What’s better than a side hustle where you earn passive income? Affiliate marketing on your blog helps you do just that. But you have to disclose your affiliate relationships, or you risk getting banned by your affiliates.
Lucky for you, one of our founders, Erik Dietrich, can tell you all of the ins and outs of how to avoid that. Curious to learn more on how to disclose affiliate links to your blog?
Check out the video below where he explains this all in detail.
The Gist of Affiliate Links and Being Compliant
So we’re not experts on the Federal Trade Commission (the FTC), and we’re not lawyers at Hit Subscribe, but we do know some basics behind what you should and shouldn’t do for affiliate programs.
The FTC (in the US anyway) normally goes after programs like Amazon and affiliate vendors, rather than the bloggers that are taking advantage of those programs. So you’re far more likely to have someone like Amazon policing your site and saying, “Hey, you’re not in compliance with us!”
Nevertheless, it’s better to do everything right because it doesn’t really matter who comes after you or kicks you out when the goal is to earn a little bit of money with your blog.
Which brings us to the point of why you would disclose affiliate links for a reader. The point of this is to inform the reader if there’s an agenda.
That’s really what the FTC is doing here. They’re making sure that if you find some piece of information from somebody on the internet, you’re aware of any financial incentive they have to color their information.
The Details of How to Disclose Affiliate Links
And so we want to show you how to be in compliance while also being a good citizen and being honest with your readers. When it comes time for you to disclose affiliate links, here are a few strategies Erik has seen.
Here’s the first way: you can put a little blurb at the top of your blog post that says something like, “this site uses affiliate links, click here for more information.” And then with this here, you can add links to the whole page, since there’s some legal ease that explains everything in detail when a reader clicks on “for more information.”
The reason people do this is because there are a couple of requirements about the Amazon Associates program, and affiliate linking in general. The requirements state that you have to put information about affiliate linking before the link, so you can’t go burying it in the footer.
However, with this technique, there are some technicality fouls and it may not be the best or the clearest way for readers to understand affiliate links.
Strategy number two is another thing that probably isn’t totally aboveboard. For this strategy, people will create some kind of find and replace, maybe through a WordPress plugin, where every time they do an affiliate link, it inserts a little bit of text that says, parenthetically, “affiliate link.”
This is better than not disclosing affiliate links, but it’s not necessarily what the FTC is looking for because it’s not explaining to the reader what disclosure means. And from the FTC’s perspective, they want the reader to understand affiliate links.
So that’s the second strategy. We wouldn’t necessarily suggest either one of these aforementioned techniques because it’s not technically dotting all your I‘s and crossing all of your T’s.
Welcome to the third strategy. This is where we’re getting into something that’s fully compliant. It’s not the one we’re going to suggest above all else, but it’s perfectly valid. This is where you have some kind of text snippet that you put at the beginning of any post with affiliate links, or maybe just any post at all.
In WordPress, you could do this with something like a shortcode, where you just put this in and expand it. And at the beginning of every post, you’ll see a little blurb that explains what affiliate links are and why you’re doing them.
And that brings us to the fourth thing that you can do, which is what Erik demonstrates in the video. For this technique, you’ll put something in kind of the side gutter as a widget in your blog near the top.
This way, you can have a blurb near the top that’ll explain everything, but it doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the post.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few philosophical approaches to the copy as well. What we suggest is to just write about disclosing affiliate links in plain English. Explain the who, what, why, and how affiliate links work.
This allows you to give the reader a little bit of an education on the subject. And it’s also not hiding anything. This way, you’re saying that you’re here to make a little bit of money to cover your costs, and hopefully, that’s okay with your reader.
Time to Get to Business
Now you hopefully know a little bit more about the logistics for how to disclose affiliate links. You can check out Erik’s Youtube video for more information and details, or you can head to Hit Subscribe’s Youtube Channel for other blog-related content as well.