The 3 Golden Rules To Sponsored Content Disclosures – With Picture Examples

Apr 14, 2014 — Sarah Ware, 4 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The following is required reading for all Markerly bloggers. To join Markerly’s blogging network click here.

Sponsored content is a great way for bloggers to partner with great brands and introduce cool new services and products to their readers. However, sponsored content is an advertisement and needs to be treated as such.

There are many different ways that bloggers can disclose sponsored content so that they are compliant with all FTC rules and regulations, which we will lay out in this post. We’ll also show you how to make sure that you are being compliant with adding no-follow links to blog posts that are sponsored.

The 3 Golden Rules:

1. Short disclosure and long disclosures

2. The proper way to disclose on social media

3. How to make your links no follow links

Blog Posts

The simple rule is that if you receive monetary compensation, free products, or free services such as a free meal or trip, then that must be disclosed to be compliant.

Short Disclosures

Short Disclosures are mandatory and must be included on every single post that is sponsored. The simple rule of thumb is to make sure that you are being as clear as possible.

Example 1:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 2.36.09 PM.png

Example 2:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 2.38.32 PM.png

Example 3:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 2.40.42 PM.png

Long Disclosures

Most bloggers include a page where they have the long version of their disclosure policy stated that they link to in their short disclosures for the sponsored content. Here is an example of what a long-version disclosure policy looks like and the types of information to include if you decide to create a long version of your own disclosure policy.

Example 1:

Example 2:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.33.05 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.33.18 PM.png

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube

If part of your agreement with the sponsored content is to tweet about it or post to Facebook or Instagram, either including a link or not, you must disclose that as well. Only the hashtags #ad or #sponsored are accepted by the FTC. You must disclose on every social media platform. 

If someone else shares your post to social media platforms they do not need to disclose it as sponsored. The person who receives payment must – aka you. The only instance that a person who reads or shares your content must disclose that it is sponsored is if there is a direct benefit from sharing – such as being entered into a contest (see Pinterest).


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 2.44.01 PM.png


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 2.45.49 PM.png


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.02.14 PM.png



If you are running a Pinterest sweepstakes, where users are entered into a contest or have some sort of direct benefit as a result of pinning an item it must be disclosed. Read about how the FTC investigated Cole Haan for not instructing users participating in their  Pinterest sweepstakes contest to disclose the pins and boards as sponsored.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.01.53 PM.png


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.21.47 PM.png

No-Follow Links

A no-follow link must also be appended to all sponsored content in order for the content to be compliant with Google regulations. Not doing so many result page rank penalization for either you or the brand sponsoring the content, so this is very important.

There are two kinds of links, a follow-link and a no-follow link.

A follow link is used on any content that is not sponsored and helps companies increase SEO because it is organic.

A no-follow link must be appended to content that was paid-for because Google does not want companies to be able to buy an increase in page rank to their page. There are two ways to do this.

Option 1: No Follow Plugin

The easiest way is to install a no-follow plugin into your wordpress so every link that you make you have the option to make it a no-follow.Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.15.58 PM.png

Option 2: Manually Insert

If you don’t have a no-follow plugin all you have to do it add: rel=”nofollow” to the link. Here is how you do it:

Step 1: Make the link Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.11.06 PM.png

Step 2: Click on Text in the right hand cornerScreen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.10.58 PM.png

Step 3: Add the rel=”nofollow” to the linkScreen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.11.22 PM.png

All in all, participating in sponsored content campaigns are a great opportunity, just remember the golden rules of disclosure and no-follow and you’re good to go! Happy blogging! 

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