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The FTC, Affiliates, and Me

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Dana SmithDana Lynn Smith (photo right), author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guide series at SavvyBookMarketer.com, has 15 years of publishing experience. Her Savvy Book Marketer blog offers marketing tips for authors, and her Top Book Marketing Tips e-book is free when you sign up for her free e-zine.

On my blog and e-zine, I review products and also earn some money through affiliate programs, so I paid special attention when the Federal Trade Commission announced new disclosure guidelines that apparently apply to bloggers who review or promote products without disclosing that they are earning freebies or payments—as well as to the companies that compensate them.

I certainly can’t give legal advice, but I can tell you that I have started adding disclosures in several places. For example, I’ve added an Affiliate Disclosure section in the right sidebar of my blog. Others who have taken similar action include Chris Brogan (see chrisbrogan.com) and Jonathan Fields (see careerrenegade.com).

Letting people know that you have an affiliate relationship doesn’t need to be a negative. Brian Clark at Copyblogger has written a good article on this, “How to Turn Affiliate Marketing Disclosure into a Selling Point,” at www.copyblogger.com/affiliate-marketing-disclosure. Most people understand that bloggers who are providing them with lots of great free information need to be compensated somehow. If you’ve earned the trust of your readers, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

But the wording and placement of the disclosure can be a bit tricky. And, of course, you should endorse only products and services that you believe in.

If you have affiliates promoting your products, you may want to think about giving them some guidance on this topic as well.

For more information about how the new FTC guidelines pertain to bloggers and affiliates, see Lynn Terry’s article, “The FTC Update—In Plain English” at www.clicknewz.com/2061/ftc-update.

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