I’d like to see some discussion around the topic of transparency in using affiliate programs.
When you link to one do you indicate that you are benefiting from the link in some way?
I’ll kick us off here and say that I do – and I don’t.
I probably need to come up with a better policy on this – but in general this is how I approach it.
If I’m recommending a product that I’m linking to with an affiliate program then I generally indicate that it is an affiliate link in some way. For example – regular readers will know that I’ve been talking up Chitika’s eMiniMalls recently. I’m obviously very happy with the product and am recommending that bloggers give it a go. In doing so I link to Chitika with an affiliate link. I am part of a group testing an affiliate program that will be launched publicly to all of their publishers shortly.
At the end of each post that I link to Chitika with I place a disclaimer that reads:
Disclaimer: the links to Chitika in this post are affiliate links – if you sign up using these links I earn a small amount as a commission. It does not impact what you earn from Chitika but rather is paid by Chitika. While these links are affiliate links I genuinely believe in the product and have pointed out both its benefits and weaknesses.
I do this because I want people to know that I am genuinely excited by the product – but also that I have some vested in interest in getting them to adopt it. Everyone has seen sleazy examples of people talking up average products in order to make a commission – I don’t want to be seen to be taking this approach so when I make a recommendation I choose to reveal my interests in it.
Of course it’s not always this easy. Some of my blogs have affiliate links deeply linked into the text of my content – more often than not they are with Amazon’s affiliate program. I’ve decided in 99% of these cases not to include a disclaimer. This is largely because the links are not part of a recommendation that I am given – rather they are more informational in function (I usually link to it with the words ‘get the latest price on this product’).
To be honest I’m not completely comfortable with this approach but at this point have decided that the line for me is about whether I’m recommending a product or not. Complicating the problem for me is that I have close to 12,000 posts on my blogs at present – making changes to deep links is a serious job.
The only place where I am stricter on this is here at ProBlogger. I always put a disclaimer on affiliate links here these days. I do this because of the nature of this site – it’s about making money and I want people to know exactly what my interests are here.
I’m very interested to hear other’s opinions on the topic of transparency in affiliate programs
I’m aware that many bloggers take different stands on this. As I surfed the web this morning looking at different blogs I noticed that most have no disclaimers at all. For example the majority of people in the Chitika eMiniMall affiliate program don’t acknowledge that they stand to make money from those who sign up. I’m not wanting to impose my own standards on others – it’s a matter of personal choice – but I’m interested to hear people’s thinking on decisions around it.