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Affiliate Link Disclosure Best Practices for Bloggers

Affiliate Link Disclosure Best Practices for Bloggers.

Bloggers and YouTubers often recommend other merchant's products through their content and insert affiliate links so that users can click through to reach merchants' websites. 

If any visitor makes a purchase through a link, the merchant or vendor company pays a commission or compensation to the publisher of the content, known as an affiliate marketer. 

It's a great way to monetize your blog. Most bloggers leverage it along with Google AdSense to maximize their earnings.

Affiliate marketing is a part of the digital marketing strategy. A Link plays a key role in the process of endorsing a brand or product. It helps communicate the potential customers with the sellers of products. 

You may be wondering to know that 81% of brands rely on affiliate programs, and 94% of publishers participate in multiple affiliate programs. (Source)

There is no much opportunity for a detailed discussion about affiliate marketing in this space. The headline of this content itself says the topic is about the disclosure in your blog post.

So, I'm coming to the main topic straightforward.

The first thing you should know if you use affiliate links within your content (Blog post, YouTube video, and any social media post) to earn money, you need to include proper disclosures. 

It is important to understand in the beginning what affiliate disclosure is.

This article covers-

What an Affiliate disclosure is, the legal requirements, the best practices, and how to disclose the affiliate/sponsored links properly. Reading Time: 7mins 58 sec (Approx).



Affiliate Link Disclosure Best Practices



What is an affiliate Disclosure?

An affiliate disclosure is a statement to inform your visitors that you're an affiliate marketer, and you'll receive money or compensation from the merchant if they buy products using an affiliate link. 

In other words, this disclaimer statement tells that there is a commercial relationship between you and the company (whose products are recommended within your content).

The compensation paid by the companies to their affiliates may include-
  • commission in cash
  • endorsement fees
  • discounts
  • store credit
  • coupons
  • any other perk/ privilege, including future compensation.

If you are a member of any affiliate program and your content contains an affiliate link, it is your responsibility to disclose it. Remember, affiliate disclosure is required by law. This means, inserting affiliate links without proper disclosure is illegal.

Your company tells you how to insert the links, but I'll teach you how to insert the right disclosure.

Example: This article contains affiliate links, and I'll receive a commission if you purchase something through the links but not from your pocket.


Why Should You Disclose Affiliate Links?

  • 1# Legal Requirement


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made it mandatory to disclose if your content includes affiliate links. It requires disclosure for anyone who recommends a brand or product and receives compensation for that.

If you're getting paid for your endorsement, the FTC disclosure guides apply to you, no matter if you're a celebrity or not.

The Federal Trade Commission is a government agency of the United States responsible for protecting consumers from deceptive trade practices. 

So, the primary mission of the FTC for making and enforcing rules and guidelines relating to the endorsement is consumer protection. It also ensures the fair and ethical practices of marketing. 

The FTC continuously monitors non-compliance and updates rules to minimize unethical or unfair business practices to protect consumers. 

To comply with the FTC guidelines, all of your disclosures should be clear and conspicuous. The violation of the FTC guidelines causes huge fines.

The updated version of the FTC guidelines released in March 2013, known as Dot Com Disclosures. I'd like to read the document. It will help understand how to make an effective affiliate disclosure. 

But, many bloggers, publishers, and marketers are not aware of the affiliate guidelines set forth by the FTC. 

According to the FTC guidelines,
Even if some readers are aware of these deals, many readers aren't. That's why disclosure is important.

Besides the Dot Com Disclosure, you should also read ''The FTC's Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking''. This is a FAQ type of guidance on affiliate disclosures.

The guidelines apply to blog posts and other posts on online platforms, including social media. It covers text, video, audio, and any other form of online advertisement.

Although these guidelines apply to the United States, the UK and Canada also have similar guidelines. 

Perhaps, the rest of the world might have similar guidelines, but not sure as I'm not a lawyer. So, for joining a non-US-based affiliate program, check the laws of the country and the policy of the affiliate program you're going to join.


  • 2# Third-Party Requirements

Apart from the FTC requirement for disclosure, several third-party platforms that offer affiliate programs also require the disclosure of affiliate links.

If you're a member of Amazon Associates, you should disclose it to the content. It is stated in the agreement. The phrase ''As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases'' should be included in the disclosure statement. 

Two essential elements of the Associate's Program Operating Agreement are-

  1. You're a participant in the ''associates program''.
  2. You earn something by linking to their site.
Point number 5 of the agreement clearly states that without this disclosure, and necessary disclosure as required by other laws, you can't make any public communication.

Remember, Amazon is strict against the violation of disclosure policy. Non-compliance may cause termination of associate membership.


  • 3# Establish Honesty and Trust

Proper disclosure for endorsement builds trust with your visitors. It helps establish a great relationship with them and exhibits your honesty and transparency. 

To achieve success in the blogging profession, you need to build a long-lasting relationship with your audience. You should always be transparent and honest. 

Who Needs to Disclose the Affiliate Links? 

Not only bloggers! Anybody who endorse a brand or product, including the product review and gets paid in any form. 

This means, if a review of any product is made to get any sort of compensation, disclosure is required.

Even you don't have a blog, you want to post the review on Facebook or Twitter, you need to disclose the product review.

If there is a space constraint, A short disclosure is okay if it is clear and conspicuous.


Affiliate Link Disclosure to Your Blog/Website

To comply with the FTC guidelines and other relevant applicable laws, the following points to be considered while making disclosures on your blog posts:

  • The disclosure ensures the clear identification of affiliate links.
  • The disclosure states your financial relationship with the brand or product you mention.
  • Visibility on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.
  • The disclosure is readable and understandable.
  • The disclosure should be placed near the affiliate links.
  • The placement, formatting, and language should be appropriate, clear, and conspicuous.
So, I'm going to tell you about the Affiliate Disclosure Best Practices for Bloggers and other publishers.
 

Affiliate Disclosure Best Practices 


Display the Affiliate Link Disclosures in an Appropriate Place

The appropriate place for displaying affiliate disclosure is subjective. In fact, no hard and fast rule is there for the placement of affiliate disclosures. 

One of the best practices is to display at the top of your post, just below the headline.

If you put the disclosure at the top of your post, it will be clearly visible. There is no need to scroll down the page to find the disclosure. The visitors can see your disclosure before reaching any affiliate link to your content.

The next option is to disclose it just above the affiliate link. Displaying disclosure above the link also ensures that your reader can read it before clicking through your link.

There is no harm if you disclose a detailed statement near the top of the post and a piece of short disclosure near the affiliate link.

Remember, if you insert multiple affiliate links in a post, there is no need to put separate disclosure for each link. But, you need to have disclosure on every endorsement page on which you mention product/brand.

Create an affiliate disclosure on a landing page, like ''Privacy Policy Page''and then linking it to the page containing endorsement is not a proper affiliate disclosure.

Put a short disclosure on each page containing endorsements and insert the link (URL) of the standalone disclosure page is the right approach.

Affiliate disclosure at the sidebar or footnote is not a good idea as the visitors may miss reading it, especially the mobile users.  

Write Affiliate Disclosure Statement in Simple Language


Write your disclosure statement in simple and understandable language. Your statement should help your audience understand- the relationship with brands or products you're mentioning.

The statement may be long or short, but it should help your readers identify the affiliate links, and a commercial benefit is there.

''I'll receive a commission if you buy a product through this link'' is an example of a short disclosure but clear and conspicuous. The language used here is simple, direct, easy to understand. 
 
There is no reason to assume that your audiences know what affiliate link is and how it works.
 
If you endorse a Network Marketing or an MLM program as a member of that program, a disclosure is needed like this:

''This is a sponsored link, and I'm a member of the company. If you join the company or buy any product using this link and ID XXXX, I'll get a commission as per their marketing plan''.


Appropriate Formatting of Affiliate Disclosures

Formatting of Disclosure statement includes the use of Font, color, style, etc.
The font use to write the disclosure should be neither too small nor too large.

Don’t use color contrasts that can blur your disclosure statements. Reminding you that your disclosure should be prominently visible, readable, and understandable.

Affiliate Disclosure to Youtube Content

Bloggers often repurpose content to make it suitable for other platforms, including YouTube, to reach a wider audience. 

You need to transform your text format into visual content, audio content, and video content depends upon the platform on which you want to promote it.

Converting the blog posts into videos and publishing them on YouTube is not new.
Many bloggers also do Vlogging on Youtube.

But if your video content includes products or brands you mentioned to monetize your YouTube Channel, the rules/guidelines for disclosure apply.

That's why you should know where to put the disclosure.

There are several ways, but I'll talk about the most commonly used ways.

  • The Description Box of your videos- video description box is a perfect place where you can put your affiliate links along with a disclosure statement.
  • Within your video content-Use the first few seconds to show the disclaimer or disclosure statement within the video content. A disclosure in text format within the video is fine, but you should provide sufficient time so that users can read the disclosure.

You can use either method or both for affiliate disclosures plus both the following methods.

  • Additional Declaration- at the time of publishing your video, YouTube asks you if your video contains any promotional content- Select ''Yes''.
  • The space to write a description about your channel- This is an ideal place to put a common affiliate disclosure statement that covers all videos published on the channel. You can put more disclaimers here if required to your business. 
Remember, The disclosure statement on the ''About'' section of the channel is not good enough. That's why a separate short disclosure is required for each video.


Affiliate Disclosure to Social Media

To build an effective content marketing strategy, you need to consider social media. Some platforms don't allow promoting affiliate links, but some do. 

So, you can promote affiliate links to a social network till it is not against their guidelines. The disclosure rules for other social media like Facebook, Linked In, Twitter aren't different. 

Although Twitter allows affiliate links, you may face a space constraint because of the maximum thresholds of character. #affiliatelink is the best way to disclose it's an affiliate link.

Example of Disclosure from Techazu.

In Techazu, Usually, I don't mention a brand or product for which I receive compensation as the site is very new. But you may get one or two posts with endorsement with a short disclosure on each page.

Besides, you'll find a stand-alone ''Disclaimer'' page on this site that includes a clause for affiliate disclosure.


Affiliate Disclosure of Techazu



Merely disclosing an endorsement is not sufficient to ensure ''clear and conspicuous''. Your intent to make the disclosure is important. 

Your disclosures should reflect that you want to convey a clear message to the readers about your relationship with the brand or product you're mentioning. 
 

Disclaimer:

This content is not to be considered legal advice as I'm not a lawyer. This is for educational purposes. For any legal issues, please consult a legal professional.


Final Thoughts

You got a clear idea about how to write affiliate disclosures, where to display them on your blog and other online platforms, and the best practices.

But, knowing something is different from implementing. Follow the affiliate disclosure best practices. It will help achieve your goals of affiliate marketing as well as blogging.




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