Which Affiliate Disclosures Does Your Blog Need, and Where?

You’ve probably heard that you need to put an affiliate disclosure on your blog if you have affiliate links. This article will tell you where to put it and what it should say. And also explain the difference between an Amazon disclosure and the US’s Federal Trade Commission disclosure.

While this isn’t the simplest topic in the world, it’s not as complex as privacy law compliance. So there’s that, I guess. Let’s get started!

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First, a disclosure of my own. I’m not a lawyer. I’ll link you to all the pages that helped me reach the conclusions I’ve reached about how to do this, and encourage you to do your own research.

I can’t guarantee my answers are correct, but from what I’ve read, no one can. With rules like these, you only find out what wasn’t in compliance as people get fined or banned from programs.

What’s an Affiliate Disclosure?

Affiliate disclosures are statements that tell readers you are making money from a particular product or service you’ve linked. This lets them decide whether your claims about that product or service are honest or whether you’d say anything to get an affiliate commission.

While I don’t always love how we’re required to disclose, I do like disclosing and was doing it my own way before I was aware of anyone requiring it. Disclosures maintain transparency and build trust with your audience.

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Why It’s Confusing

If you’ve looked at FTC pages and Amazon instructions and ended up scratching your head, you’re not alone. Amazon especially likes to keep their compliance instructions vague.

The FTC has in recent years come closer to telling us exactly what to do and how to do it. They want to encourage compliance, so they’re being straightforward.

Why Amazon prefers to be cagey is anybody’s guess. Corporate lawyers tend to advise companies to keep the rules vague, so that companies can be flexible about interpreting the rules later. Amazon has already admitted they don’t apply the rules the same to everybody. Go hunt for the Amazon disclosure on any page of TheSpruce, and if you find it, drop it in comments, please!

What Disclosures Do You Need?

Let’s take a look at the difference between various disclosures and why you need them. If your blog is in English and gets any US traffic, it would be wise to include the FTC disclosure.

And more and more affiliate programs are requiring affiliates to do this, in the fine print. This means you could be kicked out of their programs if you don’t comply.

Amazon affiliates need an additional disclosure. They are the only affiliate program I work with that requires this, but I don’t believe they’re the only one. I’m not going to try to list them all here because there are just too many of them.

Amazon Disclosure

Screenshot of Amazon's Operating Agreement section on Identifying Yourself as an Associate

If you’re an Amazon affiliate, you are contractually required to put this statement somewhere on your website, according to the Operating Agreement. This has nothing to do with the FTC disclosure, which we’ll get to next.

If you don’t put this on your site, Amazon might kick you out of the affiliate program. There’s no legal issue, like there can be if you don’t include an FTC disclosure. This only applies to your relationship with Amazon, and if you don’t have one, you can skip on ahead to the next subheading.

This is the statement.

 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Seems clear at first glance. But are you allowed to say “we” instead of “I”? Or use your sitename or company name instead of “I”? Who knows? This is what I meant about Amazon keeping things unclear.

And where are you supposed to put it? The footer of every page? The sidebar? Above every post with Amazon affiliate links? Again, who knows? Amazon won’t say.

This page says it should be “clear and conspicuous” – but guess what? That page isn’t referring to the Amazon disclosure. It’s talking about the FTC disclosure. Which Amazon also wants you to include on your site! Confused yet?

Where to Put Amazon Disclosures

So where do you put the Amazon disclosure? People who have asked Amazon for help have been told it can appear on just one page buried somewhere in the website, but also that this one page should link to every page that has Amazon links. Huh?

Most of us put it in the footer or sidebar, where it’s down and out of the way of visitors, but present and visible. I believe this is in compliance. I also change the “I” to a sitename because I don’t blog in first person.

Beyond that, if you care about keeping your Amazon associate account, the most important thing to note may be what comes after that statement:

Except for this disclosure, and other than as required by applicable law, you will not make any public communication with respect to this Agreement or your participation in the Associates Program without our advance written permission. You will not misrepresent or embellish our relationship with you (including by expressing or implying that we support, sponsor, or endorse you), or express or imply any affiliation between us and you or any other person or entity except as expressly permitted by this Agreement.

Don’t say anything more, like how your site is supported by these links and that allows you to keep it free for readers. This could be read as saying Amazon endorses you, and they don’t want that.

FTC Disclosure

If you get traffic from the US, you could technically be fined for not disclosing your affiliate and sponsored posts. Fortunately, they give pretty clear instructions now.

This page explains that:

  • You can’t just link to “disclosure.” It must be explained on the page.
  • It should be explained before the links, and as close to them as possible.
  • The statement can simply be “I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.”
  • It should be clear and conspicuous.

Don’t make it a tiny font in light gray on white. It needs to be “conspicuous.” Mine are black on white, 80% the size of my body font, and italic to add a little more emphasis. I believe this is in compliance.

Where to Put FTC Disclosures

So where do you need to put that statement, exactly?

Product Display Boxes

If you only include affiliate links inside product display boxes, then you can put the disclosures in those blocks next to every link. That would be the most perfect compliance.

But if you use text links, as I do, putting the disclaimer ahead of each text link would be more confusing than disclosing for readers. So I put mine above the article.

Above the Article

Screenshot of affiliate disclosure above title on BlogALiving website

I put the statement above the content on any page that contains affiliate links. Above or below the title, not too far from the content, using the hooks from my theme, GeneratePress.

You can also use plugins to display the disclosure statement above your article.

In Content, Above the First Affiliate Link

Another option is to put it inside your content, above the first affiliate link. I don’t do this because it can cause the disclosure to show up as a meta description in search engines.

But you can make a repeatable block and insert it manually into every post that needs it. Just remember to put it before the first link. If you have links in the first paragraph, it would need to go above it, at the very top.

Some people like a format like: opening paragraph, featured image, affiliate disclosure in a nice-looking box.

Why Are Affiliate Programs Requiring the FTC Disclosure?

As I mentioned above, Amazon includes instructions for affiliates to include the FTC disclosure… but without

It’s not just the FTC that wants you to put their disclosure on sites. Affiliate programs are starting to push for this, too. They didn’t seem too worried about this until the FTC sued Amazon.

My guess is that, seeing that regulators aren’t playing around, companies want to show the FTC they’re making every effort to comply with its regulations. And that includes making its affiliates comply, too.

It’s kind of like Amazon’s tax pages reminding you that you are responsible for paying your taxes on that income.

Side note: as far as I can tell, the FTC suit has nothing to do with the Associates program. It just shows that the FTC is serious about its regulations, and disclosures are one of them.

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Last Updated:

July 8, 2024

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