The FTC requires that anyone offering reviews and endorsements tell the people reading them if they have any material connection with the seller of the products being mentioned. That means, “If they have a financial or other interest that could influence their comments about the product, or the weight given those comments by a consumer, they must say so.”
This is a good thing. It helps the person reading the comments decide if they believe the person is saying “I like this” because they really like it or if they just like the money or other benefits they might get from saying so.
So, here’s how I’ll handle that:
If I bought the product, I’ll say so. (If it’s free for everyone, I’ll probably mention that, too.)
If I was given a review copy, I’ll say so.
I don’t accept payment to review products, so that won’t be an issue.
If I ever accept sponsored posts – where an advertiser pays to have content posted in the blog itself – the phrase “Sponsored post” will appear in either the post title or the first line of the content. Those are not recommendations, and should not be viewed as such. They’re paid ads.
If I’m an affiliate for the product, meaning I might get paid something if you click on a link and buy the product, I’ll mention that, too.
If I’m promoting my own product(s), you should probably assume I’m biased. 😉
Simple. Clean. Straight forward.
What I will not do is recommend anything unless I believe it will provide you solid value for the money you’d pay for it. I’m not going to give a personal recommendation for something just because the seller pays commissions. That’s rude. With as many really good products as are out there, it’s also unnecessary.
For those who may not be familiar with what affiliate programs are, they’re basically a form of advertising. The seller of the product pays the affiliate some commission for each sale that comes from someone clicking on the affiliate’s link.
It’s important to note that this does not make the product more expensive for you. You would pay the same price either way. Essentially, the affiliate takes on the cost and effort of promoting the product, which means the seller only pays for advertising when it gets them results. They save money on unproductive ads, and they pay affiliates for doing that work for them.
Any banner ads which appear on the site, or links to products in the sidebar or footer, should be assumed to be paid ads. Some of them may not be (as in the case of some “Recommended Resources”), but it’s best to assume I get something from those links. Just like your local newspaper or TV station does when they run ads.