Sep 09, 2022
What Is an Affiliate Disclosure and How to Write It
When joining an affiliate marketing program, you must write a disclosure explaining what it is and what it entails. Not displaying an affiliate disclosure is a fatal affiliate marketing mistake as it is a legal liability.
An affiliate disclosure is a statement explaining your affiliate relationship with a company. It must clearly say that the company compensates you for promoting or reviewing its products or services.
The disclosure must also inform readers when a specific blog post contains an affiliate link. It is a unique URL assigned to a particular affiliate partner that leads to the product page.
An affiliate disclosure is essential to make affiliate marketing practices transparent. This way, customers can identify and avoid misleading or dishonest advertising.
What Is an Affiliate Disclosure?
An affiliate disclosure is a statement explaining your affiliate relationship. Also known as an affiliate link disclosure, this disclaimer informs readers that a company pays you for linking their product or service. Affiliate link disclosures make affiliate programs transparent, allowing customers to identify paid-promoted products and make informed decisions. Endorsements without affiliate disclosures are against the law and are legal liabilities.
All promotional content must include affiliate link disclosures according to law. This condition applies to all advertising media, including:
- Website and blog posts
- Social media posts
In this article, we will explain the affiliate disclosure’s importance. You will also learn how to write a proper disclosure and where to place it on your website. Finally, we will provide affiliate disclosure examples and answer some commonly asked questions about it.
Why is an Affiliate Disclosure Important?
Before purchasing a product or service, customers usually look for reviews or suggestions. Some product reviews are paid for by the company, while others are not. Readers must be able to distinguish between a paid and unpaid endorsement to make better purchasing decisions.
Affiliate disclosures let customers understand affiliate relationships and identify paid endorsements. It ensures non-misleading, transparent, and honest endorsements.
For consumer protection, the US government agency Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates all promotional posts to include affiliate link disclosures. Although it is a US law, it may apply to websites outside the US.
Generally, website owners and social media influencers who are affiliate partners must comply with FTC guidelines. Especially if you join a US company’s affiliate program or your website is accessible to US consumers.
Important! We recommend always including a disclosure statement even if your country doesn’t have affiliate regulations. Seek professional legal advice if you are unsure about your country’s affiliate law.
Some companies oblige their affiliate marketers to write disclosures. For instance, users adding Amazon affiliate links must follow the Amazon Associates Program Agreement.
Every website part of Amazon’s affiliate marketing program must display disclosures according to the company’s rules. Amazon affiliates must also explicitly identify themselves as part of its Associates program and explain that they get commissions from qualifying purchases.
Other programs may have different affiliate disclosure requirements.
Aside from being a legal requirement, including an affiliate link disclosure means being open to your audience. It helps increase visitors’ trust, which ultimately benefits your website.
How to Write an Affiliate Disclosure
Having understood the importance of affiliate disclosures, you can now learn how to write one.
The content of an affiliate link disclosure may vary depending on the website. However, they should at least disclose two essential pieces of information.
One, affiliate disclosures must identify affiliate links or promoted content in blog posts. And two, they must disclose how affiliate relationships work, mainly how affiliate partners receive compensation for promoting products or services.
You may add more detailed, relevant information about the affiliate program to make your statement clearer.
Here are three tips to consider when writing an affiliate disclosure:
Use Clear and Conspicuous Language
A disclosure statement must use clear and direct language. Your website visitors should be able to understand it after reading it once.
To clearly deliver the disclosure’s message, avoid using redundant phrases or words. Instead, immediately get to the point by mentioning compensation as early as possible.
Also, avoid using abbreviations, vague terms, or jargon like “affiliate marketing” or “affiliate link” unless necessary. Unfamiliar terms make the disclosure’s message unclear and difficult to understand.
Prioritize familiar words most visitors would know, such as “sponsored,” “ promoted,” or “endorsement.” If you have to use uncommon terms, provide explanations to help visitors understand.
Keep It Short
The length of affiliate disclosures may vary depending on the information they contain and where you place them. However, it is important to write them to be as short as possible.
An ideal disclosure usually consists of one or two short sentences explaining the key points of the affiliate program. It can simply state that your post contains an affiliate link, and you receive payment when readers use it to buy a product.
If you create a separate page for a full disclosure statement, avoid too many paragraphs and overly lengthy sentences. Write up to five paragraphs, with each sentence having no more than 20 words.
For better readability, separate long sentences into multiple shorter ones. Short sentences are easier to understand and ideal for conveying complex or unfamiliar information.
Make It Personal
Despite being a legal disclaimer, an affiliate disclosure doesn’t have to be formal or follow a particular template. You can customize your affiliate disclosure as long as it fulfills its purpose and doesn’t violate any rules.
You may write your affiliate disclosure with more casual language. This allows you to customize your disclosure to match your site’s style and tone.
For instance, use second-person or first-person pronouns to make your affiliate links disclaimer more personal. Consider writing your disclosure as if you are talking directly to your audience.
Using everyday conversational language may increase visitor engagement. It also helps them understand the disclaimer better.
Personalizing an affiliate disclosure also gives you the freedom to include additional information. For example, you may add information specific to your website and its affiliate activities.
Don’t assume your site visitors know what affiliate link marketing is. Avoid only mentioning that your website contains affiliate links without elaborating. You must clearly state that companies compensate you for linking their products or services.
Since many companies offer affiliate programs, your affiliate link disclaimer should specify the featured company and its reward system.
Briefly explain how and when you get compensated. For instance, write that you get commissions every time a visitor buys a product using one of the affiliate links.
FTC affiliate disclosure guidelines also require you to specify the benefits you receive from companies. Therefore, explicitly mention what they are – be it money or free products. Alternatively, use an umbrella term like “compensation” which covers all benefit types.
Lastly, inform visitors that affiliate links don’t charge them extra costs. This will entice them to purchase using the links, generating more income for your site.
Where to Place an Affiliate Disclosure?
According to FTC guidelines, affiliate link disclosures should stand out. You must place these required disclosures where visitors can easily spot and read them. Ideally, they should be easily noticeable yet not distracting.
Consider the following tips on where to place an affiliate disclosure statement.
Use in Multiple Places
Place affiliate disclosures in multiple places so visitors can see them no matter where they land on the website.
Websites usually place an affiliate disclosure in a fixed area. This allows visitors to notice the disclaimer even if they continue scrolling. The common areas include:
Additionally, write a separate disclosure page and place the page’s link throughout your website. If you don’t have a dedicated affiliate disclosure page, include it in the following pages:
- Privacy and policy
- Terms and conditions
If possible, your hyperlinks should link to the disclaimer section instead of the page.
Important! When linking to an affiliate disclosure page, don’t place the hyperlinks without explanation. Write a short disclaimer and include the link at the end.
FTC requires the affiliate disclaimer to be displayed on multiple pages. Add it to all pages containing affiliate links, sponsorships, and service or product endorsements.
For WordPress websites, use a plugin to place disclosures on multiple pages. For example, the FMTC Affiliate Disclosure WordPress plugin automatically puts an FTC-compliant disclaimer at the beginning of all sponsored content.
Make It Visible
Avoid putting an affiliate disclosure solely in the footer or at the end of a blog post. Most website visitors don’t scroll to the bottom of a page, making the notice easier to miss.
Place an affiliate disclosure on top of your website for better visibility. Include it in the header or at the beginning of a promotional blog post.
FTC guidelines state that an affiliate disclosure should be as close to the affiliate links or content as possible. Ideally, the notice should precede the links or content.
Moreover, you should check if your affiliate disclaimer is visible on mobile devices. Avoid solely placing the notice on areas like the sidebar, which is usually hidden on mobile view.
Write the affiliate disclosure using an easy-to-read and appropriately sized font. You may also italicize or bold the statement to make it more noticeable. Finally, make sure that the text color contrasts the website’s background.
Avoid Distracting Elements
Another FTC requirement is for websites to avoid extra graphics, links, and buttons. These elements may contribute no value, distracting visitors from reading the statement.
Unnecessary links or buttons may encourage visitors to click away before reading the disclaimer. Also, avoid placing elements on top of the statement, making it unreadable.
If you have to include extra elements on a post, put the disclosure as early as possible. This way, visitors will see the notice first before the other elements.
Affiliate Link Disclosure Examples
In this section, we will list five affiliate disclosure examples. You will learn what makes these disclosures good and apply the knowledge to your own.
1. Cookie and Kate
Cookie and Kate’s affiliate disclosure is an example of an effective and comprehensive statement. The cooking website has a dedicated page explaining its affiliate marketing practices in detail.
Although it’s a longer disclosure text, the sentences are short and readable. It immediately gets to the point by mentioning affiliate links and compensation in the first paragraph.
The website also includes additional information about the affiliate programs it’s a part of. It explicitly names the affiliated companies and shows what the affiliate links look like.
This website also places a simple indication next to the affiliate links. This strategy keeps the disclaimer close to the links, making it easily noticeable.
2. The Shop Files
The Shop Files’ website demonstrates how to write and place short affiliate disclosures properly.
Its affiliate link disclosure begins with a ‘heads up.’ This phrase grabs visitors’ attention and entices them to read the subsequent sentence.
This three-sentence-long disclosure goes straight to the point by mentioning the affiliate links immediately. In addition, the bolded text and placement on the top of the page make it easily noticeable.
3. Brilliant Affiliate
As Brilliant Affiliate shows, affiliate link disclosures don’t have to be formal. Its affiliate disclosure uses first-person and second-person pronouns to make it more personalized.
The website owner wrote the disclosure statement using casual language and an emoji. This writing style reflects the website’s relaxed personality and helps keep visitors engaged.
It also helps readers understand the notice better. Despite being short and casual, this disclosure delivers the message well.
4. Territory Supply
Territory Supply places its affiliate disclosure well. It puts the notice on multiple areas – the website’s footer and at the beginning of every promoted post.
It keeps the disclaimer short and includes a link to the Editorial & Disclosure Policy page. The page explains the company’s affiliate marketing practices and describes itself as a member of the Amazon Associates program.
5. Joybilee Farm
Affiliate disclosure statements can be concise and effective. An excellent example is Joybilee Farm’s affiliate disclosure statement.
The website’s disclosure statement is 19 words long. It only contains essential information, allowing visitors to understand the message quickly.
The statement starts by disclosing that affiliate links are present in the post. Then, it briefly explains that by using those links to buy an item, the website will receive compensation.
Affiliate disclosure is a statement on your site explaining that you may get compensation when a visitor purchases a product or service using an affiliate link.
This disclosure is mandatory by law to make online marketing transparent and protect consumers from unethical business practices.
To make your affiliate disclosure visible and easy to understand, make sure to:
- Use clear and conspicuous language
- Keep it short
- Make it personal
- Explain clearly
- Use it in multiple places
- Make it visible
- Avoid distracting elements
We hope this article has helped you understand affiliate disclosure. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
Affiliate Disclosure FAQ
This section will answer some commonly asked questions about affiliate disclosure.
What Does FTC Mean?
FTC stands for Federal Trade Commission. It is a US governmental agency whose mission is to protect customers from fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices. It also helps customers spot and avoid scams.
FTC disclosure guidelines for affiliate marketing practices ensure that endorsements are transparent, honest, and non-misleading.
Is It Illegal to Not Disclose an Affiliate Link?
Yes. Some countries, including the US, UK, and Canada, require website owners to disclose their affiliate links. If an affiliate marketer doesn’t comply with the law, they may risk facing a penalty.