Update 8-29-16: I do not accept sponsored posts from anyone on any topic for any reason. If you email me asking to do a sponsored post, I will not respond as you should have done your homework in advance and have read this.
On December 1 the FTC's new "guidelines" on blogger endorsements go into effect. In their usual style of being as unhelpful as possible, the government left the guidelines fairly vague so each blogger has to figure out what to say, how to say it, and so on. This is my attempt to address the situation.
Soon after this blog was started several years ago (once I actually started earning anything -- that took a few months), I detailed my ad policy on Free Money Finance. That post laid out my philosophy for advertising -- I used ads from Google as well as some other sites/services that I trusted, used, and or recommended and all the proceeds from every sort of ad was given to charity. Since then, my policy hasn't changed, but given the new guidelines I thought this was a good time to restate my position/philosophy so that we're all on the same page:
- I do have ads on the site. There are Google ads that I do not control (ads that they serve that theoretically tie in with the material I've written on the site) on the top left sidebar (listed as "Sponsored Links"). In addition, there are other ads and affiliate program ads (like in the top right sidebar listed as "Site Sponsors") on the site as well.
- In addition to ads, I also use affiliate ads and links. These work as follows: someone clicks on the ad/link, if they like the product or service they buy it, and I get a portion of the sales price. They do not pay a higher price this way -- they simply buy at the going rate and I receive a portion of it for referring them. These are most used in posts I do on books (linking to Amazon), examples being this post (there's a link to the title of the book) as well as this one that links to You Need a Budget. As for credit cards, Free Money Finance has financial relationships with some of the cards mentioned here, and Free Money Finance may be compensated if consumers choose to apply for these links in the content, and ultimately sign up for them.
- Other than the Google ads, I select what goes on the site and what doesn't. I'm fairly selective, sticking to products and services that I either know/use or like/recommended (even though I don't use them.) An example of the latter would be You Need a Budget. I don't use that software since I have my own, self-developed budgeting spreadsheet. But I like what they offer (I've seen their product) and I've had enough positive comments about them from readers that I feel comfortable offering their products here.
- I weed out a lot of the riff-raff. Believe me, I've get lots of offers from all sorts of sites (payday loans, debt consolidation, etc.) as well as text link ad offers that don't work for this site. Basically, if I don't think the ad/affiliate program will benefit at least half of my readership, I don't run it.
- I do actively solicit ads and have developed a policy for them. If you'd like to advertise here and you have a product that would help out my readers, drop me a line. :-)
- All of the money I earn here -- every last penny -- is given to charity. Every year I list what charities the blog has supported (see the bottom of this page for details) and I will continue to do so. So far, we're closing in on $200,000 given to help people out all over the world.
- Of course, I could choose to have no ads at all. But I prefer to have them and use the funds generated to help the needy. That said, you can have been a reader of Free Money Finance for years and never have generated a penny for the site. That's a pretty good value for regular, free personal finance content if I do say so myself. :-)
- If you're "worried" that anything you see here is an ad or isn't, the best policy is to assume it is and handle it as you see best in that light. For the time being, I plan to use this post (which I'll link to from my sidebar) as my general ad notice and not list such on each and every post that has ad/affiliate links (it junks up the posts/site). That said, I may eventually need to include something on every post with an ad/affiliate link in it (which will get quite burdensome). As I noted, it's not clear what the government guidelines do and don't call for, so the future is murky.
And of course, you can always email me with questions, thoughts, comments, etc. if you have any concerns or feedback you'd like to share.
Sorry to take us off the topic of personal finances to deal with the "business" side of the blog. We'll get back to how you can grow your net worth in the next, upcoming post.