Posts Tagged ‘ftc’
There are as many reasons to get into blogging as there are people with blogs. Heck, some folks (myself included) try to maintain more than one blog for various niches and specializations.
Regardless of what inspired you to start blogging, chances are you’ve considered monetization and long-term earning potential as reasons to maintain active updates.
Earning money through blogging is a fantastic way to allow your hobby to pay for itself, perhaps even building into a lucrative income.
Before you hop on the monetization bandwagon,however, there are a few things you should know about the rules, regulations, and guidelines in place to protect consumers and bloggers alike. Essentially it all boils down to being completely transparent about any sources of income connected to your blog. Whether your opinion on a topic could result in commission to you if a sale is made, or if you’re just raving about something you’ve purchased because you love it and want the whole world to know, you must inform your audience. Read More
As a blogger, for the vast majority of your readers, you are just a virtual presence, someone that they know solely through their words, videos and other media. It’s the nature of the Web that, unless you do a lot of touring and conferences, for most you’ll just be a name/face on the computer screen.
But while that’s just a part of being on the Web, it is something of a limitation we all face as well. People, for the most part, don’t form emotional bonds with people that they don’t talk to and don’t see in person. This is part of why many seem to care so little what happens to others they meet over the Web but, on the flip side, it means that people are very slow to trust others online.
But, as a blogger, trust is essential. If people don’t trust you, your site and your information, they aren’t going to become recurring visitors, they aren’t going to participate in your site and they won’t link to you or otherwise spread the word about what you are doing.
Without trust, your blog is almost nothing. But while earning trust online requires tons of hard work, dedication and consistency in producing high-quality content, losing it is simply a matter of making one fatal mistake.
One of the easiest ways to lose earned trust is to fail to properly disclose any freebies, gifts or relationships that may have influenced your opinion. Once people believe your views to have been tainted, it is almost impossible for you to regain that trust.
However, this is a pitfall that goes beyond the trust of your readers and, thanks to recent guidelines, also becomes a legal issue. Failing to disclose conflicts, especially repeatedly, could land you in hot water in the U.S. and do far more than ruin the hard work you’ve put into your blog.
Reviews are one of the best types of post for a blog. If done well, they are very search-friendly, extremely useful to your readers and can be great conversation starters for building comments.
However, a review done poorly can be a pretty big mess. Not only can it create a great deal of needless controversy and headache, but it can actually discredit your site and, in extreme cases, create legal troubles.
Though angry and misanthropic reviews are all the rage in many circles, especially with older video games and movies, they are primarily comedy shows that aren’t intended to give a true review of the content. Most people, in those cases, know the subject material to be bad, it’s just a matter of how much so.
Writing a review for the purpose of informing and drawing conclusions can, at times, be a delicate act but pulling it off is one that your readers will appreciate. Balanced, thorough and honest reviews are still surprisingly rare on the Web and when people are making purchasing decisions, they seek those out.
So how do you make sure your review actually helps your readers? The answer is to plan it out carefully and take the time to do ensure you have everything you need inside. Read More
This is a guest post by Brad Leclerc, who can be found at BradLeclerc.com
The FTC is gearing up to extend it’s regulatory powers into the blogosphere, and I, for one, think it’s excellent news…sorta.
You may have read something about it in the last couple days, but if not, here’s a snippet from an Associated Press article on the issue:
Savvy consumers often go online for independent consumer reviews of products and services, scouring through comments from everyday Joes and Janes to help them find a gem or shun a lemon.
What some fail to realize, though, is that such reviews can be tainted: Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all.
The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers â€” as well as the companies that compensate them â€” for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
On the face of it, they are essentially planning to crack down on false claims and undisclosed benefits (financial or otherwise) that a blogger might get due to their posting something about a product/service/etc, whether it’s in the form of an actual monetary payment, or some free stuff, or whatever else, as well as certain types of scam and “fake” websites that only exist to post affiliate links and other ads and pass them off as unbiased.
That is a good thing, in my opinion. Though I, like many others it seems, really don’t think the FTC will be taking the right approach. It seems sloppy and practically unenforceable to go after bloggers directly for the most part.
The reason I say it’s practically unenforceable is simply this: There is usually no way for the FTC to know if a blogger has a conflict of interest or undisclosed benefit to posting something unless that blogger has mentioned it on the blog…in which case it would have been disclosed, and so wouldn’t be an issue.
A much better way to go about fighting this problem would be to target the people and companies giving out the money and other benefits, instead of the bloggers themselves.
Arron Wall has an awesome post about just how sloppy and useless the FTC’s apparent approach to the problem is, called “FTC Going After Bloggers = Epic Fail“. He outlines a lot of examples of just how silly “bottom-up” enforcement of these problems is, and I completely agree with them. They need to “follow the money”, so to speak, and hit the problem head on at the source.
I’m sure it’ll have SOME effect (including likely harassment of a lot of perfectly innocent bloggers), but I don’t think it’s likely to actually help anything very much. It would be MUCH more helpful for these new regulations to target the sources of the services/products/etc that are instigating (or at least knowingly allowing) fraudulent and/or misleading content to be posted on their behalf, and paying for it.
This could be a really good way of fighting some of the more serious spam and deceitful content online if done right, but sadly I have serious doubts that the FTC is up to the job.