4 Common Financial Disclosures You Need to Make in Your Content
I get a lot of questions from sex bloggers and adult content creators about when and how to do financial disclosures. When to disclose, how to do it, what exactly to say/write.
Below are four common financial disclosures you may need to make (depending on how you make money as a smutlancer). Modify the sample wording to fit your personality, content, and audience.
And if you’re not sure what the big deal is about disclosure, here’s why financial disclosure matters.
Did a brand sponsor the blog post you wrote or video you’re making? Was part of the agreement you made contingent on including a specific link, mentioning a specific brand, or including a certain detail? Welcome to the world of paid advertisements, and yes, you need to disclose these to your audience.
It can be as simple as “This post is sponsored by [INSERT COMPANY NAME]” or “Today’s video is brought to you by [BRAND NAME].
If your paid advertisement is a post on social media, you can use hashtags such as: #ad #spon #sponsored
As someone who wants to know when something is an ad, don’t bury the disclosure at the bottom of your content OR in the middle of 30 other hashtags. The expression often used is to disclose “above the fold” which means near the top where someone is most likely to see it.
Not only is it ethically right to disclose when you’re being paid to mention or link to a brand, it’s a legal requirement. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees these things. And yes, they can fine you out of existence if they catch you and your lack of disclosure is egregious enough.
I put this separately because not everyone associates this with sponsored content. A brand (or mysterious SEO/marketing company) reaches out and asks for you to include one of their links in your content. They may say that you can put the link in old content or they may ask you to publish new content.
But they don’t care what the content is about. It’s all about getting their link (and yes, they want it to be a dofollow link) on your website.
Personally, I’m always going to say no because I don’t sell dofollow links. Also, it’s kind of sketchy and gross. Why? Creating links with no regard to whether they’re relevant or helpful to the reader doesn’t serve your audience. It only helps the brand and gets you paid in the short-term.
That being said, if you accept a paid link by a brand (I can see circumstances where it might be okay), you need to disclose that link was paid for. You can use the same language as before: “This post sponsored by [COMPANY NAME]” or “Compensation provided by [COMPANY NAME].”
Did you receive a product for free so that you’d review it? You need to tell your audience that. Some people have become savvy enough to understand that if you’re talking about a product, you probably received it for free. But it’s still the ethically (and legally) right thing to admit this up front.
On a blog post, you can write this as “product received in exchange for an honest review” — you can say it in a podcast and video, too. It’s a good idea to write it out in the description or show notes for video or audio content. This way you’ve covered yourself.
Letting your audience know you were given the product warns them there might be bias in your review. Yes, even thought you strive to be as honest as possible, there’s still a chance you won’t be completely objective. They can decide for themselves once they read or hear your review, but at least they’re forewarned.
You might think affiliate links are no big deal to your audience. They learn about a product they may want to buy but are under no obligation to make a purchase. With your special link, they might even get a discount. So why do you need to disclose your links?
Because people deserve to know you’re affiliated with a specific retailer, and that you’re making money from them. You might only mention that brand or company because of the affiliate link you’ve got. They might NOT be the best choice for someone in your audience.
The vast majority of people won’t mind (in reality, the vast majority of people won’t click your link or make a purchase) but it’s about ethics and honesty. Being straightforward with your audience so they’re armed with information.
It’s an easier disclosure to make, too. Try: “Some links in this blog post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I make a small commission” at the top of your blog post.
Some bloggers use a text widget to create their disclosure so it shows up on every page of their site. Others include it per blog post. I’ve done both (at the same time) at different times. For audio or video content, you can verbalize your disclosure (feel free to use the same wording as you do for blog posts) and add it to show notes pages and video description boxes. And yes, I recommend both in audio and video content.
When it comes to disclosure, my preference is to disclose more not less. I want to make it clear to my audience that I wrote, said, or did something (in part) because I’m being paid.
Money gets treated like a dirty word when we create content. Some readers, listeners, and watchers think you’ve “sold out” when you start making money. The only time you do that is when you don’t promote brands or products that are authentic to you or your audience.
Disclosures are a financial and legal obligation. They also let your audience know that yes, you’re making money, but you also respect them enough to tell them about it. From there, they can decide if your content is still objective, useful, or not just a way to make money. (Although, to be honest, if the content you create is useful or entertaining, why shouldn’t it be a way to make money, too?)
How do you write your disclosures? Are there other forms of compensation you’ve disclosed to an audience? Share your experiences below!