Something I have been passionate about for a very long time, is the need for bloggers to fully disclose if they are getting paid in some way, to write about a company / product / service. Well, yesterday, The United States Federal Trade Commission announced that it would fine bloggers up to $11,000 if they post positive reviews or endorsements, for which they are rewarded in any way, without letting their readers know.
I have three blogs and operate a full disclosure policy on all of them. Like all well-read bloggers, I get offerers pretty-much every day from people, who want to pay me (either money or freebies), if I will ‘just’ write about them, their business or their service in glowing terms. My tech news blog often gets several such offers in one day.
When a blogger is honest enough to declare any gifts they receive, it encourages the reader to trust their content. For example, I found out yesterday that big time blogger Chris Brogan, receives his hosting for free from a well-known hosting provider. The reason I now know, is that Chris openly disclosed this gift in a post he wrote, about the company who give him his free hosting. Sadly, there are no disclosures anywhere about his cross-promotion of products with other top bloggers, which kind of defeats the object of disclosing an affiliate link or sponsor.
That kind of honest declaration, allows readers to place the post in context, of how they feel, knowing about the relationship the blogger has with the company.
The trust of your readers is everything
The importance of trust when developing a successful relationship with anyone, can not be overstated. This is equally true of the relationship between a blogger or content provider and their readers. After all, who wants to read content that you can’t trust?
If you have a commercial blog or website and you want people to trust you and your business, being fully open is essential.