If you’ve decided to incorporate affiliate marketing into your blog, then you need to be completely transparent about it!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making money from your blog – in fact, I totally recommend it! I mean, it costs you time and money to create all that valuable content that you’re giving to your readers for free, so why not?
You just need to make it clear to your readers that you are including affiliate links in your content. It’s understandable that even if your intentions are good, they might feel misled if you don’t. And if you’re based in the USA, you need to take specific steps to disclose that your link is an affiliate link to comply with the rules set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS AN “AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE”?
An affiliate disclosure lets your readers know that you have something to gain from recommending a certain product, service or brand, so that they have a clear overview of your intentions.
WHY DO I NEED AN AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE?
- Well, to put it bluntly: it’s the law! You’re legally (and ethically) required to let your readers know that when they purchase something through your links, you get a commission for that purchase.
- Your readers will trust you more. Don’t be afraid to disclose your links because you think it will turn people off. It’s actually quite the opposite! They provide transparency to your readers – remember, trust is important for marketers, and can only be achieved through complete transparency.
HOW DO I MAKE AN AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE?
Easy peasy, babe! Here are the instructions for WordPress users:
Step 1. Write your disclosure. Don’t know what to write? Here’s a basic template – feel free to copy and paste, or personalize to make it your own. You’re welcome!
“Some blog posts and web pages within this site contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click the link then purchase a product or service from the third party website.
Purchasing a product or service from a link does not increase your purchase price, but it is a great way to say ‘thanks’ if you enjoy my content and find my suggestions helpful.
Please note that I only recommend products and services that I have personally used or have thoroughly researched.
These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. My reviews are based on my personal own experience and research.”
Step 2. Create a new page on your site, and title it “Affiliate Disclosure” or “Disclosure Policy”.
Step 3. Add the Disclosure Policy to your footer so that it is easily accessible from any page. To do this, head to Appearances > Menu in your WordPress dashboard. (Or, if your theme allows it, you can go to the Theme Customizer and change it in the Footer Settings directly.)
Next, select a menu to edit – in this case you want to edit the Footer.
Now add the Disclosure Policy page to your footer. Save the menu and the changes will be applied. Done.
However, a disclosure page is not a replacement for disclosing on individual sponsored posts.
You’ll also need to add a disclosure/disclaimer to the beginning of any of your posts where you talk about a product or service that you were paid to talk about, were given free products to talk about, or any post which contains affiliate links. The disclosure must come before any links to a sponsor’s site.
For example, at the beginning of your posts you can include a link to your disclosure page something like, “This post may be sponsored or contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my full disclosure here.”
Disclosures that aren’t made until the end of your post (ie. after you’ve already inserted affiliate or sponsored links in the content) may be construed as misleading and do not meet FTC guidelines.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE BEST PRACTICES
- Your affiliate disclosure needs to be in plain sight, easy to see, and as close as possible to the link itself.
- Your affiliate disclosure CANNOT be at the bottom of your posts, or placed where your readers would have to actively look for it.
- Always add your disclosure to the top of your posts, and place a reference (for example, an asterisk) in close proximity to your affiliate link.
- Use clear, direct language.
Something to keep in mind: Some affiliate programs have specific requirements that you need to take into consideration when you disclaim their affiliate links. For example, Amazon asks all their affiliates to use the same exact statement, word for word. (You can read their Affiliate Agreement here.)
While affiliate link disclosures are a legal necessity, using them will also build reader trust (in both you AND your affiliate products). For more information, I highly recommend reading this FAQ Guide released by the FTC.
Even if you’re not based in the USA, properly disclosing your affiliate links is not only best practice, it also shows integrity as a professional blogger…. and it’s just common courtesy.
Do you have any questions about affiliate disclosures? Pop them in the comments below, and I’ll answer them for you!