Blog disclosures and disclaimers are essential legal policies you need to run your website legally.
If you’re running your own blog, you know that there’s a lot to do! From researching your blog topics to taking care of all the technical aspects of your website, your hands are likely full.
That being said, there’s one important aspect of running a blog that you should know about: blog disclosures.
Considering the fact that they are required by law, you simply can’t get around using them. So what do you need to have on your website so that you can rest assured that you are legal?
Today, I’ll be telling you everything you need to know about blog disclosures.
As both a six-figure blogger and business lawyer, I have a passion for helping up-and-coming bloggers manage the legal aspects of their blog.
I’ve had firsthand experience helping over 30,000 entrepreneurs that were unaware of the unexpected and costly legal problems that would come up from neglecting to invest in the necessary legal documents for their blog.
While this may seem like a small mistake that any blogger could make, the consequences are huge. After reading this post detailing everything you need to know about blog disclosures and disclaimers, you’ll have all of the information you need to legally protect your website and online business.
Let’s get started!
What Are Blog Disclosures?
If you’ve never heard of a blog disclosure before, you’re probably wondering what it is and why you need it.
A blog disclosure is a written statement that informs your reader of your relationship with the partners, brands, and products that you promote on your website.
This disclosure acts as a way of letting your readers know that there is a monetary partnership between you and what you promote on your website.
Why Are Blog Disclosures Legally Required?
So why do you need a blog disclosure on your website?
Well, because they are legally required.
Blog disclosures are rules established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These rules ensure that your readers fully understand either that you will be paid or have been paid for sharing the information that is contained in the post.
The FTC takes these rules very seriously so make sure to follow them otherwise you risk getting audited, fined and even having your business shut down. For example, 90 influencers on Instagram here were audited and sent letters of non-compliance by the FTC for failing to follow the disclosure rules.
There are tons more serious examples where Google and Facebook have also been audited and fined in millions.
If you are a blogger who is looking to monetize your site, it is highly likely that you are using at least one if not more than one of the following ways to make money from blogging:
- Affiliate Links
- Selling Products
- Email Marketing
- Sponsored posts
In order to ensure that you get to keep your hard-earned money made using the methods above, you’ll want to make sure that you’re working in compliance with the laws established by the Federal Trade Commission. That means that you’ll have to include the proper policies and blog disclosures on your website.
At its core, the rules set by blog disclosures are in place to ensure that you are being both honest and transparent with your audience.
It is also your responsibility to let your readers know what information you are collecting from them and why. It is equally important that your readers are made aware if you have any particular interest when it comes to the links that they click on when they visit your site. Basically, it is your responsibility to inform readers that you have skin in the game.
Not only are blog disclosures required but they also act as a way for you to build trust with your audience. Since you are being upfront, honest, and transparent, your audience will feel as though they can truly trust everything that you have to say.
What Types of Content Must Have a Blog Disclosure?
As a basic rule, any content that involves sharing a product, company, or brand where any money is exchanged or could be exchanged requires a blog disclosure.
But even if you are not paid for a product and received that product for free, you should still give a blog disclosure letting your readers know that you received the product for free in exchange for your review or something like that.
Let’s take a look at the two most common types of content that require a blog disclosure: sponsored posts and affiliate links.
Blog disclosures are required in the case of all sponsored posts. Seeing as you were paid to write the post and talk about your client, it is required by law that you disclose the fact that it is a sponsored post to your readers. Your audience must be made aware that this relationship exists.
A blog disclosure should appear on each and every sponsored post that exists on your website.
Affiliate marketing is commonly used by bloggers as a way to monetize their websites.
Unfortunately, many bloggers are unaware of the fact that all affiliate links on their website must be accompanied by a blog disclosure.
Affiliate marketing offers the potential for you to make money on the products you share- should your readers happen to buy.
Since you’re being paid to share the product, you must make this fact known to your readers ahead of time. Put simply, your readers must know that if they buy the product, you’ll be earning money from the sale.
This means, if you insert affiliate links in a blog post, email or social media post, an affiliate disclosure must be included. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Free Products Received
You may receive a free product (or a special discount on the product) in exchange for your review or creating a blog post for it. In that case, you also need to give a blog disclosure letting your readers know that you received a free product.
Again, it goes back to the principle of being honest and transparent with your readers and fulfilling the FTC legal requirements.
How to Write a Proper Blog Disclosure
Now that you have an understanding of what blog disclosures are as well as why they are legally required, it’s time to dive into how to write a blog disclosure.
Writing a blog disclosure is not hard but you need to make sure you are using the right legal language that complies with FTC requirements.
Here’s an example of a blog disclosure on my site for affiliate links (affiliate disclosure). You are free to use this language if you wish and see it in this blog post at the very top. You can use the same language in emails if your emails are going to share affiliate links with your subscribers.
The important thing to remember is that you want to link to your full “Disclosure/Disclaimer page” policy on your website, so your readers get a chance to read the complete affiliate disclosure and disclaimer.
We will talk about the difference between a disclosure vs. disclaimer in a little bit below.
A good blog disclosure educates your reader about your financial gains, albeit small.
Other Affiliate Link Blog Disclosure Examples
Here are a couple more examples of a good blog disclosure language other than mine above:
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you make a purchase through them, I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you. Please see full disclosure policy here [LINK TO YOUR DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER PAGE]
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Please see full disclosure for more information [then make sure to link to your disclosure/disclaimer blog policy page here]
This post contains affiliate links, and I may be compensated if you make a purchase through my link. See full disclosure here [then make sure to link to your disclosure/disclaimer blog policy page here]
This post may contain affiliate links. I will make a small commission if you make a purchase through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here [then make sure to link to your disclosure/disclaimer blog policy page here].
So what makes this example of a blog disclosure a good one?
Notice that in each example above, I’m giving the reader the link to my full Disclosure and Disclaimer page. This is the legal page on your website (in the footer section) that outlines the nature of your relationship with affiliate partners in greater detail.
Don’t worry about writing all this legalese yourself! As a lawyer, I have created this Disclaimer (including all your disclosures) template that you can begin using instantly.
You will see why it’s so important to have a proper Disclaimer/Disclosure page on your website to prevent legal issues and lawsuits (more on this in the blog disclaimer section below).
These blog disclosure examples above also follow the rules enforced by the FTC and disclose the proper information in full on your blog.
Follow these 4 steps to write your blog disclosure accurately:
- Make it abundantly clear that you’ll receive some form of compensation from companies that you promote on your site,
- That the compensation received will never influence the content promoted on the website,
- Whether it’s an affiliate link, sponsored post or free product that you’ll receive
- That the opinions and views expressed on the blog are solely yours, the blog owner.
These are all the major points that you will want to make sure you address when writing your own blog disclosure.
Make sure that your blog disclosure is written in plain, easy to understand language and that you address each of these key points.
Your audience shouldn’t have to guess at what your intentions are after reading your blog disclosure. Make it easy for them to understand while remaining transparent and factual!
For example, you can’t put a blog disclosure like this on your site and think it’s legally sufficient:
This post contains affiliate links
The problem with a one-line blog disclosure like above is that it doesn’t tell the reader anything! It’s too vague.
Most people don’t know what affiliate links are or how they work. So you must go a little step further and make it clear that you will earn a commission if they click and purchase from your affiliate link.
In other words, make your readers aware of affiliate link partnerships when inserting them onto your website.
When in doubt, always put yourself in the position of your reader and give more information to ensure your compliance with the law.
How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and other Platforms
Another common question I always get asked is how to disclose your affiliate link on social media?
What if you are sharing an affiliate link for a product you love with a friend on Facebook or Instagram or simply want to link to your affiliate link on Pinterest or YouTube?
You are still required to give affiliate disclosures under the FTC rules. Here’s how you do that:
How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest
If you are simply sharing an affiliate link on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and creating a new post for it then make sure to give your affiliate disclosure close to the affiliate link, saying “affiliate link”, or “aff link” or “aff”.
In other words, share your affiliate link and then write those words at the end or beginning of the affiliate link letting your readers know.
You could even write, “This is an affiliate link,” and that’s legally sufficient. Just make sure your affiliate disclosure is clearly visible and not hidden between your hashtags and other text.
For Pinterest, same thing, you can link directly to your affiliate links but make sure you write out “affiliate link”, “aff link” or “this is an affiliate link” in the Pin description.
For Instagram, if you have a swipe-up feature in your Instagram story then make sure to mention in there with a hashtag that it’s an affiliate link (#affiliatelink or “afflink”).
How to Properly Disclose Affiliate Links on YouTube
If you mention an affiliate product in your Youtube video, then make it clear that it’s an affiliate link and give the affiliate disclosure in your video description as shown above.
Because Youtube videos can be shared and embedded in various places, you want to make sure your viewers can see the disclosure in the video if you are going to share the affiliate link directly in the video.
Blog Disclosure for Sponsored Posts (Sponsorships)
Sponsored posts are when you are paid to write a blog post. Sponsorships are not limited to blog posts obviously. You can be paid to post on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc) too.
If you are not familiar with how to make money with sponsored posts then read this post. As you’ll see, you can make $10,000 more with sponsored posts but you need to follow the legal rules set by the FTC.
Seeing as you were paid to write the post, your reader must be well aware of this before they get too far into the post itself.
Here is one great example of how to properly disclose your relationship in a sponsored post.
As you can see in this particular blog disclosure for a sponsored post, I explicitly made it clear that I was compensated for this post.
This sponsored posts blog disclosure is also at the beginning of my post where my readers can see it right away. It’s not buried in the text or at the bottom of the post.
Let’s look at another good examples of a sponsored posts blog disclosure:
In this example above, the owner of the blog disclosed that this is a sponsored post written by them on behalf of their sponsor, which they name.
They also express that the views in the post are solely their own. Best of all, this blog disclosure is situated at the very top of the post where it is the first thing that their readers see. This is a perfect example of good placement of a blog disclosure on a website.
In addition to adding a blog disclosure on your website at the top of the post, if you are going to feature this post on your social media accounts, you must also disclose that it is a sponsored post there as well.
The best way to include a blog disclosure when sharing to social media is to include either #sponsored or #ad hashtags.
The reason that you must use a hashtag when sharing sponsored content to social media is that the reader must be made aware that you were paid to write the post before they click on it to read.
After all, this is why the brand or company paid you to write the post in the first place- for people to read about and learn more about their product. This is an example of an advertisement and, for this reason, it must be classified as such when sharing on social media.
Where Should You Add the Blog Disclosure on Your Website?
Now that you understand the language you need in a good blog disclosure, you may be wondering where you should add the blog disclosure on your website?
As a general rule, blog disclosures must be located as close to the link or content in question as possible.
The main objective here is for your reader to see your blog disclosure before they read the content or click the link.
Otherwise, your blog disclosure will be all for naught. This means that you CANNOT put your blog disclosure at the bottom of the post or in the footer of your website.
Always put your blog disclosure before the eyes of your reader first. For this reason, the best place for you to put your blog disclosure is at the top of the content or right above the link in question.
See my blog disclosure example above to get an idea!
What are Blog Disclaimers and Why Do You Need Them?
Next, let’s talk about blog disclaimers.
Blog disclaimers are crucial because they limit your liability surrounding the content that you create.
At the end of the day, this means that disclaimers can keep you from getting into serious legal trouble and lawsuits.
This can be especially important depending on what niche you are working in, namely if you’re creating content surrounding money or health.
After all, you don’t want to get into legal trouble because one of your readers lost all of their money from using the strategies outlined on your website.
For example, let’s say you are a fitness or health coach and you suggest an exercise program on your website to your readers.
Now one of your readers gets injured using your techniques or recommendations then that person could potentially sue you for their damages.
Same thing can happen in any niche! (this is not limited to just health and fitness).
That’s why a proper blog disclaimer lets your readers know that the information you are providing is for informational and educational purposes only and includes language in there to reduce your legal liability in case of harm to the other person.
There are a variety of other blog disclaimers that are important if you happen to share testimonials or income reports because you’ll need to make sure that your audience knows that you don’t guarantee the exact same results portrayed on your site.
This is again important to limit your legal liability and not have people sue you for the information and content you share on your blog.
You’d write and tailor a blog disclaimer to your niche.
How to Write a Good Blog Disclaimer
Now that you understand both how to write a blog disclosure and where to put this blog disclosure on your website, it’s time for us to talk about how to write a good blog disclaimer.
By now, you also understand the key difference between a blog disclosure and a disclaimer.
The first important thing to understand when writing a good blog disclaimer is knowing what legal language to include in it.
Make it clear to your readers that they should not rely on your blog content and, if they do, you cannot be held liable.
Additionally, it should also be made abundantly clear that you aren’t making any guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. This reminds your readers that any info found on your website is not a substitute for professional advice.
Here are some important things you should take into account when writing your own blog disclaimer:
- The nature of your website – Let your readers know the nature of your website. It should be clear, for one, that a blog differs from a website. A blog contains ever-changing content and can include conversations and comments as compared with a website. This might seem obvious, but it’s good to make it clear what type of site you are running to your readers.
- Opinionated content – Remind your readers that your blog contains your opinions alone. In saying this, you should make it clear to your readers that your views do not reflect the opinions of any organizations you might be affiliated with. This helps to show that if, perhaps you work with a certain company, you aren’t making official statements on behalf of that company. That’s where things could get sticky.
- Hold harmless clause – A hold harmless clause is where you remind your readers that the information you are presenting on your blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. In making this statement, it is made clear that the information shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice, such a medical, legal, tax, financial, etc.
- Errors on your site – You should indicate that any information you provide on your blog is accurate and true to the best of your knowledge, but that there is always a chance of omissions, errors, or mistakes.
- Not a professional – Next, you should indicate that you are not a professional, if that’s the case. Therefore, you are not a professional surrounding whatever the topic you’re writing about is. Remind your readers that you are not a professional so the information you are offering shouldn’t be viewed as professional advice.
- Are a professional, but… – If you are in fact a professional for a topic that you’re writing on, make sure you share that. At the same time, it is in your best interest to remind your readers of what that means. Indicate that, even though you’re a professional, your blog posts are for information purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as professional advice. You should also take this as a chance to remind your readers to consult with a professional before taking any sort of action and that action shouldn’t be taken based on your views or opinions alone.
Here’s a part of my legal disclaimer example to show you what I mean: “I’m a lawyer by profession but I’m not your lawyer. Nothing on this site should be construed as legal advice.”
- Reservation of rights – In this section of your blog disclaimer, you should indicate that you reserve the right to change how you manage or run your blog and that you may change the focus or content on your blog at any given time.
Following these recommendations to write a great blog disclaimer that legally protects you!
Since blog disclosures and disclaimers are SO important to legally protect you and your business, you don’t want to miss out on a legal provision exposing you to liability and risk of lawsuits.
Therefore, I have put together 10+ years of legal experience as a lawyer to make your life easy!
Blog Disclaimer Template (Written by a Lawyer)
You don’t have to waste valuable time getting frustrated and trying to put together a blog disclaimer (and disclosure policy) yourself.
Grab my best selling Disclaimer template here and simply fill in a few blanks as instructed and begin using this template instantly for your blog!
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I’d suggest that instead of getting my Disclaimer template individually, grab my Starter Legal Bundle instead (first bundle on the sales page that’s discounted and will save you more time and money).
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Where Should You Put Blog Disclaimers on Your Website?
After getting my Disclaimer template, you may be wondering where should I put blog disclaimers on my website?
Just like your blog disclosures, blog disclaimers should always be easily viewable by your readers.
So you want to make sure that your blog disclaimer is always accessible, regardless of the particular page that your users are browsing.
The best place to situate your blog disclaimer is typically considered to be the footer of your website.
Typically, your blog disclosures are also included as part of your Disclaimer page, so everything is nicely placed on ONE legal page of your website.
That’s why with my Disclaimer template here, you get both all your blog disclosures (affiliate and sponsored posts disclosures) plus the blog disclaimers you need to fully protect yourself as a blogger.
Once you are done customizing this template to your business as instructed, you simply create a page on your website and add the disclosure/disclaimer policy in the footer section. That’s it, it’s pretty easy and quick!
Most bloggers get done with all 3 legal pages on their website with my templates in as little as 15 minutes!
Other Legal Policies You Need On Your Website Besides Blog Disclosures and Disclaimers
Now that you have a complete understanding of what blog disclosures and blog disclaimers are as well as how to write them and where to put them on your website, it’s time for us to discuss a few other legal policies that you need on your website.
While blog disclosures protect your readers and disclose all of the information they need to know when navigating your website and blog disclaimers protect you legally, there are two other legal policies that your website must include.
Let’s briefly talk about those other legal policies since I cover them in a lot more detail in this blog post! (and also in this post)
Another law that applies to bloggers is the General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR.
This law requires that companies and websites, like yours, get consent to collect information and to let your audience know about all of the information that you are collecting. I cover GDPR and its specific requirements in this blog post.
In the alternative, grab my Starter, Premium or VIP Legal Bundle here (that comes with lots of legal protection for your business plus tons of mind blowing bonuses!)
Terms and Conditions
A Terms and Conditions policy on your website is very important to avoid legal disputes and dictate your website rules.
Put simply, a terms and conditions page sets the rules for using your website. Should a customer sue you, it’s this legal page that will come into play to help you as a blogger.
A terms and conditions policy also protects your intellectual property rights to the content contained in your website.
If you ever find yourself facing a legal court battle, the judge will review your terms and conditions page to determine what kind of contractural relationship you had with the customer in question. For this reason, when creating a terms and conditions policy, you’ll want to write it with the goal to have it hold up in court.
Learn more about it in this blog post.
You don’t have to worry about writing the Terms and Conditions policy yourself. Instead, you can grab my template here to get done in minutes!
As mentioned above, you also get this Terms and Conditions template at a discounted price in one of my Legal Bundles here.
- what cookies are active on your website,
- what user data those cookies track,
- for what purpose those cookies are used, and
- where in the world this data is sent.
Amazon Associates Disclosure Policy
If you are a member of the Amazon Associates Program, just like all your other affiliate links, you are legally required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose this affiliate relationship to your readers. That’s where the Amazon Associates disclosure policy comes into play.
As an Amazon Associate, you need special language on your site to satisfy Amazon’s disclosure requirement.
When you grab my Disclaimer template individually OR as part of any of my Legal Bundles here, I give you that language for free to remain compliant with Amazon’s legal requirements, and you’ll get the Amazon disclaimer in there to ensure your website is compliant with the FTC’s guidelines too!
RELATED POSTS TO Blog Disclosures and Disclaimers
You may be wondering what other legal documents or contracts do I need to run my online business legally?
Visit this page on my site for legal tips for entrepreneurs.
Here are the most popular blog posts to help you! Check them out below:
- Most Important Legal Contract For Your Business: Confidentiality Agreement
- 50 Entrepreneurs Reveal Why Free Legal Templates Don’t Protect Your Business
- What’s a Media Release Agreement and How to Use it? (use this template to gain legal rights to use someone’s name, photos, videos and more)
- 16 DIY Legal Document Templates You Need to Protect Your Online and Offline Business from Lawsuits
- How to Make Your Giveaways Legal + Template You Need
- 3 Legal Pages You Must Have on Your Website
- Should you form an LLC for your blog? The Ultimate Guide to LLC’s for Bloggers
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Comment below if this post helped you as a blogger? What are you struggling with right now?
Wow – so much great information! Thank you.
You are welcome, Jaime! glad this post helped you.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge in this detailed, informative post!
You are welcome, Dana! Glad the post helped you 🙂
So helpful as I begin my journey with affiliate marketing! I have your legal bundle and it was so easy! Thanks for all you do to make the legal stuff not so scary! 🙂
You are welcome, Skye!
really great post, thanks for sharing!
You are welcome!