When it comes to the world of affiliate marketing, transparency is key to success. And it goes both ways – whether you’re creating your own content or sharing content from others. If your readers know upfront that you’re being compensated for anything that you recommend or endorse, that transparency builds trust, and thus, they will be more likely to take action on whatever it is that you are promoting.

It’s all about building a strong relationship between you and your customers.

On the other hand, if you don’t disclose affiliate links properly, then your readers may not trust what you say or may even accuse you of hiding something from them.

Why Do We Have to Disclose Affiliate Links?

Many bloggers use affiliate links on their blog posts in order to earn some money from their audience. However, many websites have strict regulations on disclosing affiliate links. Because the blogger or writer receives commission  when someone engages with their content, an affiliate link may not be 100% unbiased.

In a perfect world, this would be the case. But because of this, it’s important for consumers to know that bloggers aren’t always going to tell them about affiliate links and provide disclaimers about them unless they’re required by law or by their employer.

What Happens When You Don’t Disclose Your Links?

Well first, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires it. The FTC puts regulations in place for consumer protection as they interact with businesses and brands. Part of these regulations are affiliate link disclosure mandates. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Affiliates need to clearly state the relationship with any brand, retailer, or company on their website, or on the piece of content promoting the product or service.
  • These disclosures should be near the mention of the product or service.
  • The disclosure should be easy to understand and clear.

And what happens when an affiliate leaves out this disclosure? Any failure to disclose an affiliate link can result in the brand and its affiliates facing liabilities, which typically come in the form of fines and other penalties. And not to mention the damage to your brand reputation that would unfold should these penalties be severe.

How to Disclose Affiliate Links Properly

Leave No Room For Doubt

The last thing you want is for your readers to have questions about your affiliations. Being up front with what’s going on, and then disclosing at the bottom of a post (or wherever the product/brand is mentioned), is the best way to do this. This type of disclosure won’t confuse or alienate readers and will make them trust you more as an authoritative voice. Even if your post or article places the slightest bit of doubt in the mind of your reader or potential customer, it’s less likely that they will trust the content they are reading. Because of this, clarity (as we’ll see later on) and honesty are the two pillars of quality affiliate marketing.

The Clearer, The Better

When writing an affiliate link into a blog post or site, do your best to make it as clear as possible. Using convoluted or vague language only confuses your readers or potential customers — making them less likely to build loyalty or trust with your brand. What should you make sure you include in order to guarantee absolute clarity?

  • Disclose any payment or gifts (free products/services) received.
  • Explain why you’ve chosen this brand partnership.
  • The name of the affiliate program.

Prioritize Visibility

So not only are the words you use to disclose your affiliate relationship are essential, but so is the placement. It is easy for readers to miss important information about affiliate links if they aren’t disclosed in a place that they would naturally read or see. If you are promoting products in an article, make sure the disclosure is either close to the product or right at the top of the page. For social media? The disclosure shouldn’t be buried somewhere in the middle of your caption. Make it clear either at the beginning or end (with any necessary hashtags or tags).

Frequency Is The Name of the Game

We know we always say less is more, but this isn’t the case when it comes to affiliate marketing. Well, at least not with your disclosures. Sometimes one disclosure is enough for readers to understand that this content was born out of a paid partnership, but it doesn’t hurt to disclose it more than once. It can be safe practice to include disclosures both at the beginning of the article or post and when the specific product/service is being discussed.

Always Provide Value

One of the trickier elements of affiliate marketing is creating authentic content, while still doing your due diligence to the partnership. One way to ensure you’re always pushing out genuine and original pieces is to always bring forth value for your reader. Always provide your audience with something other than just an affiliate link and a call-to-action. Bring something valuable to the table — something they wouldn’t have gotten if they hadn’t clicked on your content.

Disclosing Links on Social Media

First, it’s mandatory to disclose any and all affiliate relationships on social media. With the rise of influencer marketing, platforms started cracking down on what people have to include in their sponsored posts in order to maintain a certain level of transparency with users.

And because of this, we have specific tactics and best practices for disclosing partnerships on social. Here, we breakdown common places to disclose an affiliate relationship on Instagram and Facebook.

Where to Disclose on Instagram:

  • Your Instagram bio
  • In a story
  • In an IGTV
  • In captions with the appropriate hashtags 

Where to Disclose on Facebook:

  • In a headline or illustration/graphic
  • In your caption with appropriate hashtags

And as we can see, hashtags are a popular, and effective, way to clearly communicate to your audience that this particular post or article is sponsored in some way. But not all hashtags are created equal. So, let’s take a look at some clear hashtags, and some that leave a little too much room for interpretation.

Clear Hashtags

#ad #sponsored #affiliate

Unclear Hashtags

#thankyou[brand name] #collab #sp

Disclosing Links on Your Website

Adding affiliate links to your blog or website is one of the most popular ways to monetize a site, but just like with social media, there are rules to follow.

Listicles and Amazon shopping roundups typically dominate the affiliate blog space, and in these posts, it’s also mandatory to put a disclaimer that there is financial incentive for both the poster of the blog and for the brand of the products that are being promoted.

There are several ways to go about this. You can put a disclaimer at the top of the article, use the WordPress plugin that does it for you automatically, or you can disclose it next to each product. No matter which tactic you choose, as mentioned above, make sure that your verbiage is clear and concise.