There's been a lot of buzz amongst the WAHM forums and in my email box concerning the new FTC guidelines and what they mean for the pro blogger and internet marketers. If you are a professional / pro blogger, blogging for business or blogging for profit, then I bet you are wondering How will they enforce the new FTC guidelines you ask? After reading Yaro Starak's post covering this subject, I was compelled to share my thoughts with my WAHM and mompreneur family. Well, first let me tell you that I am very happy that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has enforeced some rules that seeks to protect the consumer when they go online to purchase a products or services. With all the "get rich quick" schemes, long-winded squeeze/landing pages and false advertising messages and promises (not to mention the testimonials you see with broken URL links and audio playbacks that don't work), finding HONEST, TRUSTWORTHY products and services with good customer service practices to back them can be difficult.
So, I went to http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm, read the 12-page article but focused more on Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR Part 255 – Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Here are the highlights as they pertain to us online marketers:
- All of your endorsements must be their honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience. There must be full disclosure. So all of your testimonials, affiliate links and websites or even your before/after pictures have to full state ALL of the factors that were involved with those results. So, you can't just say "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days… guaranteed" UNLESS this is the norm and not the exception. Too good to be true?
- When you offer testimonials, it has to represent what the average experience is overall and not just the above-average or exceptional experience. So, in other words, don't just take the best and only 2-3 positive experiences from your best clients in order to promote or sell your product/service. AND guess what? There have been a lot of shady Internet Marketers and for profit bloggers that were taking royalty free pictures (and not the actual photo of the person) and matching it up with their testimonials (I didn't know that). NOT honest is it?
- If you have affiliate products that you want to share with your fans, followers and clients, make sure that you actually use it and just simply promoting it for the sake of getting a commission check. The FTC says this is misleading… yeah!
- You must disclose what your commission or compensation is for any product you offer to the public. Even if it is a free sample that you didn't get paid for, it still has to be disclosed somewhere can be referenced by the prospect.
- If you have multiple websites or blogs that you are either affiliated with or own, you must also be honest about the nature of your relationship with these URLs and why you are linking to them.
There is a new product and promise everywhere you look online. Advertisers and Internet Marketers buying lists and playing on emotions in the name of profit. But what happens when the product breaks? What about real customer service? and not just a forum that takes forever to get a response? There are so many mom bloggers and online businesses that need to have full disclosure about the nature of their relationships with their affiliates and partnerships.
So, here is my disclosure about this article and any prior or future articles that I write. I was NOT PAID to write this article but rather wanted to follow up on a question that one of my subscribers asked about this topic and what our rights are as pro blogger looking to monetize our online businesses.
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