Disclaimer: Cat was purchased with my own money (Just kidding, lol! P.S. She was rescued)
Hi, lovelies! Today I just wanted to candidly chat about a few random beauty/blogging things. (It’s a long one so feel free to go grab a drink!) As you may have noticed, I recently started adding a disclosure at the beginning of my posts. This is because the FTC regulations for blogs were updated on March 2013. This only affects U.S. blogs. Here’s what it’s all about:
What does that mean for U.S. bloggers? What is the new disclosure policy?
Well, there were a few changes. I recommend reading this post if you’re interested in the full details. I’ll go over the most important ones here: 1. Affiliate links are now considered advertising. This means you must disclose when a post includes affiliate links or if your blog uses them. 2. Disclosures/disclaimers must now be placed before links. This means that if your post contains any links, your disclosure must be visible before those links. The FTC requires this because they don’t want the reader to leave the blog before finding out if the post was sponsored or if the blogger received the product for free. Here’s an excerpt from the post linked above:
“In the example, a blogger received a product for review and disclosed that at the end of her post. The FTC noted that the disclosure was insufficient because several links appeared before the disclosure. Because those links could distract the reader to another source before he or she read the disclosure, the disclosure was insufficient. To remedy the matter the blogger should move the disclosure to a more prominent position in the post, before the links.”
The FTC also says that scrolling shouldn’t be necessary to see a disclosure (which is why they favor disclosures at the beginning of posts).
How do I go about disclosures and PR samples on The Beauty Milk?
Honesty and transparency are important aspects for my blog. So far, I have only posted about products I’ve received from companies twice (my Neutrogena post and my SkincareRx post). In my opinion, it shouldn’t matter if the blogger got the product for free or not, that doesn’t make the product any better or any worse. Reviews should be honest. Sadly, I see the necessity for disclosure regulations because some bloggers are afraid to say negative things about a product for fear of not being sent anything else from the company. (I’m not saying all bloggers or most bloggers do this and I am not calling anyone out.)
What do I think about the new FTC disclosure guidelines?
I won’t judge anyone else’s choices. I won’t stop reading a blog just because they knowingly don’t follow FTC guidelines or because most of their posts are sponsored. I won’t hold it against them either. I just want to read about new beauty products or makeup looks. Everyone discloses in their own way, it’s not something that would make me un-follow them. However, if every single post is sponsored and products never have any negative qualities, I will become wary of that person’s recommendations.
Are the new FTC disclosure guidelines exaggerated?
In my opinion, they’re a bit much. I understand they’re important because they’re meant to protect the consumer. We should have the right to know if someone was paid to mention a product on Twitter, YouTube or a blog post. Also, there are ones who try to hide or “go around” disclosures. To me, that’s dishonest. However, I see nothing wrong with disclaimers at the end or marked with asterisk annotations. Consumers (myself included) would benefit from making informed purchases. I think it’s our responsibility (not the bloggers’) to read disclosures and reviews thoroughly. I think that it’s my own problem if I click away from a post before reaching the disclosure. As long as they’re visible, it’s fine with me.
Why does this make me feel uncomfortable?
I feel like the new FTC guidelines make blogging too serious and business-like for me. To me blogging is about fun, I don’t want to be worrying about whether or not I’m complying with the law! I know FTC regulations on a blog aren’t that serious, they’re not going to hunt down every site that isn’t properly disclosing, lol. Yet they’re still important, especially for full-time/part-time bloggers, people who want to work in the beauty industry, people who want to monetize their blog, etc.
Why is this required for bloggers/websites and not other media like magazines?
While reading a few posts on the topic of the new FTC disclosures, I read that the FTC requires disclosures for bloggers and not for magazines because “bloggers are expected to be honest.” So, magazines can recommend a bunch of makeup just because the company paid them to simply because they’re expected to be full of product placements? It’s no secret that a magazine’s “hot list”, “get the look” or “editor’s picks” articles are full of paid mentions and press samples they haven’t even tried. (This generalization doesn’t include all magazine, mainly the “bigger” ones.) Yet when I first started buying magazine’s as a teenager, I naively believed the products shown were honest recommendations by people who actually tested them out. I think magazines should also be expected to be honest but that’s a whole different story that involves many social aspects.
Other random bits:
+ Sometimes I’m secretly afraid that someone will try a product I raved about and think it sucks, haha! Then I remind myself that makeup can be subjective. Especially foundation, primers, and skincare. They work differently on everyone.
+ Do any of you remember when the brand Hard Candy used to be high-end and sold at Sephora?! Did you get to try their products before they moved to Walmart? I was thinking about that recently, haha.
+ Reading comments is one of my favorite aspects of blogging! I’ve wanted to implement more reader interaction on my blog but I don’t know if it’s something you would respond to (or be interested in). I really want to do a weekly beauty question (like a beauty survey question) because I love reading your opinions and experiences. Please let me know if that’s something you’d like to participate in :).
If you read this entire post you deserve a medal and some cookies! Also, let me know your thoughts on blog disclosures and FTC guidelines below. Do you agree with the new guidelines? Or are you indifferent to them and disclosing in general?