Affiliates: How to avoid $11,000 FTC fine

I cannot tell a lie: they’re paying me.

Here’s a way to tell you’re getting paid for your positive statements (and avoid the risk of a fine of up to $11,000 for not disclosing payments)

Thanks to commenter Lucy in St. Thomas for this.

Harlan Kilstein, an affiliate marketer, used an affiliate link in his email, to direct readers to a (very good) program that copy-writing teacher John Carlton offers:

“The good folks at the FTC require me to disclose that I am an affiliate for the Simple Writing System and that John Carlton will compensate me if you purchase this system. I was provided a copy of this system to evaluate and it has my highest recommendation.”

Lucy adds, “Fresh, honest and leaves me feeling positive about Harlan! So this might work in our favor, me thinks!”

This statement does not detract one iota from the authority and value of Harlan’s good words about John’s program.

Any other fun and cool ways to disclose payments for stuff you are reviewing positively, and selling? Comment below. I will include your contact information if you like.

P.S. I didn’t see Harlan’s email, but it looks as if he posted it at the end of whatever positive review he wrote. He could also begin his email with it, and end the above para with, “and here’s why…”

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Since you have written no positive words proclaiming the greatness of the product, it cannot be said you are endorsing it expressly. But implicitly, you are.

    With just a link and no flowery words, I suspect this will not grab the FTC's attention first.

    I will ponder.

  • Kim,

    As a consultant, I need to be extra careful. So, on my anti-virus guidebook site, I say this: "Here's a spot where I review and provide links to software and information to help you with virus detection, removal and prevention.

    I'll help support your efforts with these products as I utilize them in my consulting practice on a regular basis. I personally select these products because they work. These companies compensate me when you purchase through the links on this page and my affiliate relationships help support this site. I appreciate it when you order the stuff you need from my site!"

  • I've added the following to the top fold of my blog. There is no way anyone could miss it and it shows I'm 100% upfront about all the affiliate programs and product reviews I write about. Yes I did copy a bit from Harlan's message ๐Ÿ™‚

    Attention Please — Important Message ๐Ÿ™‚
    "The good folks at the FTC require me to disclose that I am an affiliate for Whole Food Nation
    and that WFN will compensate me if you purchase the POPS, BIG B or ER FAT BURN program from me."

    Also, from time to time I will be provided a range of healthy food products to evaluate
    so I will give my honest reviews or recommendations. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for reading — Robin Plan

    P.S. I also get a few cents here and there when you
    order a book or maybe grass fed beef from my site ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Kim: I've been following, with interest, your updates on this subject. While I have no issue with transparency, I think the market does a much better job rewarding it than the gov't does at forcing it. Yet another huge bureaucratic mess has been created that causes more friction in the economy instead of less. Force tons of regs on US automakers and manufacturing naturally flows to countries with less regs. All this FTC "goodness" only slows down those of us in the US while we try to figure out what new thing we need to do in order to keep our bureaucrats from bashing in our doors. And it has no effect whatsoever on the blog spammer from Hungary.

    Anyway, I just read a great article at PC Magazine on this subject.

    (Full disclosure: I have no connection with the guys at PC Magazine except that they have earned my respect over time so I read them regularly…no FTC guidelines needed to aid in the formation of that relationship.)

    I suspect the guidelines will be somehow overturned. So the thing that bugs me most is the wasting of all this energy and productivity in the meantime.

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