5 Tips on Creating an Effective and Fun Disclosure Policy

You must have one of these!

[All TentBloggers must have a Disclosure Policy, per the definition of a TentBlogger!]

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

Did you know that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) released guidelines for bloggers regarding endorsements and advertisements?

What this ultimately means is that if you’re making any money through your blog, in the many various ways that a blogger makes money, you will want to protect yourself and create something called a “Disclosure Policy” and make it publicly accessible via a link on your homepage (footer, header, or wherever) or another highly trafficked page.

But before you go and freak out please note that there’s a lot of fluidity in the interpretation of this law and they recognize that explicitly:

[The Guides] are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves.

In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.

What this means is that it affords you the opportunity to address your blog community directly and in a way that is both personal and applicable to the context and the content that you’re creating. In other words, you can make it a bit more “fun,” if you wish.

Here are some ideas about how to do this:

1. Make it Personal

The goal here is to connect with your audience and simply be you, just as you are in any other circumstance. No need to come off “cold” or unapologetic or too business-like. Make it your Disclosure Policy and make it personal.

You have a unique way of communicating so there’s no need to disrupt that or get rid of it. Your readers are connecting to you in the first place so make sure it can be read exactly the same. This will do wonders for your readers as well as establish the right attitude and rapport as you move toward discussing the ruling, your interpretation, and your focus on your readers as your primary concern.

And besides, who else could you be other than yourself? It’s always fascinating to see how hard we try to be someone else other than ourselves (but that’s another blog post).

2. Focus on Trust

Ultimately your blog is will be a channel communication a strategy that is typically called “Content Marketing”; you’re in the business of writing about businesses, products, services, and more that impact your life and that you like with the understanding that your readers will be influenced by it directly.

They may even purchase or establish relationships with these products and services based on your recommendation and reviews! This is an opportunity for great stewardship and responsibility so you want your readers to trust that you have their best interests in mind, always.

You’ve seen enough blogs out there that are built around nothing more than ego or are so obviously-mercenary in their attempts to “sell you” that you may even be a bit jaded yourself. Bring it back to earth for your readers and visitors, state it plainly that they can trust you, and you’ll receive that goodwill back in spades.

3. Explicitly Mention the FTC

This one is an easy point but it surprises me that a number of Disclosure Policies that I see out there forget it:

I’d recommend even going one extra step and writing a blog post that references your Disclosure Policy explicitly! That was easy. Done and done.

4. Explain the Why

You’re going to want to explain a few things clearly about the reasons why you’re creating a Disclosure Policy in the first place, since many of your readers may not even know what all of this is about. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Explain the benefits of writing one (beyond the obvious “I am required, by law!” benefit.
  • Explain some of the consequences beyond the obvious. Think again about the elements of trust.
  • Explain the value of having a Disclosure Policy, which is ultimately about them as your readers and community.

Here’s the point: Some of your readers really have no idea about issues or regulations like this. Do them a service by walking them through it all both plainly and easily! Don’t make any assumptions about your readers and if you have the time and desire to explain it in detail then do it!

Get them excited about it (if you can!).

5. Have Fun, Be a Bit Entertaining

Some of the best Disclosure Policies that I’ve seen have taken a very fun approach (and personal, see above) and have made me chuckle a bit.

Not only is this memorable but it was easy to see where these bloggers were coming from, how they interpreted the law, and what they were doing about it.

You’ll see a bit of “character” in my Disclosure Policy which is exactly what I want to communicate: I take it seriously but not too seriously to not have fun!

So, do you have a Disclosure Policy? Share links to yours in the comments!

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]