Beginning December 1, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission began requiring bloggers to provide a disclosure whenever there could be a hidden interest or an unspoken bias in relation to recommendations.
I’m a book reviewer and have a shop, so people send me a lot of cool books and gardening gear hoping that I’ll love them enough to want to talk about them here or on Amazon, where I’m a Top 500 Reviewer, or sell them in my shop.
Obviously, I’m not going to rave about something I don’t like just because I got it for free. Free junk is still junk.
But the FTC requires me to make a disclosure every time I may know somebody involved in a business, know the author of a book I’m reviewing, have gotten the product for free to try, or will make some money on a transaction if you buy an item I mention.
I think that’s tedious and can quickly become an eyesore when you’re trying to research or read an article. On my organic weed control article, for example, I’d need like 15 disclosures to let folks know that if you buy organic weed spray through my Amazon links, I make a profit (a very small one), and also, I’ve had a nice conversation with the maker of an organic weed control, and have gotten to try three types of organic weed controls from different companies for free (some of which I don’t mention because they didn’t work)… I’m tired just thinking of explaining that for every post on my site.
So here’s the deal: For every item I review, mention, link to, or recommend in my Gardening Tools page, you can safely assume that one or all of the following is true:
- I have an undying crush on the owner of the business or author of the book. (Of course, that would only apply if I am linking to my partner Trevor’s sites!) 🙂
- The owner of the business or author of the book may have fed me delicious appetizers or cocktails, or if I got really lucky, both.
- My mailman was grouchy at having to yet again knock on my door to provide me with the cool free books or gear someone sent me.
I love to hook up awesome local businesses with people who might like to buy their things. But I’m a recluse. So most of the people I know, I know because they’ve paid me money to do their gardening work. That relationship is likely to continue, because hey – I rock, they rock, and mutual admiration societies are fun like that.
If I direct you to Amazon or another online store, it’s likely that I will make a small percentage of whatever it is you bought.
I won’t say I like something if I think it stinks. I usually won’t mention it at all if that’s the case, or if it’s good but only for some people, I’ll highlight the narrow person that the item may be good for while being perfectly clear about what purposes the item is not good for.
I won’t blog about something because someone paid me cash, gave me a freebie or offered a giveaway. Nor will I link to something because someone offered me cash, gave me a freebie or offered a giveaway.
The only reason I will link to or mention a book or product is because I love it and use it myself.
4 responses to “FTC Disclosures”
Will you ever just plain out slam something that someone gave you for free? If it’s junk, has no intrinsic or extrinsic value, will you tell us? Or will you just pretend you never got it? Just wondering if you’re the polite type. You know, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, talk about the weather.”
Kathryn, I generally assume that the manufacturer would appreciate the feedback on how to improve, if their product is poorly made, poorly designed, or just poorly conceived, so I usually send negative reviews back to the manufacturer in the form of, “thank you, but this product isn’t ready for prime time yet, for these reasons”. It IS out of courtesy – if I make a mistake, I would prefer people tell me privately so I can improve rather than tell everyone they know.
There are other reasons why I try not to highlight products that I feel negatively about, though. One is that it actually helps companies get more search engine traffic if I link to them while discussing their shoddy product. I don’t wish to give an SEO boost to companies when their product isn’t yet good. Another is that I get so many items that if I were to highlight the ones I don’t like, my blog would be overloaded with product reviews, and when people are scanning the archives or looking for my tool reviews, they’ll often just see the title and that I reviewed it, and without reading, assume I felt positively about it. So I try hard to only feature things that I’d pay actual cash money for.
Does that answer your question?
Thank you, that does answer my question. I’m going to prune my hydrangeas on Saturday.
Sweet! Let me know if you have questions.