Affiliate Marketing: What You Need to Know About Disclosing Affiliate Links

Did you know that you can put your entire business at risk if you don’t have proper affiliate disclosures posted whenever you’re using affiliate links? If you didn’t, then you’re definitely going to want to continue reading this article!

As you read through this article, you’ll learn why it’s important to have an affiliate disclosure, what could happen if you do not properly disclose your affiliate links, and more. 

With that said, let’s get started!

What Is an Affiliate Disclosure?

In simple terms, an affiliate disclosure is a statement you make to inform your readers that you have a relationship with a business entity where you earn some form of compensation for potential leads (learn more about FTC disclosures for affiliate marketing and more here)

Forms of compensation can be any one or combination of the following:

  • Monetary payment
  • Sample products
  • Store credit
  • Gifts from business
  • Discounts on the business’ product or services
  • Free items for a giveaway
  • Gift cards
  • … and other sort of “favor”

As an example, AmznHawk currently has an affiliate program where if someone signs up for a subscription, you will earn 35% of the first year’s subscription. So, if someone signs up for the basic $24/month plan, you’ll earn $8.40 per month for a year, totaling $100.80. 

If you create a blog post that describes your experience using our program and how it has helped you manage your affiliate links, you can use your affiliate link in case any of your readers would like to try the program for themselves.

However, you can’t just post the link and let that be that. You have to tell your readers that you’re affiliated with AmznHawk and you’ll receive compensation for your referrals. By informing your readers that you’re receiving compensation, they’ll be able to determine how credible your endorsement will be. 

If you post affiliate links without disclosing that you’re being compensated, you’re taking advantage of your reader’s trust and deceiving them. Should your readers discover that you were compensated for your glowing recommendations, not only will your readers question the validity of your recommendations, you run the risk of losing their trust, thus jeopardizing your business.

Amazon Associates Disclaimer Requirements

With some affiliate programs, you can simply state a simple disclaimer on your site stating you are an affiliate and earn some kind of compensation for your thoughts and reviews of a product. An example of a simple disclosure can look like this: 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure page for more details.

As an Amazon Associate, you have certain rules you will have to follow to stay compliant with the Amazon Associates Terms of Service. Since Amazon is a consumer-focused business, they require associates to be 100% transparent with their readers. This means that you need to inform your readers that: 

  • You’re a member of the Amazon Associate Program
  • You’re compensated for purchases made via your affiliate link
  • You’re not to embellish the relationship between you, your business, and Amazon

To clarify the last bullet point, in section 5 of Amazon’s Terms of Service, it states: 

5. Identifying Yourself as an Associate

You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

What this means is that you cannot use language that makes it appear that you have a special agreement with Amazon. You cannot use the Amazon name to boost your endeavors (ex: “Amazon is sponsoring this charity fundraiser”) outside of the affiliate program. This is stated in this part of the TOS:

“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.”

Amazon actually has a specific statement that all Amazon Associates must post on your site, which is found in section 10 of the TOS. The following is the required statement: 

[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com or myhabit.com)].”

If you fail to properly disclose that you’re a member of the Amazon Associates program, your account may be revoked and you will receive the following email (or something like it):

“Dear Associate,

While reviewing your account, we have noticed that your website contains links to Amazon that are not properly labeled, which makes it unclear that you are sending customers to the Amazon website.

The Associates Program Operating Agreement that governs your participation in the Associates Program requires that links to an Amazon Site must not be confusing or misleading, and must be clear that they link to an Amazon Site. For more information, please review the Participation Requirements and Linking Requirements found here:

http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/help/operating/participation

https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/help/operating/linking

We insist that you cease this activity and remove all Amazon content from your site(s) immediately. Moreover, because you are using the Associates Program in violation of the Associates Program Operating Agreement, your account has been closed and you will not receive further payment. Any other accounts you may have or may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement may be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification.

Best regards,

http://www.amazon.com

Best Places to Put Your Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

There are a few different places you can disclose your affiliate with Amazon. Like our previous example, you can have a small blurb on  each of your blog posts that says your site uses affiliate links and can direct readers to click on the link for your disclosure page for more information. 

You can have your disclosure posted on your sidebar so that you don’t have to post a disclosure on every blog post. 

You can also disclose that a link is an affiliate link like this: 

The asterisk(s) will let readers know there is information about the link at the bottom of the page. That information will inform them that said link is an affiliate link(s).

Some sites will even have a pop-up that appears when someone first goes to your site and it will state that your site uses affiliate links and you’re part of the Amazon Affiliate program.

Best Practices to Optimize Affiliate Disclosures

Posting a simple disclosure on your blog posts are simple enough, but there are a few ways you can optimize their use so that they are Amazon compliant, but as well as FTC-compliant. Let’s take a look at those now.

1. Make Sure Your Affiliate Disclosures Are in an Obvious Spot

Although “obvious” may be a subjective term, it’s a good practice to have the disclosure in an easy-to-see spot that is openly displayed for readers to see. This can be at the top or bottom of your blog posts, in the sidebar or next to the link. 

By making your disclosures easy to see, your readers will see that you’re honest about your affiliation and that you receive compensation. If your disclosures are on another page which is only accessible by an obscure link or at the footer of your page, your readers may start to think you’re trying to be sneaky and… Well, that’s not looked highly upon, either by your readers, by Amazon, and the FTC.

2. When in Doubt, Always Disclose Compensation

As your business grows, you might wonder if you should post a disclosure or not – even if you aren’t using an affiliate link. Here are a few examples of instances where someone may not be certain whether or not they should disclose an affiliation:

Maybe you review clothing on Amazon and another company reaches out to you offering to send you clothing in exchange for a review. You would have to disclose this. 

Maybe you review video games and use affiliate links for the games you review. Should someone reach out to you and sends you to the next E3 convention, if you make a post raving about your experience, you still need to disclose that the trip was paid for by a 3rd party. 

Maybe you’re a beauty blogger and a salon offers a free hair treatment in exchange for a blurb on your blog, you need to disclose that. 

Remember, if you’re not sure if something should be disclosed, disclose it anyway. Even if you posted it the disclosure on another page, do it again. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

3. Be Clear and Concise

Unlike legal contracts that uses language that you need a lawyer to understand, your disclosures should be clear and concise. Use language that your everyday Joe can understand. The Amazon Associate Disclosure Statement is the perfect example of that. 

Affiliate Disclosures: The Final Take Away

Being part of an affiliate program is a great way to earn passive income, there’s no doubt about that. As your business and audience grows, your potential income from your affiliate partnerships can net you a pretty sizable profit!

However, this isn’t going to happen over night. It takes a lot of hard work to get your Amazon Affiliate site off the ground, let alone have a positive reputation among your audience; much of your reputation is based on disclosing to your readers that you’re earning some form of compensation. Not to mention you don’t want your affiliate account to be revoked because you failed to be 100% transparent with your audience. 

Our number recommendation is if you’re affiliated with business and receive compensation, disclose, disclose, disclose! 

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