Quick Answer: An affiliate disclosure is a disclosure nearby an affiliate link that lets people know the person who shared the link will be compensated if somebody clicks on it & makes a purchase or completes some specific action (such as entering an email address or completing a sign-up form).
Chances are you’re here because you’ve either seen affiliate disclosures around the web & found yourself wondering what the heck they are or you share affiliate links online to earn money & you’ve been told that in order to do it legitimately (or to get accepted into affiliate programs) you need to have an affiliate disclosure.
But just what is an affiliate disclosure? And do you really need to disclose all of your affiliate links?
Well, you’ve landed in the right place because in this blog post I’m going to provide in-depth answers to both of those questions. Plus, I’m also going to share an example affiliate disclosure that you can feel free to copy & use.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in…
What Is An Affiliate Disclosure? | Do You Have To Disclose Affiliate Links? | What Happens If You Don’t Disclose Affiliate Links? | How To Disclose Affiliate Links | Affiliate Disclosure Examples | The Bottom Line
What Is An Affiliate Disclosure?
In short, an affiliate disclosure is basically a statement that lets you know when a person may be compensated if you happen to click on a link they’ve posted & either make a purchase or complete some sort of action.
For example, if somebody is an affiliate of Amazon & they recommend a pair of trainers via their Amazon affiliate link on Instagram, then this person would stand to earn money if somebody clicked on it & made a purchase.
And the problem this brings forward is that the recommendation may not actually be genuine.
You see, some dishonest affiliates may (and do) recommend products that do not actually provide the best value to their audience, simply because those specific products pay better commissions than the alternatives.
So the aim of affiliate disclosures is to help people make better-informed decisions about whether or not the recommendations that they are viewing are actually genuine.
And this doesn’t mean that all affiliate recommendations aren’t genuine. The reality is the opposite. Most people recommend the things that they enjoy or use, then they affiliate with them & share them with others to earn money.
But having an affiliate disclosure alongside the links enables you to be more aware as a potential buyer & it also encourages you to do a bit of extra due diligence before taking action on the recommendation.
However, whilst I used the word “buyer” above, you should also be aware that you don’t actually necessarily need to actually buy something via an affiliate link in order for the affiliate (the person who referred you) to get paid.
There are actually many affiliate programs that will enable affiliates to earn money even if they just manage to get users to complete a simple action, such as entering an email address or creating a free account.
And even those links, through which the visitor doesn’t even need to spend money, still need to be disclosed.
Do You Have To Disclose Affiliate Links?
Yes, absolutely, and as an affiliate, you should actually “want” to disclose your affiliate links because by doing so you will build much more trust with your audience & your promotions will seem much more professional.
It’s understandable that as an affiliate you may feel disclosing your affiliate links will affect your commissions & it’s true, it likely will but it’ll 9 times out of 10 it’ll typically result in a positive impact, rather than a negative one.
You see, if you don’t provide a disclosure & try to hide your affiliation, people will be unsure about your motives & it can feel like they’re being tricked so as a result, they’re going to be less likely to trust your recommendations.
But if you recommend a product or service & say something along the lines of “hey, by the way, if you purchase via this link I’ll earn a commission at no extra expense to you” then people will immediately see you as being honest & upfront & therefore they’ll be much more likely to trust your recommendation & make a purchase.
And alongside that, you also need to disclose your affiliate links because, well, in most countries, it’s the law.
For example, the USA’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires affiliate links to be disclosed & similarly in the UK, the Consumer Protection Act also requires that advertisers disclose their affiliations in order to prevent customers from being misled.
So if you want more sales & you want to keep on the right side of the law, it’s best to disclose your links.
What Happens If You Don’t Disclose Affiliate Links?
If you don’t disclose your affiliate links then not only may you see poorer conversions from your clicks (since your audience may not be as trusting of you), but you could also get fined by regulatory bodies such as the FTC.
In short, it’s not worth the risk… And as mentioned in the previous section, disclosing your affiliate links as being affiliate links will actually likely result in you seeing higher conversions because you immediately appear more trustworthy to your audience.
So disclosing your affiliate links is certainly the sensible thing to do.
How To Disclose Affiliate Links
When disclosing affiliate links there are 2 simple rules that you need to follow;
The first rule is that your disclosure must either be in close proximity to each individual affiliate link or it must make it clear that ALL of the links on the page should be taken to be affiliate links.
Basically, it should be made obvious that an affiliate link is an affiliate link.
So, for example, when a user clicks a link you could take them to a “bridge page” that explains the link is an affiliate link prior to allowing them to continue to the destination & you could give them the option to continue via the affiliate link (and enable you to earn a commission) or go to the website directly. That would be fine.
And the second rule is that you should explain things simply to your audience so that everybody can understand the fact that you may be compensated if they click through your link & make a purchase or complete an action.
For example, you should not simply say “this link is an affiliate link” because it’s possible that the viewer may not understand the definition of an affiliate link. Instead, you should use wording such as “I may receive compensation if you click via this link & make a purchase”.
So, to summarise – your disclosure should be obvious, and easy to understand. That’s it.
And there is no specific wording that you need to use – you can disclose it exactly how you want to disclose it, just so long as it’s easy for the readers to understand.
Affiliate Disclosure Examples
To give you an idea of what others are doing in terms of disclosing their affiliate links, here are some real-world affiliate disclosure examples from various different websites:
The blog shown in the screenshot above leverages a floating affiliate disclosure that stays visible at the bottom of the browser window as you scroll through the website.
The disclosure reads “Our website is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.” and it then links to a more in-depth affiliate disclosure policy on a separate page.
I particularly like that the colour of the floating bar has been made to really stand out from the rest of the page.
In this second example from another blog, the author has added a box in which he/she outlines that there are affiliate links on the page. He/she also proceeds to state that even though some affiliate links are used, all of the products listed have been personally period or used. As you can see, the box has been made to really stand out.
In this third example, the blog author actually places a disclaimer immediately after the use of an affiliate link & states that he/she is a “compensated advisor and an affiliate” to make it clear the promotion is a paid one.
The Bottom Line
As an affiliate, you should always disclose your affiliate links. This is because it’s vital to build trust with your audience if you wish to make sales & the easiest way to gain that trust is to be completely honest & transparent.
And of course, as mentioned further up in this post it’s also because for many countries, it’s a legal requirement.
Disclosing your affiliate links is very simple to do & by disclosing your affiliations you could (and likely will) discover that your conversions will increase. This may come as a surprise, but from my own tests, it’s 100% true.
If you happen to have any additional questions or if there’s something you’re unsure about then don’t hesitate to leave a question below. We always aim to respond to comments as quickly as we can & we’d love to help.