Blogger brings you Amazon Associates

A few months ago, we looked a how to sign up for and use Amazon Associates, an affiliate marketing program that gives you a small percentage of any sales you generate for Amazon. Now Blogger is making it even easier to use Amazon’s program—without ever leaving your post window.

You may have noticed the Monetize tab Blogger added back in April. Up until yesterday, only Google ads (AdSense) for your site and feed appeared here. Now you can also find your Amazon Associates information there, too.

To start, go to Monetize > Amazon Associates. Here you can either enter your Associates ID if you already have one, or start the sign up process (and again, we have a step-by-step walk-through on signing up for Amazon)
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Once you’re finished with that step, you have the option to add the Amazon Product Finder to your Edit/Compose New Post page. I say go for it, and I’ll show you why.

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The Product Finder is a widget that lives on the Compose New/Edit Post page. When you’re working on a post and you want to include a product link to Amazon, just type in part of the name or highlight the title in your post (you can also search by category with the pull-down menu where it says “Amazon.com”).
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Once you find the product you want, you can choose the link type to insert into your post—text, image or both. In my example, I went for both:

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There are lots of other ways to use Amazon on your blog—so get started!

Is the FTC coming after mom bloggers?

restrained-150x150Have you heard about the FTC’s new policies for bloggers? Yep, that’s right, the US federal government is making rules that will affect bloggers everywhere—including mom bloggers.

What’s this monumental change? Well, the Federal Trade Commission is taking a closer look at online reviews. Yeah, it’s still going to be okay to review products online—but if you were paid to write the review, got the product for free, or use an affiliate link in your post, you’ll need to tell your readers.

The FTC hasn’t published specific guidelines yet (I’ll let you know when they do), but they’ve addressed the subject in new policies over the last few months.

sheriffWhat does this mean for you? I take it to mean that now is a good time to get a disclosure policy. Here is my disclosure policy. In the absence of specifics from the FTC, I believe a site-wide policy, when linked prominently and worded appropriately, is sufficient notice for affiliate links. Specific product reviews or paid posts, however, would probably not be covered by blanket statements like this (unless all of your product reviews use the exact same terms).

“But—but—but—” you say? Brian Clark at Copyblogger has a great post today pointing out that disclosure can actually be a selling point. In his examples, he discloses affiliate links at the link level.

Andy Beal at Marketing Pilgrim also has some suggestions to avoid the wrath of the Feds, especially if you don’t feel a site-wide disclosure is enough:

So, how can you make sure you don’t ever hear from the FTC?

If in doubt, spell it out! Cheesy, I know, but it will help you. If you ever stop to ask yourself, "should I disclose this?" then the answer is probably "yes." The chances are that whatever is causing the guilt-trip isn’t worthy of the FTC’s attention, but you’ll feel better for disclosing it AND you’ll earn the trust of your readers!

Other tips that might help you sleep at night:

  • Create a page that lists all of your potential "conflict of interests" and simply link to it whenever your post includes mention of one of those relationships.
  • Tag any links with something visible and obvious. Such as (affiliate) or (sponsor).
  • You don’t have to publish the full terms of your compensation. Simply stating "Company X sponsored this post…") or ("We received free XXX as part of this review…") will likely be enough to satisfy the FTC.

And finally, I have to link to AllThingsD‘s coverage, because they used the cover of “The Who Sell Out” and I like the Who. ;)

Warning: I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice. This is my opinion and interpretation of vague FTC guideline statements that have yet to be made into concrete, specific policies.

More Works-for-me Wednesday

Photo credits: handcuffs—Penny Mathews; badge—Steve Woods

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