An affiliate disclosure – also called an affiliate disclaimer – is a statement saying that certain links on a platform are affiliate links, informing users of your website that you are compensated for promoting certain products.
In other words: it alerts your users of the presence of affiliate links on your website. These links refer your users to another’s products or services. The owner of the content typically gets paid a commission by the other company when someone buys something through their affiliate link.
In this article you’ll find everything that you need to know about affiliate disclosures. Why do you need one in the first place? And what should be included in a good disclosure? Dive right in to find out!
This is a simple example of an affiliate disclosure, that this website is using in their sidebar to let readers know that their content uses Amazon Associate links, earning them a commission for every purchase made. Including that this doesn’t mean additional costs for the reader is probably a smart move, because otherwise they might feel like they are paying your commission on top of the original selling price.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Why do you need an affiliate disclosure?
- What could go wrong when you fail to add an affiliate disclosure?
- The importance of being trusted by your readers
- How to add an affiliate disclosure to your blog or website?
- Affiliate link disclosure examples
- Conclusion affiliate disclosures
The first and foremost reason why you need an affiliate disclosure is that it is mandated by the FTC. They state in their guideline that you need to include a disclosure when you are being compensated for reviewing or otherwise writing about products or services.
Those reviews or other content might influence a consumer’s decisions or purchases. It makes sense that you should inform your readers about any commissions you might receive for them making a purchase via one of your links.
Including an affiliate disclosure is, therefore, also simply a matter of best business practice. It helps you build an open and transparent relationship with your readers. It helps them to make informed decisions, based – at least partly – on your great content. And helping your readers should be the main target behind any affiliate website.
You might be wondering if adding a disclosure is really that important. If that’s the case, you might find the following example eye-opening.
A prime example of what can go wrong without a proper affiliate disclosure is the case between now-defunct online retailer LulaRoe and blogger Christina Hinks. After reviewing several blogs, it was found that Hinks failed to disclose she was an affiliate for over 100 posts.
LulaRoe was later sued for $49 million by disgruntled consultants because they feel as though the company tricked people into joining their group by saying you can earn a six-figure salary if you join the team and start selling their clothes. LulaRoe has been pegged with accusations of running a pyramid scheme.
In this case, consumers read Hinks’ blogs and decided they wanted to join the LulaRoe team, thus falling for the alleged pyramid scheme. If Hinks is being compensated by LulaRoe, it’s unfair for her to recommend their products directly. What’s more, the discredited state of LulaRoe has also harmed the credibility of Hinks.
This example illustrates the importance of being open and transparent to your readers, but also about always knowing what you are actually endorsing. Would Hinks have made the same choices if she knew about the pyramid scheme? Or did she know, but didn’t care in pursuit of making a few bucks? We’ll never know, but a disclosure about her getting compensated for promoting LulaRoe might have helped to soften the blow to her credibility.
No one wants to be seen as an affiliate marketer that is trying to deceive their readers by posting overly positive reviews or saying things like “this product was sent to me in exchange for my honest opinion”. In the long run, content that is genuinely aimed at helping consumers to make better decisions will always win out over content that is deceitful.
A nice bonus is that you, as the one writing the content, might sleep a lot better when you know that your commissions weren’t collected at the expense of your readers.
So what should be included in your disclosure?
The Federal Trade Commission has recently revised its guidelines for affiliate disclosures. This is a list of six things you need to know about them:
- Are your readers going to leave your site and go to another website? If so, have a disclosure pointing out that they’re leaving your site. You need to post this on all posts or pages that contain affiliate links – including the overview page.
- If you’re sharing affiliate links across social media platforms, it’s okay to include them in plain text or provide a shortened link that includes the affiliate ID at the end. You have to include a disclosure on any posts that are being used to promote products via affiliate links.
- Don’t use vague language to conceal that affiliate links are present, such as putting the link in an image or hyperlink. You have to be transparent about the links being affiliate links.
- It’s okay to publish reviews of products using affiliate links if you believe the review is truthful and accurate. This rule applies to all affiliate links, even if it’s a post about a product you have created.
- Product reviews aren’t being required to provide an affiliate disclosure unless they have been provided or sent by a company for free or at a discount. If compensation has been given for the review, include a disclosure.
- If you create content for affiliate links, the disclosure has to be in plain text at the top of the page or post being used to promote an affiliate link! This is so it’s extremely obvious that there are affiliate links on your site.
Now that you know the importance of affiliate disclosures, it’s time to get to the technical part. There are a few different ways to add affiliate disclosures to your website.
Although affiliate disclosures should appear on every page that includes affiliate links and content, it’s good practice to include a dedicated affiliate disclosure page on your website. You can then link to this page from prominent places on your site, such as:
- Terms and conditions
Please note that this is not a replacement for displaying disclosures in close proximity to any affiliate links or content. It is simply a nice way to offer your readers some additional information on the affiliate partnerships you might be endorsing.
Here are some examples of texts that you might use as the basis for formulating your very own affiliate disclosures.
I may receive a small commission from products/services bought through this site.
Another example of placing a disclosure might look something like this:
As you can see, the disclosure is placed at the beginning of the section that includes affiliate links, letting readers know what they’re in for right from the start. This way, readers know what kind of links they’re clicking on.
A lot of affiliate networks already have widgets you can add to your site, so there’s no need for you to create one yourself.
As we have seen in this article, when you are hosting an affiliate website – or otherwise engage in promoting affiliate links – you are required to use affiliate disclosures to inform your readers.
You might have an impact on the decisions that people make and the products that they buy. It’s only natural that you let them know what is informing those decisions.
Even if it wasn’t required by law, it would simply be a good business practice to be transparent towards your readers. You’re making an impact on their lives. The least you could do is let them know how that impact came to be and what your interest in it is.