The term disclosure statement sounds boring, dry, like legalese.
It sounds like something complicated, that would be better put off till you have 6 or 8 hours of free-time to dedicate to the project. Or a week.
It’s really not that complicated. It wont take all that much time.
And it’s really important.
This may not be the fun stuff of blogging, but it’s important stuff if you are making a living (or even just trying to cover your expenses) while working on the web. It’s important even if you’re not making money from your blog. Just clear the air so everybody knows where you stand.
The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that bloggers must disclose all compensation received for their work on their blog. This not only for sponsored posts, but all kinds of compensation received for running your blog. This decision is not surprising as the influence of bloggers has increased, along with the opportunities for bloggers to make money using their blog as an advertising medium.
What is a disclosure statement?
A disclosure statement is information provided to readers of your blog that you are receiving, or may receive, compensation for the words you write, for hosing advertising or affiliate links, or for free products or services received in order to write a review.
Having a disclosure policy simply means that you are being straightforward and honest about the information you are presenting on your blog. It is a mark of integrity.
A disclosure statement acknowledges that the words you write on your blog are benefiting you financially, or at least in terms of product and services.
Why do I need a disclosure statement?
If you receive any compensation for your blogging, or even receive free products or services about which you write reviews, then you need a disclosure statements. There are a number of reasons for this:
It’s the law.
You really don’t want to have to pay the fines.
It’s just the decent thing to do, and it makes you look like a professional. Bloggers are influencers. If you are influencing other people, you should reveal what is influencing you. Yes, material gain can be an influence. One of the things we do as bloggers is build trust with our audience. That’s why readers return. This kind of transparency is integral to building trust.
Other posts with great explanations of the disclosure requirement
I wrote my disclosure statement by examining those listed above. I pored over each one, and created a document that covered the requirements, and still reflected a bit of who I am.
If creating your own disclosure statement feels a little daunting, head over to DisclosurePolicy.org. They have a disclosure policy generator. Simply answer a few questions, and they will generate a disclosure policy for you.
Kat would be there, and I trust her judgment (or at least if it turned out to be lame, she’d be an entertaining companion with whom to endure lame), and it was just exactly in my price range: free. Also motivating, I would get to talk to grownups; as a SAHM blogger, that is a rare and precious occurrence. Other mom bloggers to talk to? I’m in.
So I sequestered my paralyzing fear of dentists into a small dark corner in the pit of my stomach, and braved up. After all, it wasn’t like I was going in for treatment, right?
I was still curious about what social media had to do with orthodontics, and I have to admit, there was a part of me that was picturing the requirement to sit through a time-share sales pitch before getting to go one the 2 hour booze cruise. As it turns out, there were no time-shares, and no booze. This all played out before noon on a Saturday morning.
I walked in, said hi, and they took me back to take an impression for my teeth whitening tray. Wait, what? The little ball of fear in my tummy churned a bit. But it was just an impression… quick and easy. No drills, needles, or reprimands about flossing, and the need for more frequent dental visits. I had forgotten that the swag for this little gathering included a custom fit teeth-whitening kit. Awesome!
So what was this all about? What was the orthodontics angle? It turns out that Dr. Molen is quite the savvy orthodontist. He recognizes the power of social media and mom bloggers, and also made the connection that most of his patients have moms or are moms. So if he provided a space for mom bloggers to come together and talk about blogging, maybe they would blog about their experience in his office… Hey, look what just happened here.
Kat put together a great presentation on blogging basics that covered everything from “should you start a blog?” to finding your niche (which I still haven’t done) to monetizing your blog. The discussion came at a timely point for me, because I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I’m making money from blogging. Thanks to her presentation, I think the best choice for me personally is to use my blog as a showcase for my writing, a portfolio of sorts, to generate paid writing opportunities elsewhere, rather than focusing on paid product reviews and advertising. Perhaps I should start proof-reading and using spellcheck as well?
After Kat finished up, Dr. Molen stepped up and took a few moments to dispel some myths about orthodontics. I have to admit that I was holding on to some incorrect ideas about what orthodontics entails. I really thought it was only about straight teeth, I had no idea of the artistry involved, or the impact on the entire face.
I also came away with some specific red flags to keep in mind in case my daughter ever needs orthodontics. I know now to turn and run if any orthodontist wants to fit her with headgear like I wore through 5th and 6th grades.
Are you laughing at that poor 11 year old in the picture? It’s all right, Internets, I embrace my inner awkward.
By far, the best part of the entire experience was the time we had to sit around and chat. There were, I believe, six of us bloggers in attendance, so it was a small enough group to really have a nice chat. I would have enjoyed more time chatting.
I would have enjoyed more time chatting so much that I wonder if other Seattle bloggers would enjoy time chatting in the real world. What do you think? Is anyone else interested in meeting up in a coffee shop for some “Coffee Talk”? (Admit it, you said that in a Linda Richmond/Mike Meyers voice.) No agenda, no presentations, no entrance fee… just bloggers meeting up somewhere in the Seattle area to get a cup of coffee or glass of wine and talk blogs, SEO, parenting, privacy, trolls, and anything else that happens to be on our minds. Is there enough interest to set up a Meetup? What do you think?
I want to send out a big thank you to Dr. Aaron Molen at Molen Orthodontics. Thank you for thinking of us, coming up with a completely original idea, and making it happen. I’d love to see more of this. And to the other ladies in attendance, @youcanstayhome, @improperlykeli, and @BitingMyHand, it was so lovely to meet you!
Yes, I’m the shy girl. You, in the back, that just snorted – I heard that.
People who have known me for a long time may not realize how shy I can be. But the truth is, especially in cocktail hour, conference-type settings, I’m awkward silence girl. These events stir up all kinds of anxieties in me. I sit there and rack my brain trying to think of something to say – and the harder I think, the longer and more awkward the silence gets, which makes it even harder to think of something to say. It’s a deep, and endless spiral. And that’s if I manage NOT to blurt out something stupid, or nonsensical, or inappropriate, or offensive.
Conversing is so different from writing. There’s no opportunity to edit while you are speaking. Time delays are built in to written conversations, and expected, even when chatting or tweeting. But when you’re in a live, real world conversation, all bets are off. You’re out there, on your own, flying without a net.
Wine helps. A little.
More wine helps a little more.
Even more wine helps me nap right where I’m standing.
Unfortunately, most conferences start before the cocktail hour. But seriously, I do need to learn how to participate in a conversation without that kind of lubricant.
How do you do it? How do you keep a conversation going? Even if it’s with someone you’ve been dying to meet for years. Especially if it’s with someone you’ve been dying to meet for years.
How do you bridge the gap between standing alone in the center of a packed room, and walking up to someone, or a group of someones, and saying “hi” – and then what do you say next?
My pulse is racing while I write this. It’s a terrifying prospect for me.
I spent the day Saturday at Bloggy Boot Camp Seattle, which was, in a word, Awesome. But it was also, among other things, a networking event: talking required. I learned a lot – but of course, one of the biggest benefits of such an event is the opportunity to meet other bloggers. That meant sticking my hand out, and walking up to someone to introduce myself. And I did it! Most of the time without tripping over my own feet, or getting too terribly tongue tied.
There were still those moments where I stood in the middle of the room and surveyed groupings of people deep in conversation. What were they talking about? Could I easily join this conversation? Was anyone else also looking for someone to talk to? Or were they, like me, pretending to look busy so they didn’t look pathetic in the middle of the room silently trying to figure out who to talk to and how to start a conversation?
One of the brilliant bits of planning on the parts of the amazing ladies who organized this conference, was assigned seating that changed with each presentation. This meant that every couple hours or so, I was at a different table with a different group of bloggers, and it made it so much easier to make introductions, start conversations, and meet a larger number of people.
And the people who attended this event were just wonderful. From the moment I showed up to check in, an hour late (another story for another time), I was overwhelmed by just how amazing and, more importantly for me, approachable, everyone was. Superstar-blogger MamaKat has been one of my blogging heroes for years, and she got up and gave me a giant hug when we finally met at the conference. JennyOnTheSpot sat down next to me at lunch, and actually got me to talk a bit about myself to the table.
So many amazing people, and I’m still a little start struck and in awe of the entire event.
I learned a lot, too. Not that I have actually applied anything I learned yet. For instance, Danae Handy and MamaKat led an amazing breakout session on writing. They didn’t just tell us to apply the narrative arc to everything we write; they actually showed us how to apply it to a blog post. For instance, this infernal post that you have been reading forever because it just wont end (thank you for sticking with me, by the way) would fit beautifully into a hero’s journey format.
I would be the hero (I like the sound of that), and my quest would be to summon the courage to make more connections (and maybe even friends) at a networking event, the antagonist would be my shyness and insecurities, my allies would be the other amazing people at the blog conference and the speakers who all seemed to do a great job of building my confidence as well.
I would build the story in ever increasing waves of tension as you follow along through my attempts to initiate and navigate through conversations, and triumph with me as I leave the conference with a head full of great ideas, a belly full of wonderful wines, fists full of schwag and the business cards of other bloggers, and most importantly, my confidence through the roof. In the end my anxiety would be vanquished, and I would be the queen of the bloggers (or at least the queen of CoffeeJitters.Net) and then my allies would be rewarded with loads of link love (which I’ll try to do anyway). Those things happened, I just didn’t write the post that way. But I can totally see now how that structure would improve this monstrosity.
See, I get it Danae. I really do. But, I also know myself well enough to know that any thoughts of rewriting this 1000+ word post are little puffs of nothingness that will never happen – especially while I”m in the middle of this 4000 mile road trip. So the post goes up as is.
The conference was worth every penny, and worth every moment of awkwardness. I feel a little more confident in what I’m doing as a blogger, no one bit me or gave me a why-the-hell-are-you-talking-to-me look while I was at the conference, I made some new friends, and now it’s time to put this post to bed and get some sleep. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us tomorrow. The next post will come from 600 to 900 miles away, and maybe from a different country. Not sure yet. We’re flying by the seat of our pants.
I usually beat myself up during the writing process. If every word isn’t perfect as it appears from my fingertips, I get frustrated and want to give up.
I don’t know how many times I heard the above quote at the Write on the Sound writers’ conference last weekend, but it was definitely something I needed to hear. I write, and I write, and then I sit and don’t write because I think I can’t write. What I don’t do is re-write.
I suspect I’m not the only writer that combines this odd mix of arrogance and self-flagellation by thinking my first draft should be good enough, and beating myself up when it’s not. Is there a self help group? A pill? Perhaps I should paint in big bold red letters above my desk: “IT’S JUST A DRAFT!”
I did get more out of the writer’s conference. It was my first one and I’m hooked. I got home and immediately went online to see if there were any more conferences coming up in the area.
And now I’m going to go ahead and hit publish on the first draft of this post. Really, I did learn that lesson. I also know that sometimes you’ve gotta just do it or it will never get done. It’s been a week since I posted anything in here, although I’m sitting on several posts that I’ve been re-writing. Life is a balance folks.