What they’re looking for is the ability to generate word-of-mouth advertising. Sometimes it’s really scammy like this attempt to buy posts on this blog, sometimes it’s only slightly sleazy like this example from Grammarly.
But at best – and the way it runs here on my blog – is that you are actually recommending products and services you use and enjoy. And then if someone else uses them because of your recommendation, you get a bit of a kickback. For example, I often use an affiliate link when I mention Dropbox – both of us get some extra free space if you use it – and did when I recently mentioned Namecheap as well. I frequently do this with affiliate programs when I mention, review, or otherwise talk about a product you might want to buy.
Or maybe you got a review copy, or a discount to try a product (see, again, Grammarly).
All of these are Material Connections. It doesn’t matter if you think you should disclose these or not – you are required to by FTC 16 CFR Part 255. You can read a lot more about it on the FTC’s website, but here’s the tl;dr:
You have to disclose those kinds of connections up front.
And I do. At the footer of the blog is this text:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the posts above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This, to the best of my knowledge, counts. And you are required to have something like it.
I’ve had folks ask me if they can use or modify the text of that before, and I’ve gladly granted that permission. I’m going to explicitly say this now: My disclosure of material connection text (the “work”)
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of the above disclosure of material connection text (the “the Work”), to deal in the Work without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Work, and to permit persons to whom the Work is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
THE WORK IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORK OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE WORK.