Most everyone who has a blog wants to know how to make money by blogging-I am included in that group. And there are numerous articles on how to make money by blogging, including increasing your traffic by paying attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in your titles and content, selling products, doing reviews, installing Google Adsense, etc. This article is not going to cover all of the ways that you can monetize your blog. Instead, this article will cover how to make money from your blog legally by making sure you are following the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines when it comes to blogging.
On October 5, 2009, the FTC made the first changes to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising since 1980. These guidelines affect bloggers like you and I, and so it's important to understand them. In summary, these guidelines state the following:
- Material connections (whether receiving cash or free products) between advertisers and endorsers (you the blogger) must be fully disclosed
- A paid endorsement is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims
- General opinions on products and services published are fine, but if a blogger makes claims that are not actually true, then the blogger can also be liable. In other words, claims must be verifiable by the company/service.
What this Means for Bloggers
These rules apply on blogs, facebook, twitter, infobarrel, and basically anywhere else you as a blogger are making money. So how do you cover yourself?
The first step should be to include information on your "About", "Contact", or "Advertise Here" pages stating that you are compliant with FTC disclosure guidelines. This will help to validate your blog, as well as to let advertisers know that you will not work with them if they ask you to not follow FTC guidelines (I have had several advertisers specifically ask me not to tell my readers that this is a sponsored post, which is illegal).
If you are being paid by an advertiser, or receive free products to review, make sure you include a statement somewhere in the article that you have received payment or a free product. This can be at the top of the article, the bottom, or in the article. Furthermore, you may want to add an overall disclosure policy to a page on your blog, or to your footer. DisclosurePolicy.org helps you to personalize a disclosure statement for your blog by giving you specific questions to answer about the content of your blog, the nature of how you make money, etc. (see my personal disclosure policy generated for me below)
"This policy is valid from 30 October 2010
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.
This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.
The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.
This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest."