Federal Trade Commission (FTC) & Disclosure Policies: What You Should Really Know!

If you’re a blogger that earns money through affiliate marketing, especially through endorsements of products and services, then this should really interest you.

Over the years, nay these past few years when blogging has become big business on the net, many people have come up with a lot of misinformation about making money with blogs. One of those is the issue of disclosure policies as they have to do with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) endorsement guideline.

Some of the misinformation you may have come across are now cleared in the latest reversed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) endorsement guides. Going through the frequently asked questions and the answers provided by the FTC was an eye opener for me.

Now, it is not that I’ve really been intimidated by many of the information that has always been around. I’ve tried as much as possible to stay within the limits of what is required. However, with the latest clarification, it shows that the FTC is not in any way against bloggers.

Here are some of the questions answered that you should note:

Question: Isn’t it common knowledge that some bloggers are paid to tout products or that if you click a link on my site to buy a product, I’ll get a commission for that sale?

Answer: First, many bloggers who mention products don’t receive anything for their reviews and don’t get a commission if readers click on a link to buy a product. Second, the financial arrangements between some bloggers and advertisers may be apparent to industry insiders, but not to everyone else who reads a blog. Under the law, an act or practice is deceptive if it misleads “a significant minority” of consumers. So even if some readers are aware of these deals, many readers aren’t. That’s why disclosure is important.

Question: I’ve read that bloggers who don’t comply with the Guides can be fined $11,000? Is that true?

Answer: No. The press reports that said that were wrong. There is no fine for not complying with an FTC guide.

Question: Are you monitoring bloggers?

Answer: We’re not monitoring bloggers and we have no plans to. If concerns about possible violations of the FTC Act come to our attention, we’ll evaluate them case by case. If law enforcement becomes necessary, our focus will be advertisers, not endorsers – just as it’s always been.

Question: Is there special language I have to use to make the disclosure?

Answer: No. The point is to give readers the information. Your disclosure could be as simple as “Company X gave me this product to try . . ..”

Question: Do I have to hire a lawyer to help me write a disclosure?

Answer: No. What matters is effective communication, not legalese. A disclosure like “Company X sent me [name of product] to try, and I think it’s great” gives your readers the information they need. Or, at the start of a short video, you might say, “Some of the products I’m going to use in this video were sent to me by their manufacturers.” That gives the necessary heads-up to your viewers.

These answers are revealing indeed. You may want to read more about this on the FTC official page The FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking

I don’t know what you’ve always thought of the FTC endorsement policy before now. But whatever you’ve thought it’s time to change your mind.

Let me hear what you think about this. Post your comments below.

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