Blog Disclosures: How Ethical Are Bloggers?

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Many bloggers are extremely uncomfortable with revealing that they are being compensated, but its unlawful not to do so.  I don’t know why this is such a taboo topic!  If you give more than you take, contribute to your community, and produce good quality content you should be compensated for your hard work.  I have witnessed individuals drop $300-$500 dollars on a concert ticket to entertain themselves and make celebrities even more rich, so I’m sure they will not mind you making 5 cents off an affiliate link…lol!  A year ago I barely knew anything about blog disclosures, but things can change quickly.  Now that I have the opportunity to partner with companies and use affiliate links on my blog, I have discovered that I may be doing something incorrect (it’s debatable), but we’ll get into that later.  Let’s start by briefly discussing the basics.

Explanation of the Term FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act. Its mission is to protect consumers to ensure that products and services are described truthfully online, and that consumers understand what they are paying for.

Disclosure Statements

A disclosure statement ensures that your readers know that you have a relationship with a brand or are being compensated.  According to the FTC’s publication, How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” disclosures are required to prevent an advertisement from being deceptive, unfair and must be presented “clearly and conspicuously.”   Disclosures should be placed at the beginning of your posts and should not be buried within the page. Furthermore, disclosures are good thing because you have the ability to build trust with your audience by being very open and transparent with them.  In addition, it allows your readers to be able to make a decision based on your judgement, which makes you more of an authority in your niche.

Disclosure Requirements

  • In your blog post your relationship with a brand and/or compensation that you may have received to share or promote a product should be clearly stated
  • In your social media posts (pinterest, twitter, facebook) hashtags such as #sponsored should be used

Now I want to tell you what a plethora of bloggers and I have may be doing incorrectly. Most bloggers will inform you when a post is sponsored (meaning that they have received compensation to discuss or promote something), but there is still some confusion about affiliate links.  I use them on my blog and although I have a Disclosure Page at the top of my blog, but is it enough?  There is a train of thought that your readers should know before they click off your site that he/she are being taking to an affiliate  link where you earn commission or a percentage from their purchases.  Here is my disclosure:

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There seems to be different perspectives about using affiliate links, but some bloggers inform their readers that they use them by indicating the following:

  • affiliate link____
  • this post contains affiliate links

I really did not have a clear understanding of this until I took responsibility and started doing the research.  I am not at the top of the food chain when it comes to the blogging world, but I do make money from my affiliate links.  Think about how many successful bloggers are making thousands of dollars each month, while not revealing to their readers that they are clicking affiliate links….a good amount would be my guess!  Could they use the excuse of  “I didn’t know”?  I don’t think so, when you have been in the blogging game for awhile, are working with big name brands, and are widely popular, it is hard for me to believe that you have never heard of the FTC…lol

 I try my best to make sure that my blog disclosures are correct because that is my duty to my readers.  It is unethical not to reveal these things to your followers, and quite frankly I do not believe that most people care.  If you are providing your audience with excellent free quality content, they will want to see you succeed.  I receive so many emails from my supporters telling me that they never want me to stop blogging because I inspire them so much, but there is no way that I could afford to keep blogging at this point without receiving some monetary gain.  The blogging world can become very time consuming and expensive, so compensation is important.  Just remember to be an ethical blogger, and do the right thing, or you could possibly lose the trust and the support of your readers.