Full Disclosure – Assume The Position

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When I see Adam Sandler pimp Popeye’s Chicken or Subway I assume he is getting paid for it.

When I watch The Office, Heroes, Lost or any other tv show and see product placements I assume they are getting paid for it.

When I read an affiliate marketers blog and I see links to anything I assume they get paid for it.

In fact every time I see a blog post or basically anything including conversation I assume someone is benefiting from mentioning the product they are talking about. Even if they are not paid directly for reviewing or mentioning the product directly I assume they are hoping the users find the information useful or maybe even the product owner will see the review and pay them in the form of mentioning them back or advertising on there site.

The world is about kickbacks. Maybe my mindset is just jaded from my experiences and exposure.

So basically my disclosure policy is you should assume I am getting paid for or will get paid for anything I ever mention. To be perfectly honest with you almost every advertiser I have is because I mentioned them then they contacted me after the fact because they liked the traffic they received from being mentioned.

I think these blogger disclosure policies while noble and all that good stuff are extremely silly. Everyone gets paid one way or another.

99 thoughts on “Full Disclosure – Assume The Position

  1. randfish

    Jeremy – I’ve never been paid to blog anything, never gotten a kickback on a referral of clients or services, and never made the automatic assumption that any other blogger has either (except with you). I do think it’s about having different experiences :)

  2. ShoeMoney

    Rand- I beg to differ. I think you do benefit from posting. You sell services so the best information you can give your people they will think they can get that much more of a service by subscribing to your premium subscription. Also you sell SEO services and other stuff and again I am making no bones about it but to say your blogging is not motivated is just not true. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that but lets be honest.

  3. TylerC

    I have never been paid to blog for anything…. I did it purely for the love/interest of the topics I write about.

    Or mabey its just because I have not gotten big enough to make money yet :)

  4. Hamlet Batista

    I think Rand and Shoe are seeing the same apple from different angles. Everybody that blogs benefits from it. Directly like Shoe or indirectly like Rand.

    The point of disclosing or not is not whether you benefit from it or not. It is whether the reader can see an endorsement or an ad. We don’t trust ads the same way we trust endorsements.

  5. Geordie

    This blog and others like it are about internet marketing and making money online. Learning how to effectively monetise traffic is why people read this in the first place. It’s completely different than those individuals or companies who blog as part of a customer communications strategy or branding exercise. As long as the reader finds value in what’s being discussed, it’s fair game. We have to give readers some credit that they will be able to determine a bullshit, no-value cash grab product suggestion vs. an actually useful resource. If the blogger seeds his material with too much garbage he’ll lose his audience anyway, and then the whole point is moot. The readership decides what is of value to them, if they don’t find it, they just move on.

  6. jim

    I think it’s stupid when someone puts a marker next to affiliate links as if the reader isn’t astute enough to realize that the writer will be benefiting… money makes the world go round.

  7. Matt Coddington

    Amen. Blogging isn’t about 12 year old emo girls publishing their poetry anymore, it’s its own media outlet and is just as commercial as any other. People need to get that through their heads.

  8. Mark

    I have nothing against getting paid/benefits for mentioning a product which the blogger finds good. If it isnt’t good or there are no reasons to mention that, he will lose credibility.

    And ads usualy are not about good/cheap products, instead they are mostly overpriced.

  9. Linda Tong

    I would have to agree with you Jeremy. Everyone benefits somewhere, somehow. Even in blogging or a website.
    You hit it on the nose about “Everyone gets paid one way or another.”, even in traffic if mentioned in a blog.

  10. Ben Bergmann

    Couldn’t agree more on this… blogging is all about getting publicity.

    And more visitors == more money. At least in the market we’re all in.

  11. Nm

    I had already assumed that and that’s the reason I don’t take any of your recommendations seriously! It’s all about putting money in YOUR pocket, not ours.

  12. perse

    wow you are a absolute sucker if you think any blogger ever writes for the sake of writing. At least shoe is being honest about it.

  13. Sockmoney

    My only issue with non-disclosure is when a blogger is promoting themselves as an unbiased product reviewer. If they are getting paid to post a “positive” review, then I want to know that, since it helps me realize the review is basically crap.

    I don’t care if they are getting paid to post an unbiased review… Since it takes time and effort to do the review… you should get paid for it.

  14. Derrick

    It would be great if there was an unbiased central ‘authority’ which could rate blog posts on their degree of bias. Bloggers could disclose every benefit they get (or expect to get) from each post they make.

    A simple rating system could be devised based on the blogger’s track record, the amount of traffic the blog gets, the blogger’s earnings from paid reviews, the degree of positivity about a product compared with, say, 10 other reviewers…

    In the interests of full disclosure, then, I’m posting this comment so that I get a link from Jeremy’s blog, thus luring a trickle of his traffic to my blog where they’ll buy stuff.

  15. Frank Michlick

    Non-disclosure mainly becomes a problem if you end up endorsing something in order to get paid for it. It gets worse if it is a product that you have never really tried, or didn’t even like.

  16. Get Poor Quick!

    Shoemoney paid me $3248 for posting this positive review of him here:

    “I love Shoemoney. Shoemoney is the best. I am naming my firstborn Shoemoney.”

    Personally, I think he got hosed on the deal.

  17. CatherineL

    Most blogs are monetised. But, some of them, I think, are as compulsive as those forum posters who whinge about everything under the sun. Probably none of their family will listen to them anymore, so they blog instead.

  18. Patrick

    There has to be some type of benefit, why are you blogging then? It may not be money…. but you are doing it for some reason… are you getting entertainment out of it? Benefit of sharing?

  19. Octoprofit

    I’m blogging to learn how to blog. I’m posting the steps as I go through them. It’s not necessarily about the money….yet.(that said, if anyone sees something I missed, feel free to tell me =0)

  20. Bill

    I couldn’t agree with you more–if a company or product or service is mentioned specifically on a blog and the blogger or site owner doesn’t have anything to do with that company (i.e., they don’t work for them), then there must be some sort of motive. One motive that you didn’t specifically mention is a link back to the site somehow–especially when it comes to bloggers and blogging. You’re right when you say that there’s got to be some other motive, though.

    There are a few select bloggers out there that just blog because they want to do it. But how many really do end up talking about specific companies, products, or servies?

    But, there’s really no reason to have to disclose anything nowadays, though.

  21. Ali

    Everyone is in it for some benefit, and the only way humans can benefit with anything in this world is through money. That’s just the way the world is.

    Sure we like our “Thank You’s” but I’m sure hardly anyone who has read this doesn’t blog for charity. If you do, kudos to you mate.

  22. Ali

    Haven’t you heard, “Believe only half of what you see, and nothing of what you hear” of course I’m talking about blog posts in this context.

    That doesn’t mean I lie, that just means you need to be careful – that’s all.

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  24. randfish

    Whoa! Wait a minute. There’s a huge difference between saying – “everyone is blogging out of self-interest or business interest” (which I would totally agree with) and saying – “I assume someone is benefiting from mentioning the product they are talking about.” That’s what you said. That’s what I’m disagreeing with, not that my blogging or anyone else’s isn’t business motivated.

    I link to a lot of your stuff, and I certainly hope that my readers don’t think to themselves “Shoe’s giving Rand a nice kickback for that.” This is my point.

  25. Tania

    Darn Matt,
    I started my blog with that pure notion – to make it my online diary, but then I started to read all these other blogs that corrupted me…yours included!

  26. fivecentnickel.com

    However, flagging something as an affiliate link might (?) make people more likely to use the link. Probably not for the unwashed masses, but in my case I usually go looking for an affiliate link if I’m about to drop some cash online.

  27. Scott Yang

    This is just silly. Yes, there is a rational behind every action, but it is not the point of full disclosure. You don’t see people writing a blog post saying “Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by my good feeling”, do you?

  28. Dave Starr --- ROI Guy

    Very interesting and so predictable … the very first comment to the post is a “denial of pecuniary interest” … which I believe about as much as the moon being made out of green cheese.

    My view … write what you want and get paid for what you want. Everyone is getting paid in some way, just like people buying links on JC’s blog for the price of a beer. They are getting a darn good ROI out of thos ebeers, too.

    Disclaimers and discussion don’t work … the average surfer is so clueless that “Google” is still among the very top searches on Google every day … so you can write what you wish and they won’t bother reading anyway.

  29. Shane

    I was just introduced to you today by John Reese and the interview you did with him recently. Great stuff.

    I appreciate your honesty with this post, that’s hard to find these days with people on or offline. I’ll be bookmarking your site and look forward to future posts.

    Take it easy,
    ~Shane

  30. Moe

    Screw disclosure!

    When your at Shoe’s level, you can monetize just about everything. It’s just like any arena in life. Sports, actors etc. He is a internet celebrity and he can push products. Shoemoney is an intellectual property that he is building with this blog. Plus this is all new and being tested by pros like Shoe so when we give it a go, it will be much easier.

    Moe
    blastyourass.com

  31. CPA Affiliates

    I agree completely people are always looking for something back. no matter what it is or where it is… always assume someone is on the take untill proven other wise ;)

  32. Don@AffiliateWatcher

    If our blogs were never ranked by a search engine, if we never knew whether or not anyone read them, if we never knew how many people visited our blogs, if we never made money or received a benefit from them other than believing someone read them, I wonder how many of us would actually still do it? Not many I suspect.

    Don

  33. Side-Line

    Here’s a thought: perhaps that all those people complaining about paid posts are actually not getting much traffic, hence why they are a tiny bit jealous?

    Just a thought :)

  34. Derek

    Well, probably lots would. Except 99.8% of all blog postings would be bitching, rants, moans, groans, complaints, gripes, etc. The other .2% would be made up of newbies trying to make money that don’t know any better, and 13 year old emo girls publishing their poetry. (Them too, likely thinking they’ll get it in print one day and get rich.)

  35. cash advance

    I agree with this post . Everyone knows that nowdays blogging is a job for which you get paid. For some people its full time and for some part time and money with fun for few.

  36. Noah Robinson

    Wow, so basically, you’ve decided that (a) your thoughts and ideas posted are for sale for any price you deem worthy; ( b) there’s no reason to make specific disclosures about whether you’re influenced here or there cause you’re ALWAYS influenced.

    You are a smart guy but have no understanding of why journalism ethics is important and exists. It’s not my place now to try and educate you…you can do what you wish. http://www.nytco.com/company-journalism-ethics.html#a3

    But anyone that reads your blog, in the past, or moving forward, should know that your statements are most likely biased in some way to make you more money. You’re not here to help others, you’re here to make others think you’re helping them, while simultaneously, making money off that advice…even if it’s not the best advice that would help others.

    Basically you’ve undercut the very authority and credibility that you’ve worked so hard to build up.

    I think you ought to reconsider this one…

  37. Paul Bradish

    “I think these blogger disclosure policies while noble and all that good stuff are extremely silly. Everyone gets paid one way or another.”

    I agree with this and to be honest most of us wouldn’t be doing it if we weren’t getting anything out of it.

  38. Noah Robinson

    Here’s an example to make the point clear. Azoogle and MediaWhiz have obviously invested a ton in Shoemoney. Azoogle sponsors your shows, buys you a dope computer, etc). MediaWhiz is your partner on AuctionAds.

    Say that Azoogle does something bad, that normally, you might say something about. Will you publish your thoughts…knowing full well that doing so could jeopardize your relationship with, or income from Azoogle. Would you publish it?

    My instincts tell me you might…you seem to have a knack of calling things how you see them…but the fact is, you have too much to gain/lose by posting your honest thoughts. Not sure if you would tell the truth in the same way that you might if you didn’t have personal gains/losses at stake.

    Any reader that just assumes you’re playing it honest on subjects where there is a potential conflict of interest is pretty foolish. There’s too much at stake to trust your words on affiliate marketing firms.

  39. Success Online

    You have internalized marketing at it’s best. It’s all the time and everywhere. Kickbacks are another way of saying thank you and a sure sign of appreciation for the valuable product or service that was mentioned or advertised!!!

  40. Bryan

    Semantics….
    You both have blogged about our product and I can’t remember paying you anything. Thanks for the traffic though. ;-)

  41. BlastYouAss.com

    I think many would cut down their blogging activities down to one post a year if that were the case.

    Moe
    BlastYourAss.com

  42. Pete Wailes

    I’m gonna leap in here, and say that you’re both on the money here. As usual, it’s more a shade of gray.

    @Rand: Whilst you may not have gone out with the intention of getting things from mentioning someone, I’ll bet you still get it, even if it’s just a link from whoever you’re talking about. People want to reciprocate when you do something nice for them. Now, you may not go out with the intent to get good stuff back, but the fact is it’ll happen anyway.

    @ Shoe: Shoe man, I respect the hell out of you, but I’m with Rand here. Not everyone is planning on getting something out of a blog post or mention. As I said above, it’ll probably happen anyway, but that’s not nec. why someone is going to do it. Have a little faith in the human race. I know it’s hard, but… :p

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  44. ToddW

    Who cares if people know it’s an affiliate link or not if it’s something they want they will get it or signup anyway… all the better if the refer gets in on some of the $.

    It’s not like Jeremy is out spamming crap with his ref. id.

  45. jim

    I agree, there are certainly stupid people but then they won’t benefit from seeing (aff) next to a link anyway, rihgt?

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  47. SEO Blog

    An interesting question that this brings up is people’s willingness to click through and/or purchase via a link clearly labeled as an affiliate link. Just using my own behavior, if it’s a site or blog I frequent, I’ll seek out their aff links to use. If I’ve just come across the site and see the aff link, chances are all I’ll avoid it. I don’t know that it really matters whether it’s disclosed or not.

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  52. Carsten Cumbrowski

    Not everybody is getting paid, but almost everybody who’s blog is actually being read by people. Maybe he wasn’t when he started the blog, after you get enough attention, you will be eventually.

    I am not allowed to use affiliate links on ReveNews or SearchEngineJournal, which I try to understand (without success so far). I the fact that a link is an affiliate link would make me start writing crap, fire me :).
    I am not complaining too much, because I get other benefits out of it, which help me financially indirectly (and virtually impossible to track and measure).

    However, it hurts me to see those links that could be affiliate links, if not mine, then the affiliate link from the blog owner, I don’t care, just don’t let it go to waste hehe.

  53. Carsten Cumbrowski

    Rand, if people want to think that you link to Shoe and that Shoe will give you a nice kickback for that, they will think that if you like it or not.

    Remember the A-List blogger discussion? Helping each other out with linking to each other and create a elite circle? I have no idea where that came from, but some people believe that and there is nothing you can do about it.

    A blog is something personal for me, so you get me, the good stuff and the bad. Think what you want, but I won’t mutate something personal into something full of legal gibberish to repel people.

    If you want to communicate cold corporate messages, write a press release or a whitepaper and don’t use a blog. Simple as that.

  54. Patrick

    No, you don’t, but that isn’t my point. People blog for a reason, in one way or another. How about this, give me an example where someone blogs for no reason.

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