My Disclosure PlanMonday, October 05, 2009
So, you may have heard that today the FTC came out with new regulations regarding endorsements. They've been rumored to be in the works for awhile now, and I've been debating about what I would do for disclosure. Honestly, I've been thinking about this for even longer than that, given previous drama about bloggers receiving free products.
What I've decided to do is create little buttons for the bottom of each post that disclose my relationship for that particular post. Nothing fancy, just text that matches the site. If you click the button, it will bring you back to this post, explaining more in detail what my exact relationship is for that post. See? Not fancy, fairly direct. It will be at the bottom of every post, so easy to find.
A quick word about endorsements/contract/formal relationships and 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic.
I have no contracts with any brands. I have no contracts with sponsors. I have Google ads on this site, and I have a contract with Total Beauty, which is a beauty site and they run my ad network. I do not accept payment directly from any advertisers to run links on my site, to add their site to my blog roll or in any way feature their content on my site. All advertisements go through Google or Total Beauty, which saves me a lot of time and hassle, but also means I do not interact with advertisers at all and in fact do not even know who advertises on my site until I see the ads pop up. Neither Google nor Total Beauty have ever put pressure on me to feature content from an advertiser on my site, and there are no stipulations in contracts that they can do so.
As of this post, I receive about 40-50 e-mails a day from Public Relations Agents. Some of these agents work at agencies, some are at the brands directly. Most of these e-mails go unanswered because I simply do not have enough hours in the day to do so. I do sometimes ask for a sample to review for the site, this is likely about 5-10% of all the e-mails that I received. The majority of the time I do not receive the product as you would buy it in the store, rather I receive a "professional sample." This sample is usually not in the same packaging and is much smaller, usually just enough for me to test for a short period for my review.
I believe that receiving free products does not skew the editorial content on my site. I usually will only write about the products that I liked (or loved), and on occasion I'll write about products that I'm not as crazy about if they are a big enough brand that readers are likely to be asking about them or buying them. I try to be fair to products and rarely will I really gush about a product or pan it. I try to offer reviews that describe the product and how it worked for me. If it didn't work for me then I'll offer suggestions about who it is better suited for.
Most of the time this is the button you will be seeing on reviews. I'm lucky that I am a well known site with a large readership. That means I have contacts at most brands and can ask for mini lab samples to review. Honestly, I usually don't seek out products to try out, I get the e-mail with the press release and say "I'd love to try out this new thing," and it arrives on my door step. Or, it just arrives and I had no clue it was coming.
There are still products that I'll buy, and in those cases you'll see this button. If I buy a product I'll try to hunt down more info about it on-line, but likely I saw the product and had to have it.
This button exists, but you will probably never see it as I currently have no formal relationships and have no plans to start any.
** The one exception to this is the invite codes that you see off to the far right for sample sale sites. I haven't figured out how to handle these yet. I am a member of all these sites, but was frustrated by how hard it could be to join them. So, I posted my invite codes. If you become a member you have access to the exact same codes. With these codes I do receive a store credit with your first purchase, just as friends that refer you do. For example, if 10 readers use the RueLaLa code, but only 2 ever buy anything, then I receive 2 credits, one time each, for those purchases. I hope that makes sense! If you think of a good way to handle these relationships, let me know. Or, should I take them down?