trust what they say?
This is where affiliate disclosure comes in. It helps you to balance product recommendations and suggestions you read online.
When you see an affiliate disclosure, it gives you the knowledge that someone will receive or is receiving some form of benefit from promoting that product.
This will help you make a better and informed decision than trusting blindly.
The FTC monitors the online landscape to protect online buyers and ensure that people who recommend or review products state clearly their commercial relationship to the company or products they are promoting.
This is why affiliate disclosure is a legal requirement.
Besides, wouldn’t you love to know if someone is being paid to recommend a product to you? Everyone will love to know so that they can make an informed decision.
The FTC states that by refusing to make an affiliate disclosure when recommending products or services for which you receive an incentive, you are practicing a form of “deceptive marketing” and it is against the law.
Affiliate Disclosure Requirement
The FTC endorsement guide says that you need an affiliate disclosure if the companies you are promoting or mentioning their products are compensating you financially or otherwise on your website.
Part of their requirement is that:
- In your affiliate disclosure, you should clearly and conspicuously describe the nature of your relationship with the company you are posting or recommending their products. You should also include the facts that you are being compensated by them.
- Write your affiliate disclosure with user-friendly language so that your readers can easily understand them.
How To Craft Your Affiliate Disclosure
The guidelines we are giving below are crafted based on the FTC guidelines. However, it’s important you know that we are not lawyers and therefore don’t use these as a substitute for legal advice.
To craft your affiliate disclosure, you need to consider these things:
Mediums: You must disclose your affiliation on every medium or platform used. This means that if you are promoting a product in a podcast or a video and you are an affiliate, you must state your disclosure verbally before you make mention of the product.
You also have to properly disclose through your social media sites and via emails as well.
Space constraints: Some platforms may not give you room for full disclosure, example is Twitter. However, this doesn’t give you any right to skip it.
What you can do in cases like this is to use the word “#ad” before making your statement. Experts say it meets the requirement for affiliate disclosure.
So you can use that hashtag on your Twitter and other platforms that don’t give room for many words.
Other hashtags you can use are #affiliatelinks, #affiliate, #sponsor, #paid, and #sponsorship. However, these other hashtags don’t meet the requirements that #ad meets because not everybody understands what these words mean but they understand what ad means.
Mobile: Make sure that your affiliate disclosure is not concealed when viewed on mobile devices. This is why it is not advisable to place your affiliate disclosure on a sidebar.
It appears above your affiliate links when viewed on a desktop computer but when viewed on a mobile device, it may appear below the affiliate links, and this is against the rule.
The affiliate disclosure should always come first before the affiliate links.
Where To Put Your Affiliate Disclosures
The FTC guidelines insist that affiliate disclosures should be displayed conspicuously close to your affiliate links or the endorsed product you are making mention of.
Your affiliate disclosure should be on every page that you include an endorsement, an affiliate link, or a sponsorship.
The FTC guidelines mandate that you should always place your affiliate disclosure before any affiliate links so that your readers or users will be aware of your partnership with the company before they click your link.
You can also choose to expand your relationship with affiliates and sponsors using a dedicated affiliate disclosure page. Although, you still need affiliate disclosures on every page that you have affiliate contents and links.
If you have a dedicated affiliate page, then you can use hyperlinks to link to your dedicated affiliate disclosure page throughout your website or blog.
But always remember that there should be an affiliate disclosure close to any affiliate content or link.
Affiliate Disclosure Examples
1. Cookie and Kate
This cooking blog explains in their affiliate disclosure page how they earn commissions through affiliate links and they also list the affiliate programs they participate in.
2. The beauty look book
This cosmetic review blog includes an affiliate disclosure section on their blog that describes the affiliate arrangements and sponsored partnership that the owner of the blog is into.
It then reassures the customers or potential customers that the honesty and quality of the content are maintained despite the affiliation.
Being transparent about business partnerships is good and you should explain the purpose of your affiliate link. This will show your readers that you value their honesty and that you want them to make an informed judgment and decision about your product.
3. Where in the world is Nina?
4. Amy Lynn Andrews
Amy is a blogger and she shows a strong affiliate disclosure that clearly states she receives a commission before any of her affiliate links. Then she goes a step further by linking to her full disclosure policy page.
5. Tech Radar
This tech blog keeps its affiliate disclosure above its website. It is short, easy to understand, and straight to the point. It also provides a link for more information.
6. ken’s tech tips
This tech blog gives us another example of a good affiliate disclosure. It emphasizes on the community supporting itself by using affiliate links willingly.
Ken’s affiliate disclosure is at the bottom of his page where he links to his disclosure page.
7. The luminous
The luminous displays a clever psychological shenanigan on their affiliate disclosure. They made the affiliate transaction look less commercial by telling their users that they may just earn enough when they click their links to buy a cup of coffee.
And besides, who will refuse their favorite blogger or someone they love a cup of coffee?
8. The shop files
The things we love about the affiliate disclosure of this blog are that it is informal, straight to the point, and heads up. The owner also reassures his readers that he only recommends tools that he has personally vetted.
9. Guide ‘em
This relatively new affiliate blog has something unique about its affiliate disclosure. They assure their visitors they do not accept money for reviews.
10. Dan flying solo
This affiliate disclosure stands out from the crowd because it is tailored to an individual travel guide Kochi Japan.
The owner of the blog, Dan recently visited Kochi as part of a press freebie. This means his trip there was sponsored but he was smart enough to cover his ass in this case.
How To Write An Affiliate Disclosure
First, you have to identify affiliate links and sponsored content on your website. Then you explain to your readers that you receive compensation from these companies when you link to their products or services.
Here are some guidelines you can follow in typing your own affiliate disclosure.
1. Use clear and simple language
Write to your readers in plain language that they will easily understand. Let them know that you receive compensation from companies that feature their contents or link to their products or services.
Don’t use terms that your readers might not be familiar with like “affiliate links”, affiliate marketing”, and other big grammars. Don’t assume that everyone should know the meaning of these words.
Replace those words above with simpler words like #ads or #sponsorship.
Also, don’t be too wordy or lengthy so that people can quickly read your disclosure.
2. Make your affiliate disclosure noticeable
Your affiliate disclosure should be prominent. Style and format it in a way that is noticeable to your users.
Ensure that the text size and color stand out, this will make it readable.
3. Avoid distractions like buttons
The FTC advertising guidelines frowns at distractions. This organization requires blog or website owners to avoid the use of elements that can reduce or obscure the noticeability of your affiliate disclosure.
Distracting elements that can hide your affiliate disclosure are links, buttons, and extra graphics.
4. Place your affiliate disclosure in many places
Display your affiliate disclaimer in many places or many times so that your users can see them.
For instance, you can put it in your website footer, in a fixed place, or sidebar if you want.
You can see how important affiliate disclosures are and how you can be in big trouble if you don’t do it.
We hope this post helps you write or review your affiliate disclosure well to avoid troubles like this one right here.
If you are less busy, you can read FTC press releases to be up to date with their guideline and even settlement cases so you will take precautions.
Even if you are located outside the USA but you are targeting US citizens or have a U.S based market, these FTC guidelines still apply to you.
This means you should properly disclose your affiliation regardless of your location.