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Do you Disclose Affiliate Links?

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of March 2010 Affiliate Programs 0 Comments

One of the most common questions I’m asked since the new FTC regulations regarding bloggers came in is around disclosing affiliate links.

As an Australian I’m not directly impacted by the FTC and its regulations so I’ve not really had to change my own approach to disclosure – but I’d be interested to hear a bit of discussion on the topic – particularly around these questions:

  1. Do you disclose affiliate links on your blog in some way?
  2. If so – how do you do it (every time you use one, in the bottom of posts, site wide disclosures…. something else)?
  3. if so – has the FTC regulations impacted what you do?

My personal approach for the last couple of years has been to have a sitewide disclosure rather than a per post one (although here on ProBlogger I have been noting affiliate links in posts more often lately).

What about you – do you disclose affiliate links?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Seems like most people disclose – and I do too – cos I think it is the right thing to do.

    But Nathan has a point: At which point does it become an insult to the intelect of your reader?

    I am outside the US so it does not impact me per se, but when MacDonalds have to put “Hot” of cups of coffee they sell (world wide), where will it end? I mean if you buy cold coffee you complain!

  2. Another thought: Does having a disclaimer page let you of the hook?

    If a reader comes to your post from a search engine, they may well not go to your disclaimer page (even if they see the link).

    So is this really effective (or just a way to comply with a rather silly law) ? What about a disclaimer in the footer of the page?

  3. I don’t disclose affiliate links, well, I don’t promote using my blog that often. But when I do, I try to make it kind of obvious that I am recommending a product and that if my reader will buy it, I’ll be earning money. So, in a way I disclose my affiliate links but not in a direct way, like writing I’m earning money if you will buy from my link.

  4. I use Nuffnang and Project Wonderful advertising, so I find that Nuffnang has already disclosed it for me, with the little buttons saying, ‘I serve Nuffnang ads’ and ‘ads by Nuffnang’ already placed in with my regular ad placements.

    With Project Wonderful, it has a message underneath my ad box that says, ‘your ad could be here, right now’. Then the reader will click on it and be taken to the page where I am selling ad spots.

    Is that enough in terms of disclosure? I always thought it was, but now I wonder..

  5. i don’t have reason to disclose affiliate links :D

  6. I HATE when bloggers don’t disclose affiliate links. The first thing I do when reading a review of a product is to check the links. If they are affiliate links and the author did not disclose that fact, I leave the blog, unsubscribe, and never visit again.

  7. I have a site wide disclosure and disclose in each post if I’ve been provided a sample or of it’s a sponsored post or if it’s an affiliate link.

  8. Yes, I disclose. I have a general statement on my about page, plus a standard disclaimer on every post page. Depending on the situation, I may also include an additional disclosure on specific posts.

  9. red rope says: 03/21/2010 at 11:26 pm

    As with so many of your posts its the comments section that I love – it provides a wonderful snapshot into the world of blogging and the wider internet marketing community.

    From the arrogance of US readers like @Mary Jo – if non US companies need to adhere to US business rules to do business in the US via their blog then I assume that you also proposing that all US based companies will need to adhere to the rules of doing business in each and every country they get readers from ? Yes

    Does that mean you are you preparing your site to be compliant to all Indian and Chinese business practices ? That is where the future growth of the Internet lies.

    Or the belief that side wide disclosure meets the new FTC rules ! If sticking this disclosure on a page buried somewhere on your 10,000 page website meet the FTC rules so you really think that Internet Marketers would have made such a fuss ? That would be like “big deal” – not “this is the end of Affiliate Marketing” as some industry commentators have called it.

    The law says you must disclose each and every link on each and every post. This misunderstanding in itself is not surprising as its a new rule and many don’t understand it. It is the air of authority that commenters use in their ” I am doing this” that makes me laugh.

    Interestingly no comments from professional Internet Marketers that actually make a living online about the effect of adding the disclosure on resultant sales.

    I suspect as usual the people that really know are keeping their heads down and their cards to their chests with all the noise coming from the peanut gallery, I guess that includes me : )

  10. Hi Darren,

    I put a text widget in the sidebar of my 5 blogs that says:

    I am an internet marketer and there are most likely links in this blog that are affiliate links.

    I make sure the Affiliate Disclosure isn’t buried at the bottom of the sidebar.

  11. Hi Darren,

    Interesting topic. I’m also an Aussie and trying to find my way through the affiliate jungle. From what I can tell and going by what you have written above, a disclosure statement does not apply to non USA folk… is this right?

    I’d like to know exactly what my obligations are, but even if it isn’t necessary I still think it is worth adding some information at least site wide about the type of links people will encounter on your site. If you are reviewing a product and you are given it specifically for that purpose, then I think it lends credibility to tell people this anyway. I would think this would help build trust (and possibly sales), more than hurt in any way.


  12. I have a notice in my sidebar that begins by inviting advertisers to contact me and ends by asking readers to accept a small amount of advertising within my blog as it helps pay for the E How information I provide and that I will keep the advertising it as unobtrusive as posible.~ or words to that effect, I change it around.

  13. I always disclose in the footer of every page on every site. I like to keep it pretty general. Its frustrating not know if its not enough or too much. Wow, Australians get off the hook.

  14. I have to disclose on every post with affiliate links. I think it works better.

  15. I have been disclosing all affiliate links and anything I make money off of. The FTC doesn’t have any money so I know they are watching it closely, but I know that visitors to the site could potentially inform the FTC.

  16. On my blog, I have it notated in my privacy policy, my about page and will usually note it in the actual posts.

    I also have a little site with nothing but affiliate links. My family and friends will take a look there first when shopping online to help me out. On that site, it says it on the main page in the header. I state roughly, “Thanks for helping out. Every time you purchase something after clicking one of my links you help me pay for school. It’s not much, but every little bit helps.”

  17. Being in Canada and the UK I am not affected but I do intend to have a site wide disclosure. When I eventually have a list and get into newsletters then anything I recommend will state that it’s an affiliate link. I know I don’t have to but it’s a bit like driving and only indicating when you turn if there’s other cars on the road. I think it’s a good habit to do it all the time.
    Having said that I think everyone gets that Amazon links & side bar icons are affiliate links otherwise you would not have them there ditto if you post on LinkedIn, FB or Tweet althugh I do like Daniel’s suggestion of putting (aff) after tweets. I shall do that in future.
    I’m wondering why Luke unfollows tweeters who tweet about something that is useful to a lot of people.

  18. I usually write the following under the posts, I find it is actually better promotion of he ads…got the idea from Rob Sutton’s blog…

    “Did you know?

    The below products are links to the official Classical Guitar Canada amazon store? When you buy products from our store you are helping the site. It’s better than a donation! Good deals and quality selections…it’s great for everyone involved! Locations: Canada Store (Link)- US/International Store(Link) “

  19. Hey Darren number 2 LOL good question. Here is my thoughts to it (not that anyone on here is probably paying attention (surprise me I dare you LOL).

    Everyone I have ever recommended from a affiliate standpoint has either been someone I am actually using (i.e. Niche Profit Classroom) or someone I have watched for a considerable period of time (i.e. Yaros blogger program) and trust.

    So I not only disclose the affiliate association i explain why.

    PS I think this disclosure policy is going to be a plus to anyone if they use it with your landing pages correctly honestly speaking (hint hint) :)

  20. I always clarify to my readers when they’re looking at an affiliate link. I have tag links throughout and I will not mislead my readers with ambiguous links. If they want to hit up my affiliates, they know where they’re headed. I more or less picked up that principle from you Darren.

  21. We do disclose affiliate links from a universal privacy policy in our blog network. I am not sure it’s feasible for our business to disclose links one by one. I personally don’t ever recommend a product for its commission. It’s just a waste of my readers’ time. If a product is decent, and I am using it myself, then I would review it. Otherwise, I’ll just pass.

  22. I have a site wide disclosure.

    As you can affiliate with every product you want it should be for everyone very easy to be honest.

    I also place affiliate links in post on products that I do not recommend. If somebody decides to buy the product or service in spite of it why not getting your cut on the sale?

    In my opinion you have to informative and surely not pushy to get a sale. My experience so far is that this works best.

    Recently a friend read some of my posts and said that it wasn’t really clear for him why I recommend product A and not B. He said his only explanation would be that I’m affiliated with product A.

    My answer was quite easy: In a matter of seconds I could be affiliated with product B as well. Thus in this case the commissions shouldn’t be my first thought.
    Product B is 3 times as expensive as product A is. But this shouldn’t be a reason to recommend product B because of a higher commission related to the price.

    Trust is priceless and I don’t recommend anything that I wouldn’t recommend to a friend or would by myself. However, if there is an affiliate opportunity I demand my cut for the work I’ve put in it.

    Again, as you can affiliate with every product you want it should be for everyone very easy to be honest.

  23. Sorry, I don’t know why I hit the submit button before I correct the typos.

  24. I’ve been a student of the John Chow system of Disclosure – awesome disclosure page.


    I have a sitewide disclosure.

  25. I believe in ‘Customer Service’. To me, one of the things that means is disclosures, what ever form that takes.

  26. I personally disclose it in my blog’s privacy policy/disclosure. It’s kind of generic, I just say that “I use affiliate links in my blog”.

    Do you think that is enough?

  27. With URL shorteners predominately used, you can usually tell when an affiliate link is used. However there are tricky tactics used at times and in that, as a reader myself I feel overly offended for not being told and it’s just another reason for me to close the page.

    For a good rule of thumb, it’s always better to let the reader know ahead of time. Think of it as a consumer who is informed of their choices. That way, there won’t be any reason to create tension.

  28. In my experience it is good to disclose my affiliate links in a way that is professional. It makes much more sense to be forthright than to be caught in a mess with the FTC

  29. Darren, hi,

    I disclose my affiliate links very openly: I have a disclosure page, I disclose again at the top of my Useful Resources page and I disclose in each article that contains affiliate links.

    I’ve always disclosed affiliate links in articles because I prefer to be open and transparent – after all, there’s no penalty to a buyer – they pay the same whichever link they click.

    However, I did add the Disclosure page as a result of the FTC ruling last December.



  30. @Cindi, I love the John Chow disclosure statement.

  31. @cindi – Thanks for sharing – just checked out John Chow’s disclosure statement – so funny but…. he’s disclosing so that’s fine, no-one said it couldn’t be tongue in cheek.
    (there are no affiliate links in this blog comment :-)) )

  32. I’m puzzled by your statement that, “As an Australian I’m not directly impacted by the FTC and its regulations” — as well as similar statements by commenters here. If your blog is directed at (in part) a U.S. audience and your affiliate links are with U.S. companies, on what authority do you rely that the FTC’s authority does not apply to you just because you happen to be located outside the U.S.?

  33. I submitted my comment and decided to come back and read what everyone wrote after me. I do use a site-wide disclosure, but I don’t disclose affiliate links on relevant post footers. Should I?

    A part of me thinks the disclosure thing is silly. I don’t care one bit if I buy something through someone’s site and they make some change. My question is, why would anyone care? It’s still the same price. It’s not like the old middle-man issue where he’s jacking up the price and if you went to someone else or to the wholesaler directly, the price would be lower.

    If it’s a review site, and you are talking about how great the product is and why someone should buy it, etc., then sure, I think stating up front that you will receive a commission from the sale of the product is appropriate.

    But for ads in the sidebar or items listed on a resource page, I wonder why it’s so important at that point. It brings to mind the larger issue of a negative mindset – “I don’t want that person to make money off of me.” And to that I would have to say, why? ;-)

    Just my thoughts!

  34. I always have a disclosure at the footer of my YourNetBiz Attraction Marketing Cafe blog; I also specifically disclose affiliate links in my review posts.

    Better safe than sorry!

    Ana Hoffman

  35. Hi guys,

    I do not disclose affiliate links.

    Kind regards,


  36. I’ve been putting sitewide disclosures on my blogs and a short disclosure at the end of autoresponder emails. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a good policy that keeps one on the right side of the new guidelines.

    As is typical of goverment regulations, it goes a bit overboard, but the intent is clear enough. If people have a problem with a link being an affiliate link, so be it. There’s always going to be a certain percentage who do and they’d be the ones to squawk loudest if a link turned out to be an affiliate link that they weren’t aware of. At least disclosing it will cause them to run screaming the other way instead of to the Feds. :-)

  37. I definitely think you should disclose your affiliate links. It’s the right thing to do. Your readers will respect you for it

  38. On further thought about this subject, I realise I also have mentioned about the two ad companies I use in my media kit page. So yes, I guess I do disclose:D

  39. As of this year, I always disclose affiliate links to Amazon and OpenSky in both my policy page and at at the bottom of my posts.

    However, as of March 8, 2010 Amazon fired all of their Colorado based affiliates due to new laws here in the state. I’m still using affiliate code because I do want readers to find the book online and it’s easier to use the affiliate code rather than type out the book title and then hyperlink it. (I’m also secretly hoping that Amazon will change their mind.)

    But now I feel a need to disclose that even though it’s affiliate code I’m not getting paid any more! (I did make that change on my policy page so I didn’t have to go in and change code and disclosures on multiple posts.

    Needless to say, it’s a pain.

  40. What I still don’t understand is why people get so bent out of shape about people making money thru affiliate promos. When I buy something online I always look for the affiliate link as a way of thanking the recommender for their efforts. If I’m on the phone and the person tells me about some new tool I decide to buy, I’ll ask if they have an affiliate link. Why don’t more people think like that?

  41. I love tongue-in-cheek site wide disclosure policies. Nothing like a good laugh.

    I agree that most people do know that sites earn money via affiliate links but putting a cute Buy from Me on the post couldn’t hurt as there are new people coming to the web everyday.

  42. I DO disclose affiliate links, because I think that is just good courtesy. Also I don’t go promoting everything under the sun simply because it pays well. Rather, do I have experience with the product and does it work for me? It’s like real life product recommendations, it should not be any different.

    I think many do not follow such principles though. The lure of money is too strong.

  43. I have a state wide disclosure page and created it based on one of your previous posts here actually!

    It clearly states that some posts have affiliate and/or paid links in them. I also have a small siggy that states for questions about something found within my post to visit my disclosure policy page. I use affiliate links in nearly every post so for me to disclose every single time is a waste, when most of us use affiliate links even when not talking about a specific product. I figure state wide clearly stating my relationship with various companies is sufficient.

  44. I’ve never really disclosed affiliate links before, but I only use amazon. I guess maybe it’s time I be more open with that.

  45. After reading all this commands I decided to totally change my Disclosure Statement on my TOS-page. The fun part of it is stumbled and brought some new readers.
    I think I can’t be more open than that and I don’t apologize for earning money.

  46. Getting down with the Third Tribe philosophy here, I see no reason why you should mask affiliate links.

    If you’re ethical, offering a service you believe in, that you know your audience (in the main) will enjoy, then it goes without saying that the transparency in delivery needs to run through to the advert itself – your affiliate link.

    Many will click, straight out. Some will copy and paste the link; of those, the majority without hesitation will open that link in a new tab or window. The others may either forget to click altogether, due to the goldfish-like attention span of every webster; to strip out your link or to add theirs (obviously this can be done if they have zero integrity and community grace).

    If you demonstrate remarkable openness, and have your community’s interests at heart, you shouldn’t concern yourself with cloaking. It’s all about being yourself, right? Why should your affiliate links be any different?

  47. Jewel says: 03/24/2010 at 9:39 pm

    I have a disclaimer at the bottom of my page. I think that is all that is needed. I don’t see many (if any) popular news sites disclosing affiliate links. I just read an article the other day on a popular news website and in the article they promoted a book. I didn’t see a disclaimer saying “if you click on this link we will make money from you.”

    If they don’t have to disclose it, why should I?

    Like someone else said, salesmen don’t need to disclose it. It’s not like an insurance agent would call you and go into his script about insurance and then say “Oh by the way, if you get an insurance policy from me I will make money.”.If the agent did that, people probably wouldn’t buy the policy.

    Of course we all know that insurance salesmen make money off of a sale, but it isn’t something that is discussed, because everyone knows it is their job.

  48. Very good point Jewel.

    I have been wondering when all the big news or other high profile sites would start putting disclaimers/disclosures all over the place.

  49. I have not put up disclaimers yet, but I might soon. I have noticed that some of the blogs that I bookmark have the disclaimer on the bottom of their pages.

  50. This is a very good point in your article, I have heard the FTC officials interview and he no where mentions that every link should have disclosure but as long as you mention one disclosure per site that would cover up may be.

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