See the updates to the FTC disclosure guidelines here.
Note: you don’t have to disclose your exact earnings on your blog (such as $1,000/year), you just have to disclose the fact that you do earn SOMETHING from your blog.
Many people don’t know what to do when they start making money. If you make any money on your blog from other businesses, you are required by law to disclose that fact. If you receive free glasses in exchange for a link or mention, you must disclose that. If you use affiliate links, you must have a disclosure policy in place.
Here’s the official info on it if you like legal jargon:
And the granddaddy of the all: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2000/05/0005dotcomstaffreport.pdf
The easiest way to cover your back is to have a comprehensive disclosure policy on every page or post on your site. Take a look at these two examples of disclosure policy placement. LookBeforeSpending.com has this at the bottom of every post: “THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. SEE OUR DISCLOSURE POLICY” and the full policy is linked. KatieDidWhat.com has the disclosure policy visible just under the post/page title on every page of her blog. A good disclosure policy can cover the majority of your obligations.
Here is an example of the disclosure policy from my other site. This covers what Amazon, Google and most other companies want you to say in the policy. Larger affiliate companies such as Google (Adsense) and Amazon require you to include specific things in your disclosure policy. You can get a quick, basic disclosure policy here: disclosurepolicy.org
Simply having the disclosure policy in place is not enough in some cases. If you write full sponsored posts about a company, you should disclose at the bottom of the post that the post was sponsored, or that “this post is sponsored content” while letting your readers know that all opinions are still your own. Free products DO count as sponsored content. You received something in exchange for a post or mention, and you are required to fully disclose that information.
So, that’s the skinny on full disclosure. Now, if you look around at your fellow blogs, you’ll see a lot of bloggers not following the rules. Are they getting away with it? Yes. But do you want to be the one left holding the bag when the FTC comes knocking? I sure don’t.