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Sponored Post… NOT

I got my first offer to do a sponsored post and I’m not going to do it. I thought long and hard if the content would add anything to my blog or if my readers would even care about the product and the answer was no. It was a really good company but not a good fit with my blog. People come to my blog for DIYs not to be sold things that aren’t related to the projects I post.

What would I have gotten in return for access to my thousands of readers and everyone else who reads my blog? A gift certificate. Actually it was a very easy decision to say no. I will be curious which bloggers DO accept this sponsor’s gift certificate and if all the posts will sound similar.

What made my decision so easy was the fact that the sponsor would  have “helped” generate the blog post title and then the actual content of the post. I know that all sponsored posts are not like this one, but a lot of them are and readers can tell a canned post from the first sentence to the last.

I love my blog too much to risk losing readers and credibility over a post that someone else “helped” me write for a gift certificate. 

*I am so not judging any blog that does sponsored posts because I don’t know what deal they struck with what company or what they or their readers want. Because this is Tumblr I pretty much know what my readers want and expect from my blog :)

I’ve seen some crafts from one site using clearly sponsored products with no “I’m using sponsored products” disclaimers. You will not be seeing this blog mentioned on Truebluemeandyou

Really annoying and I’m not going to post anymore from this blog and I’ve loved lots of their DIYs in the past - it’s happened several times in a row and I don’t want my readers buying this product if no alternative is given. Besides it being possibly illegal to not mention your sponsorship/endorsement, you are wasting my time because you aren’t upfront about endorsing a product. You are not giving me the option to decide whether or not I want to read a DIY with sponsored products or not. If you are upfront about using sponsored products and I think the DIY is really great, I will read your post and probably reblog it.

The FTC Guidelines for writing reviews, affiliations and sponsored posts are translated into plain English by Will Write for Food here (with much more info at the post and in the comments’ section):

1. The FTC can fine both the blogger and the company for not disclosing an arrangement where the company compensates the blogger for a review, positive mention, or sponsored post. Wouldn’t that be a bummer, to not mention your arrangement in the post and then find it costs you a new client? So not worth it.

First, let’s define an “arrangement.” According to the FTC, compensation happens when you:

  • Receive a free product and review it
  • Link to the product’s website and receive a commission (called an affiliate program)
  • Receive money, product or services for posting about a product
  • Review a product or service that comes from an advertiser on your site.

The FTC does not require you to disclose the relationship if you:

  • Use a coupon for a more expensive brand of a company’s product than what you would normally buy, and blog about the product
  • Review products from a swag bag at a conference.
2. The definition of “disclosure” is more specific. It’s not enough to make a general disclosure on your About page anymore. The discloser must be contained in the post itself. “So long as the disclosure clearly and conspicuously conveys to the reader the relationship between the blogger and the advertiser, the disclosure will be adequate,” states the article. That means you can write something as simple as, “Company ABC gave me this product to review” and you’re done.
And, it’s not enough to disclose the relationship just on your blog post. If you tweet about your post, or you tweet about a product for which you have been compensated, Sack suggests you add #paid ad, #paid or #ad at the end. I can’t say as I’ve seen any of those monikers yet, including during presentations at IACP from marketers who want to work with food bloggers. I have seen #spon, though.
This disclosure rule affects me as well. From now on, whenever I post about a book and include a link to Amazon, I have to disclose the relationship right there. On one hand, I think, “Doesn’t everyone know how this works?” and “Who cares if I make 26 cents if someone buys a copy?” But on the other hand, it’s best to just be transparent about it.
For more on this subject, read:
Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising 
The FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking