Yep, I am back with a bad news (but please don’t shoot the messenger, okay? ;) ) – FTC has just updated their "rules"! Previously, adding disclosure in the footer of your review site was enough (or, I thought so).
But now, the disclosure should not only be located ABOVE THE FOLD (so that the reader does not have to scroll down to read it), but should also be in COLORED text. In addition, you simply cannot just say: "Hey, Click here to read my disclosure". Your disclosure must be able to convey the whole message completely to the reader, without having to click on any link!
To learn what the buzz is all about, please check the warrior forum thread located here.
For details of acceptable and unacceptable disclosures, click here.
What have I done?
Well, so far I have only updated my review sites, although I cannot rule out FTC’s axing even the so called "information" sites containing affiliate links – in the near future. An example of such a site would be this one. I am hoping that the FTC guys would be too bored to detect the affiliate links! ;)
Since I have only a handful of affiliate review sites, updating them was not hard at all. However, in order to keep up with the ever changing rules of the fickle-minded FTC, I devised a plan: using PHP includes instead of plain HTML code. That way, if FTC changes their rules again in future, all I have to do is to change just ONE file (instead of manually updating dozens of different affiliate review sites).
So let me give you an example of how to do it on your WordPress blogs.
First, write your disclosure in HTML. Make sure that it is succinct and yet conveys the message very clearly to the reader; you don’t want them to scroll down to read the whole thing (that would violate FTC’s new "rules").
From what I read, you can write a very short disclosure and then provide a link to your longer disclosure page, but even the SHORT disclosure should convey the message clearly to the reader. :D It is a lot like writing an Adwords™ ad. ;) (kidding)
Let us say that your disclosure is like this:
Disclosure: Blah Blah Blah. Click here for more details. (replace the italicized part with your own disclosure; note that your disclosure does not necessarily need to be italicized, at least I did not read any such thing in the "rulebook").
Open Notepad or Xpad. Put your disclosure HTML code in a blank text file, under the ‘Save as Type‘ option, select "ALL Types"; then add a .html or .htm extension to the file name when saving it!
Bingo! You have done it! Now just upload the file to your webserver. ;)
Next, download and install the PHP Code Widget.
Now click on "Appearance=>Widgets". Drag a "PHP Code" widget to the widget area – preferably to the very top of all the other active widgets! Then click on the widget to open it. In the second box (the larger one), put the following PHP code:
<?php include("http://yourdomain.com/disclosure.html"); ?>
Where http://yourdomain.com/disclosure.html is the URL of the file you just uploaded to your server! DO NOT check the "Automatically add paragraphs." option! Save and close the widget, then check your blog to see how it looks like. Again, make sure that you do not have to scroll down to read the disclosure: it must be ABOVE-THE-FOLD!
Non-Wordpress users can simply include the given PHP include code at any part of their site, provided that the whole text appears above-the-fold!
BTW, I have kept the "footer disclosure" intact. With FTC…you just never know…when they combine their "old" and "new" rules to make a third "amendment". ;)
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that despite being a non-US citizen, I still have to comply with FTC rules, mainly because a majority of my customers are from America, and also because my domains and servers are US-based. :(
My last advice is to branch out: involve yourself in different business models. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I hope you can figure out what I mean, LOL. :D
I hope you "enjoyed" this short boring article. Please let me know your thoughts – click here to post a nice comment, thanks :)