Whether you’re an experienced affiliate marketer or a newbie blogger who's starting their affiliate marketing career from scratch, you must have good experience with affiliate link disclosure.
To some of you, this term may be new, while others may have some knowledge of it. But don't worry, we are here to help you out!
This article will provide you with all you need to know about affiliate link disclosure and how important it can be for your business.
A Guide to Affiliate Link Disclosure
Wayne Marciano launched Refer-it.com in 1997, which provided a glimpse into the affiliate network and how it works for both affiliates and merchants. This platform is referred to as the first affiliate program directory.
Subsequent directories include AssociatesPrograms.com, AffiliateGuide.com, ReveNews.com, and more. All of these platforms exchange information on affiliate directories and networks.
In 2000, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released guidance on affiliate marketing and disclosure. This was an attempt to educate people about the legal aspects of online advertising.
This regulation was updated in 2009, and it became mandatory to disclose affiliate links on blog posts and other pages to avoid misleading endorsements and advertising.
Let’s discuss link disclosure in more detail, as well as a few examples to set you on the right path.
What Is Affiliate Link Disclosure?
Affiliate disclosure is disclaimer language used to inform the audience about the affiliate relationships of a page or blog post with brands, products, or services that one publicly recommends.
Affiliate disclosure is used to be transparent with the people reading your blog so that the chances of misleading recommendations can be avoided.
A lot of visitors to your site won’t know much about affiliate marketing and the hype around it.
Therefore, disclosure is crucial. Affiliate disclosures inform the readers that you are being paid for the endorsement or sponsored content.
Relevant Article: How Does Affiliate Marketing Work - A Complete Beginner's Guide
Who Needs to Use Affiliate Disclosures?
Every sport is played by a few rules, and the same goes for businesses as well. The idea is not just to make money, but to make money ethically.
The FTC ensures that business is done in the right spirit and that brands do not mislead the public with false information.
Affiliate link disclosures must be used by anyone who gets paid in some way or another to make a public review of a product, including bloggers, social media influencers, television personalities, celebrities, and more.
The Importance of Disclosure
Affiliate link disclosure is very important for any blogger or affiliate marketer. Let's take a look at a couple reasons why!
1. Disclosure Ensures Transparency
Disclosure helps to improve public transparency. It allows you to establish a trustworthy base with your customers and reduces the chances of any misconceptions or misleading information.
The base of all relationships (including customer relations) is trust, and appropriate disclosures help brands to take the right step towards it.
The more honest you are with your customers, the better and stronger the relationships are built.
2. It Increases Financial Support
The benefits of having a loyal customer base are endless. One such benefit is constant financial and economic support, even in adverse situations.
Appropriate disclosures ensure improved financial relationships and keep you from being reported and fined.
Where Should the Disclosure Go?
There is no rule about where to put affiliate disclosures, but the important rule of thumb is to make them visible on your site.
A good place to put the disclosure is at the top of every post. Avoid putting disclosure information at the bottom of the page, since this will not be as visible to readers.
Pro Tip: If you’re confused about where to put disclosures, you can use affiliate disclosure plugins that will assist you with automatic placement.
How to Write a Disclosure
Now that you’re convinced about the importance of affiliate link disclosures, it’s important to draft one appropriately.
There are certain fundamental rules that you need to follow while disclosing your links. Let’s dive into them.
1. Make It Simple and Clear
Always keep in mind that you need to keep your affiliate disclosure clear and crisp. Don't complicate it too much. Keep a transparent and proactive approach.
And don't spend time writing long paragraphs. Disclosures are essential, but they don’t need to be lengthy.
2. Your Intent Matters
Although it’s important that your disclosures are grammatically correct, what’s more important is your intent. So, make the point clear and easy so that your readers can understand it well.
Your disclosure must impart the impression that you are doing so by your own free will and in the right spirit. It should not sound like a mere compliance statement.
Quoting the example of the FTC:
"I get commissioned for purchases made through this link."
Here, the point is clear and simple for readers to understand.
3. Avoid Hiding Your Disclosure
As mentioned before, the reason for writing a disclosure is to build trust and transparency. Make sure that your readers are aware of how you’re getting paid for writing a review.
Explain to them whether you’re getting paid in cash or in kind (free products), and place the disclosure right where it’s easily visible, even right next to a product link.
It is always a good idea to be crystal clear with your readers. If your content is unique, people will continue reading your reviews or blogs, regardless of whether you’re getting paid or not.
Related Article: How to Write Content for Affiliate Marketing
4. Make Your Disclosure Interesting
Who doesn’t like interesting things?
Many people might think that disclosures are not the best avenue for tapping into your creativity. But, hold on! There are many things that can be done to do away with a monotonous disclosure.
You can build a story into your disclosure. You can take it as an opportunity to talk more about yourself and to make the situation light.
You can link to any of your pages as well, maybe your contact page or your social media profile.
And shun the stigma around using emojis in your disclosure. It allows you to be more expressive as a brand.
Humor never disappoints anyone, especially when used at the right time and in the right amount. Use it to be human and connect more with your audience.
This remains an untapped territory, and it’s a great opportunity to interact with your visitors.
5. Don't Assume
Your readers all come from different backgrounds. Some know what affiliate marketing is, while others might not. So never assume anything about your target audience.
Stating that you use affiliate links on your blog is generally not sufficient. It is a better idea to explain to your audience how you get commissioned through your affiliate links.
You can also provide links to articles that explain what affiliate marketing is and how it works.
6. Keep It Direct
Make sure to keep your affiliate link disclosures direct and short. Avoid beating around the bush, and state whether you are getting money in your pocket or free products on your table for reviewing the brand or company.
Tell your visitors everything you feel they have a right to know. This will help you build their trust and brand value.
Try to create a template that you can use for all disclosures. Don't make it too fancy or over- complicated, as this can lead to miscommunication.
7. Take the Right Amount of Time
Remember that writing a disclosure is not always a cup of tea. So, make sure you have clarity about what you write. You don't need to invest hours into it, but do invest sufficient time.
You can look to the experts or draw inspiration from certain websites and successful associate marketers. The idea is to still look at this as a value-adding activity and not delegate it without appropriate follow-ups.
Make sure you read the FTC guidelines to get a more clear idea about the affiliate disclosure policy to enable consumer protection. Needless to say, you must comply with all legal nuances.
8. Avoid Sidebars
Try to avoid mentioning the affiliate disclosure statement on sidebars. While it is absolutely legal, it imparts the impression that the brand is trying to hide the disclaimer.
While you might avoid a fine or legal conundrum, brands must strive to do what is right and not just what is legal.
It is all about the customer’s perception of the brand. And being tricky with the placement of the disclosure could prove to be a blow to your brand’s image.
Moreover, people who use a mobile phone to visit your website won’t see the disclaimer. If an ad pops up at the side, it could hide the release that you’ve written.
9. Specify Every Detail
Well, the beauty of relationships is that there are no hard and fast rules to building a strong one.
The idea here is to build trust, and, unfortunately, there is no real formula for doing that. So, try to go a step beyond.
Apart from the mundane legal requirements, make sure to add simple yet elaborated details.
There is no need to get into the minutiae of your financials, but you might want to give brief insight into how you’re earning through these affiliate links - maybe mention your sponsorships.
To err is human!
Even if you have written the disclosure with the utmost care, it’s always a good idea to recheck certain things.
When in doubt, ask someone you trust to proofread it to get a different viewpoint or more suggestions.
How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Social Media
Social media plays an important role in our lives. We use social media to stay updated with our friends and to find out what’s happening all around the globe.
Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook provide shopping facilities too.
Social media influencers play an essential role in building the brand value of a company or a product. Before we get into how to disclose affiliate links on social media, let's understand who a social media influencer is.
Social media influencers are people who can influence a customer’s buying decisions owing to their social media reach. They collaborate with brands to promote or review products in their social space.
Their followers get to know about the product through them and make purchases using their referral codes. This is a form of an affiliate sale.
Make Sure That You Place Disclosures Correctly
The crucial aspect of disclosing affiliate links on social media is to place them right. According to FTC guidelines, your disclosures must be placed in an easily visible position.
The user must not have to search for the required disclosure, otherwise, you could leave yourself open to reports and fines.
Try to Add Relevant Hashtags
Try to use the right hashtags on social media posts. For example, #spon for sponsor products or #collab for collaboration.
These hashtags enhance your social media engagements. They form a virtual library of all your social media mentions and make social listening easy.
Facebook has 2.8 billion monthly active users, so it’s a great platform to use for affiliate marketing. If you are using Facebook for affiliate marketing programs, make sure that you disclose affiliate links right on the top.
Type the caption, paste your affiliate link into the text box, and then use #like, #aff, or #affliate at the end of your post.
Twitter enables brands to communicate directly to their users. It has been steadily rising as a customer service platform over the years, and it serves as a great way to collect relevant user feedback. It can also be used to create brand awareness of your product.
Unlike Instagram, Twitter restricts the caption limit, so you should use the Twitter hashtags of the shortest disclosures, such as #aff, #afflink, and #ad.
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with around 1 billion monthly active users. Affiliate advertising programs have found a new savior in Instagram, with brands clogging the platform with new content every day,
This makes it important to stay a step ahead.
Instagram doesn't have any caption restrictions and is ideal for affiliate marketers, so it can be used similarly to Facebook. Hashtags like #aff, #afflink, and #affiliate can be added for product promotion.
This can also be used to boost the brand image by portraying how your brand has been ethically complying with all of the affiliate policies.
Relevant article: 10 Tips to Crush Instagram Marketing in 2021
Pinterest has gained immense popularity within a short timeframe, with a large portion of people being inspired by it before making purchasing decisions.
Being a visual platform, it is perfect for affiliate marketing. You can add pins to your posts, and, in fact, most of the "pinners" end up purchasing similar products.
To include disclosure, you can add hashtags like #aff and #affiliate work.
Related article: Affiliate Marketing on Pinterest - A Complete Guide
Some Examples of Affiliate Disclosures
Now that you know all about affiliate disclosure, let’s take a look at a few affiliate disclosure examples from actual websites and blog posts.
The Wirecutter is an excellent example of a brand website with the proper disclosure.
"Wirecutter is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission."
Their About Us page educates its readers about the working of affiliate link disclosures. They also have a separate Q & A section to answer all your questions regarding content and recommendation.
Driven by Decor
Driven by Décor is a platform that shares with you different ideas about home décor and products. They know how to maintain affiliate marketing and build a relationship with their readers.
And not only their blog content, but their social media accounts are also leveraged to boost public trust. An example reads:
“I use affiliate links, and to know more details, click here.”
The DIY Playbook
The DIY Playbook is another popular blogging page with home decor, DIY, and interior designing ideas. They maintain their blogging pages with disclosures mentioned above their posts.
In My Own Style
In My Own Style has done a fantastic job with their disclosure page. When you read their blog posts, you get an immediate idea of how they operate the website.
On the above-linked disclaimer page, they discuss how they make money and how the channel affects content. It is one of the most in-depth and comprehensive disclosures out there.
Making Sense of Cents
Making Sense of Cents is another successful and popular blogging site. There is a disclosure before every article, and you will also find a complete explanatory text on FTC compliance.
They cover all the bases and make sure that their audience knows every detail about how they earn and which posts are sponsored.
Young House Love
Young House Love is another famous example of how disclosure works. While they have a separate page that contains more of their disclaimer info, you’ll find a small disclaimer at the bottom of many of their articles.
Remember what we said about placing your disclaimers?
An affiliate link disclosure at the end of a post is not considered the best placement option. So, make sure that you place your disclaimer either at the top or in another area where it is easily visible to your readers.
Pro tip: Try to avoid sidebars for placing your disclosures as well.
You can go through all of these websites, and many others, to get an idea about how to design your own link disclosures the right way.
If you need some more inspiration, here are a few samples to help you out:
This is a professional review blog for which I get paid a commission from the company. All the products are tested thoroughly and ensure high-grade quality. I have received these products free of cost, but I share my honest review of them. These reviews are done based on my opinion.
This blog receives a commission for using the company names and products for home décor. These are tried and tested products to ensure top quality. All of our opinions are honest, and our suggestions are unbiased.
If you are a blogger or someone who reviews products, you need to have a short affiliate link disclosure if you earn money by referring to those products.
Make sure that you design it the right way and place it in the right area.
And remember to visit the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) website to read their guidelines as well, so you’ll know exactly how to avoid any fines or other issues.
Maintain a healthy and loyal relationship with your readers, and more opportunities will come your way!
Happy blogging, and of course, we at BrandBuilders.io are here for you should you need a helping hand with your affiliate marketing business.