Blog disclosures are a part of running your website. You can’t get around using them as they are required by law. So, what is it you need to have on your site, so you know you are legal?
Blogging is a fun business. Think about it — you are in control of what you say and do. No boss. No one to answer to. If you decide to take the day off, you can do it! You get to be in complete control.
Or do you?
Sure, you can decide when you want to work. And, while the content you generate is up to you, there are some things you absolutely must include (if you live in the United States). Not because you want to, but because they are required. These are called blog disclosures.
(Disclosure: I am not an attorney. The information presented here is not to be construed as legal advice. If you are unsure if you need to disclose certain situations, you should seek legal counsel).
What is an affiliate disclosure?
A disclosure is a written statement informing your reader of your relationship with the products, brands, and partners you mention on your site. It shares that there is a monetary partnership that exists between you and what you promote.
Why is this required?
Blog disclosures are rules established by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). They ensure that your readers fully understand that you will be paid (or have been paid) for sharing the information contained in the post.
Your affiliate partners will also require that you disclosure properly as well. They, too, make sure you comply with these rules. I cover some of the key points below, but you must read the full report to understand what is required by law.
If you have not yet done so, make sure you add the proper legal policies to your site as soon as possible.
When do I need to include an affiliate disclosure?
Anytime you share a product, brand, or company where any money has exchanged hands or could exchange hands, you must include your disclosure statement.
Disclosures are a must on all sponsored posts. Since you were paid to write the post and talk about your client, you must advise your readers that it is a sponsored post. They must know that the relationship exists. This must be on every sponsored post you put onto your site.
Affiliate marketing is where you can make money on products you share — should your readers happen to buy. Since there is a reason for you to share the product (other than the fact that you like it), your reader must know that if they make a purchase, you will make money.
That means, if you have links on social media or a blog post, there must be disclosure included. No exception.
How do you disclose?
Blog disclosures can be simple. They should share that there is a relationship between the parties. In the instance of an affiliate partnership, they should educate your reader as to what an affiliate link means.
Most of us had no clue what the word affiliate meant before we started blogging. That is also the case with your readers. They don’t have any idea what that word means either. So, if you only say, “This is an affiliate link,” your reader will have no idea what you are telling them. They don’t know the terminology.
However, if you say, “This is an affiliate link, which means I make a small commission if you buy this product,” then they do. But, putting that long wording onto every post may not quite be the wording you want.
In the sponsored post case, you have to let your readers know that it was either sponsored or that you partnered with them to share the content.
What do you say?
Check out this affiliate disclosure example:
“This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may make a commission at no cost to you. Please see my full disclosure policy for more details.”
The important thing is that you do not include any statements to encourage links, such as “by using my links, you support my blog,” as some partners do not allow such language. For example, anything that encourages link clicks on Amazon can be grounds for affiliate termination.
Keep the statement simple and to the point.
Where do you put your affiliate disclosure?
Blog disclosures must be as close to the link or the content as possible. The reader must see this before they read or click. That means you cannot just put wording at the bottom of your post or in your footer. If that is where you’ve got yours right now, you will need to work on moving it. Soon.
Since you were paid to write the post, your reader must know about this before getting too far into your post. Here are two samples as to how you can disclose your relationship.
Review the post below. It states that it was sponsored and that money did not influence what was written – all opinions were mine.
Here is another example that took the partnership angle:
Both posts properly disclose that there is a relationship between the sponsor and the blogger. However, they do it in different ways. Each one is acceptable. The difference here was with the sponsor. One of them wanted the first one, and the other was fine with the partnership disclosure wording.
In addition to disclosing the post itself, it must also be disclosed when sharing on social media. The simple way to do this is with the #sponsored or #ad hashtag (note that #spon is not acceptable as that term is also too vague for people to understand).
You must use the hashtag because the reader must know that you were paid to write the post before they click to read. After all, the brand wanted the article written to share it with your readers to let them know about your product. That is the only reason it is on your site. It is a full ad, and so you must let people know the relationship before they read.
For both Twitter and Pinterest, using the proper hashtag is enough. You do not need to do anything more than that. However, keep in mind that Facebook has different requirements.
Facebook requires all posts that are sponsored to use their branded content tool. If any money exchanges hands (via money or even product review), you have to follow their policies. Failure to do so can result in the post being removed or your account being shut down (YIKES)!
The first thing you must do is apply to have branded content on your page. It will only take a minute to do, and then you have to sit and wait. Here is how you do this:
- Visit the Branded Content Tool page.
- Select the page you want to use the tool on.
- Hit send.
It may take a few days to get approval. When you write the post, you will select the three dots below the status box and look for the branded content tool (the handshake). Select the partner here, and then you will have the proper disclosure.
(Note: If the sponsored post is a video, you must follow the requirements outlined in the branded content policy. Make sure you carefully read this so that your video does not violate its terms.)
You also have to share the affiliate link partnership with your reader. As stated above, just saying “this is an affiliate link” is not enough. It is too vague.
Many bloggers create a longer affiliate disclosure page and link to this via a simple sentence on the blog posts. This allows you to include your own wording, in addition to the wording that specific affiliates may require.
For example, Amazon has its own disclosure statement that you must use on your site. They will suspend or deactivate your account in a heartbeat if they do not see this is done properly. Review the Operating Agreement, Section 5, where they share the content that you must include. That is pretty lengthy and so putting that into a post doesn’t always work.
The way to work around this is to create a full disclosure policy on your site. You can see the one I have on this site. Since TracieFobes.com does not promote Amazon links, that disclosure is not required. (Please do not copy this disclosure. You can purchase a disclosure policy here.)
You can see that I am candid about the fact that I will make money. I don’t feel shame in saying this either. This is my business, and affiliate sales are one of my income streams.
I then connect that page to every post on my site, where they could be an affiliate link. I placed a simple disclosure and link at the very top of my post. That way, the reader can see this before they even read anything in my post, and certainly before they would ever click on any of my links.
On Social Media Posts
It is also common practice to share affiliate links on social media as well. Once again, a hashtag will work. It can be #affiliate (do not abbreviate to #aff). This works on both Twitter and Pinterest. And, while it can work on Facebook, it is not a good practice.
Facebook has algorithms that read what to show and what to not. The word affiliate is one of them that happens to lower your reach on products. But, of course, you have to disclose the relationship, so what do you do? Rather than be blunt, you can use creative statements instead. Some I’ve seen include:
“We share things we love with all of you. If you happen to buy, we will make a small commission.”
“If you buy any of the products we share, you keep our cups filled with coffee.”
“We adore sharing things we love with the Quirky Momma FB community. These aren’t our products or companies that we are working with, but we thought it might be something that interests you. We do get a cut that keeps us in enough coffee to run this page 24 hours a day!” (Quirky Momma)
Make sure you read your affiliate partner terms before creating your statement, as some do not allow wording that such as “supporting” us. Have fun and get creative with your own statement, but make sure you disclose the relationship somehow!
How do you add an affiliate disclosure to your posts?
There are different methods you can use – both manual and automated.
Some themes offer hooks (such as themes and child themes from Genesis). You can locate the hook that places content after the title but before the content. Add the code, which will look something like this:
<em>This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and buy, I may make a commission at no cost to you. See my <a href=”link to your policy” target=”_blank”>Affiliate Disclosure Policy</a> for more information.
Now, when displayed, it will look like the one I shared in my post above.
Use the Ad Inserter Plugin
If you want to insert the disclosure on posts automatically, you can also use an affiliate disclosure plugin, such as Ad Inserter Plugin. It will show the content where you want it to on every single post on your site (or you can exclude it from pages if you wish). It is simple to add and use.
Log into your site, and from your dashboard, select Plugins > Add New.
Type Ad Inserter into the search box.
Select Install Now.
Then, click the blue Activate button.
Next, select Settings > Ad Inserter
Type the disclosure and add the code for your policy in the black box.
Scroll down to the settings and click to enable it. Under insertion, choose the placement where you want the content to display – which should be before content. Then, under alignment, leave set to default. When done, select save.
You will see this on your blog posts now!
If you need to turn this off on any posts (as you would not want this on sponsored posts or may not want on other content), you can easily do so.
Navigate back to Settings > Ad Inserter.
Select the block where your disclosure policy was typed.
Scroll down and select Lists > Post Ids. You will see a list of your posts shows. You can find it by either scrolling or select the post(s) where you do not want it to show. Save your changes, and then the statement will no longer show on those articles.
Create a Reusable Block in Gutenberg
If you are a bit nervous about adding one more plugin to your site, you can create a reusable block instead. When you type your post, you will add that block after the title but before the post content.
Add a paragraph block to your post and type the statement. When done, select the three dots to see the drop-down menu and choose to Add to Reusable Blocks.
Type in the name for your block and hit save.
Now, when you need to add it to your post, select the “+” button to add a block and choose Reusable. You will see it in the list and can click to add it to your post where needed!
Do I need any other disclosures or legal policies on my site?
Actually, there are more blog disclosures you must include. If you plan to work with any ad network, you will also need a Privacy and Disclaimer policy.
Terms and Conditions Policy
You need to make sure you are clear as to how your visitors can use the content. Your Terms and Conditions policy protects your content.
A disclaimer policy shares information about the content you have on your site and what they may see on links you include directing them from your site. It advises that the information you post is done in good faith and without intent to allude. Purchase your disclaimer from an attorney.
When it comes to your site, you still have 100% control over what you want to say. But, there are some regulations you also must be aware of, so you are complying with local laws.