Don’t Fear the Disclosure

This post contains affiliate links. Because this is an affiliate marketing blog, so, #duh. This means I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post.

Guys, let's talk about this. I know you don't want to, because you feel a little smarmy about it, but we need to. OK? OK.

The FTC disclosure.

You gotta do it. I know you think it'll turn your readers off, but trust me, it's for your own good. It's also pretty necessary in order to work with a number of companies. If you disclose that you received a product for free in a review, or that a post is a sponsored post, why wouldn't you disclose that you could be receiving a little skrilla — at, ahem, no extra cost to your readers — for posting a link that they may make a purchase through? It's the right thing to do, y'all.

I know with The Broke-Ass Bride, when we first came across the disclosure issue, we went back and forth on how, where, etc., because we didn't want to seem “salesy”.

But guys? YOU ARE BEING SALESY.

But that's the glory of working in affiliate marketing — you're being salesy in the most organic way, because you're choosing what companies you promote rather than talking about a company you have absolutely zero idea about (how many times have you gotten totally stymied writing a sponsored post?).

With affiliate marketing, you're telling your readers “Hey! I like this company, so I'm linking to it!” which, in turn, builds reader trust and brand recognition. Disclosing that you might make money, too, may even increase your sales (it did for us) because your readers like you, and they want you to succeed and if they're going to be buying wedding stationery anyway, you may as well provide an option where they can buy from a company you trust and you make a little somethin' somethin' in the meantime. Ya dig?

I asked Adam Riemer to divvy up his two cents on why disclosure isn't only good, but necessary:

“*Disclosure. I am not a Lawyer and this is not legal advice. If you want legal advice, please contact a licensed attorney.

Having an advertising disclosure is important for numerous reasons. The main one is that if you want to make money, get sponsorships, do giveaways or continue to be compensated for your work, you have to disclose. Not only is there a good chance the FTC will eventually take responsibility from the advertiser and place it on you, but the following could all potentially happen if you don’t use them.

Affiliate commissions reversed: If you don’t disclose your links on social media sites or before your content in a visible space, during the month’s end review, all your commissions may get reversed. This is starting to gain speed as more merchants are realizing the importance of their partners using disclosures. Now all your work has been for nothing.

Sponsorships drying up: A nickname is pay to play. If you charge for sponsored posts and don’t disclose them, especially if you link from social sites to the sponsor’s site, they could pull all future sponsorships and demand their money back. By not disclosing you may be putting them at risk and there is a slight but possible chance they could take legal action against you if they get in trouble.

Everyone has a right to make money with their blog or website. Adding a disclosure could be scary at first, but from my experience it has increased click throughs, increased conversions and the trust with my readers on my own personal websites. I also do it different for each site.

On some I use “advertising disclosure” in the header and link to a policy. In others I start with something like “This post contains affiliate links which aren’t marked. If you shop through them, I’ll earn a small commission. It’s like a tip for bringing you this content and helps pay for the website to stay online.” On others I literally say, “Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this content, please sign up for my newsletter, share this post on social sites and make sure to click through and shop through the links below so I can earn a commission and bring you more posts.”

Having disclosures visible and clearly labeled “advertising disclosure” or “earnings disclosure” has helped me to bond with my readers, not scare them off. It has also helped me to increase my earnings. Don’t be afraid to be honest, be more afraid to be dishonest and hide it in a drop down, a footer or not to use one at all. Everyone has a right to make money, if your readers respect you and your content, they won’t mind supporting you since you help them with their lives. If you want help creating a disclosure that you feel comfortable with, please feel free to contact me and we can build a custom one for you! ”

TL;DR: Just disclose.

You're not going to scare your readers away, but if you don't do it, you could really end up hurting yourself, mmmkay?

I use the FMTC Disclosure Plugin, which automatically codes it in to each and every one of my posts. I would highly recommend signing up for their Publisher Toolkit as well, as it has oodles of fun goodies for bloggers.

Author: Christen