Save your affiliate marketing business from catastrophe!

If you can’t afford your affiliate blog or social media campaigns to be shut down, you’d better check these rules!

The FTC are not playing

If your blog does business in the US, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) could be checking to see if you are following their rules. They have specific guidelines just for affiliate marketers.

But according to,  only 1 in 10 know that they should tag their posts as “Sponsored” or “Ad” if it contains affiliate links. So, should you panic about this? Or do something positive about it?

The easiest way to avoid problems is to be upfront and honest about what you’re doing, and why. Start with putting up a notice on your posts with affiliate links.

How to label your affiliate linked posts

The FTC do not give a standard, prescribed method of marking up your posts, but they do offer strong hints in their guidelines. Your notice should be:

  • Readable – white text on a white background is not going to count, and neither is a 4-pixel high font!
  • Understandable – don’t use wording that obscures what you mean, or try to deceive anyone
  • Close to the content it refers to, and prominent – don’t try tucking it away in a corner

So try a small piece of text like “Sponsored post” or even “Advertising Feature” in your content, for example, just after the “Read More” tag of a blog post, and before you get to the affiliate links. If you want to go deeper, try: “I write blogs, and some contain affiliate links, like this one. Read more about why I do it and how it works here.”

A little TMI (Too Much Information)? I’m going to tell you a little further down why this might not be the case…

Payday or Mayday?

When it comes to the payday loan industry, it’s even more important to be transparent in what you’re promoting. If you promote a bunch of cowboys, you might be tarred and feathered alongside them! Check out what they’re offering and try to make sure they’re as transparent as you are. The thought that you might be held accountable is scary, but all you can do is your due diligence. After all, the payday loan industry is lucrative. It’s a risk versus reward thing.

The FTC claims it’s not coming after bloggers, but since there has been a lot of heat on payday loan companies, better safe than sorry! After all, if they get a complaint, they can pass it on to law enforcement.

The human touch

You might get the impression that people are going to be turned off by notices about “Ads” or “Sponsored posts”, but to be honest, most people are fairly familiar with the format of this now, and the amount that are turned off is still probably less than the FTC fallout would cost you!

Everybody needs to make a living, and you’re no exception. People have a lot of sympathy for someone who explains their story – it humanizes them. And human connection creates trust, and trust creates prospects for a sale. That’s why a longer notice with more personal touch, like the one I showed you above, might work wonders for you.

Look, you should get legal help if you can’t risk getting these things wrong (and you should not use this post as legal advice!) But it’s not the end of the world to put a few hours into finding out how to protect yourself and protect your affiliate marketing business.

P.S. YouTube and other social posting rules

Each provider will have their own rules about placing endorsements or affiliate links into your content. You may decide you want to talk about how great product X is for customers to your 100K YouTube followers. But if you get any kickback for saying that, you must declare it. This is not just the FTC’s rules, but the platform’s.

What are you waiting for?

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