When I started out, I was not interested in the legal aspects of blogging, I was only interested in sharing my knowledge with the world and in figuring out if I can make enough money to support myself.
So things like ‘Affiliate Disclosure’ were least of my concern.
I just went on google, copied an affiliate disclosure statement, tweaked it and pasted it.
But over the years, I realized, affiliate disclosures are not some legal jibber-jabber, in fact I can use them to build trust with our customers.
In this blogpost I’ll tell you all you need to know about affiliate disclaimers and how to write the perfect affiliate disclosure
But before that, you’ve got to know …
In simple terms, affiliate disclosure is informing people that you get compensated in cash (including online payments and cheques) or in kind from your activities online.
Basically, Federal Trade Commission (The US Agency that protects consumer interests) wants your customers to know your relationship with the companies and brands and then make an independent decision.
So, if you are receiving ANY kind of favors for your activities online, you are required to have a affiliate disclaimer on your blog/website.
This is why programs like Amazon affiliates require you to have an affiliate disclosure on your site.
But before you think that it’s some complex legal thing, understand that it's not a law.
Even the policy says -
[The Guides] are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves.
This means that it’s a flexible policy that allows us to use any writing style we want, to let them know about the affiliate relationships we have the companies.
And as long as the visitor clearly understands this relationship, there’s no problem with the words you choose.
Even #ad or [ad] on social media posts is considered a disclosure.
I’ve broken down this long and boring FTC policy to give you the 3 clear messages you need to takeaway, to make sure you’re on the right side of the line, when it comes to complying with FTC Act.
FTC wants that you maintain an honest relationship with the customer.
When you write an affiliate disclosure for any website or blog, use honest, simple and clear language.
It tells your blog visitors that you respect them by not trying to sugarcoat things or hide them behind complex legal language.
Understand that many of your customers have no idea about affiliate links, affiliate marketing, etc. and nobody is patient enough to go through pages of legal bullshit to understand it.
That’s why it’s uber important to communicate your point in the simplest form that makes sense to everyone - from a noob to a pro.
Write in your own style. The style that your audience is used to. This’ll make the affiliate disclosure more interesting.
A well worded affiliate disclaimer might also get you a backlink from this post.
You must place the disclosure in a place where the visitor can easily spot it.
Don’t try to hide your affiliate disclosure. It’s important information and if your blog visitors have to look hard to find it on the page, then it’s not just a violation of the FTC policy, but when the visitor finally spots it, it also comes across as shady and untrustworthy.
And you must have noticed that we have a special blue coloured box right at the top of our blog posts that tells people that we have affiliate links on that page.
Stop looking at your disclaimer page as something you have to write because law wants you to …
… and start thinking of it as something that lays foundation of trust and openness with customers.
Once you adapt that mindset, you’ll not hide the affiliate disclaimer, you’ll want your readers to read it.
Which brings me to the third point;
Don’t be afraid, ashamed or apologetic about telling people you have affiliate links in your blog.
Don’t feel guilty. You’re not trying to trick your visitors into buying through your affiliate links. You’re providing great original content to your readers and that takes hard work for which you deserve to make money.
I used to feel this way when I first started blogging and I wasn’t sure of myself yet. It took me sometime before I was comfortable with making money from the affiliate commissions.
And the fact is, if you provide great value, your readers will want you to make money.
In fact, I’ve provided a study by Jonathan Fields that proves that people are not hesitant on clicking the affiliate links.
In the study, 76% of people clicked the affiliate link knowing that the website owner will get financial benefit out of it.
It’s important for bloggers to understand that we now live in times where hiding is becoming more and more difficult and transparency is becoming the norm.
Gone are the days when internet was ‘Wild... Wild... West!’ and everyone had tricks up their sleeves (which worked for a little while and were eventually shut down and even penalized).
Today, the only way to succeed is to do the right thing.
Don’t write it because you have to.
Write it because you care about your consumers and you want them to know that anything and everything you do is for their betterment and in the process you make a living out of it.
Be open in your disclosure, tell them you’re not just writing the disclosure page because it’s legally binding.
Tell them, that according to you, the most important thing for any business is the relationship it builds with customers and being open & honest is the only way to do it.
Communicate the fact that even when you are making money, it’s your reader’s interests that you have in mind.
And when you say it, mean it.
We do this because we want to establish an honest and long term relationship with our readers, and giving them the right advice is in OUR best interest because when our readers trust us, they buy more with our recommendations.
So there it is. Now that you know how to write a great affiliate disclosure statement for your site, take a look at our affiliate disclaimer too so you understand how we use affiliate links on this site and across the internet.
And if you want feedback on how to improve your affiliate disclaimer, leave a link to it in the comments below.
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