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Disclosure Statement | Affiliate Links

July 30, 2014

I wanted to take a minute to chat with you about my disclosure policy.  In no way is this meant to be a manifesto for bloggers in general. This is a pretty new arena and I have found that everyone is pretty tight lipped about what is going on behind the scenes so I want to make it perfectly clear that this disclosure is meant to be applied to this blog and only this blog.  And of course I realize it's wordy.  Sorry about that.  If you find yourself eye rolling at the length just imagine how my husband feels after I've had two glasses of wine ;)

I have never meant to mislead anyone into unknowingly spending money here.  I think you already know that, but, going forward I will try to follow the new guidelines for disclosure as well as continue a platform of respect for you as readers.   Please know that the actual legal statements regarding disclosure are way above my skill set and that as a "private contractor" I have no one looking over me or guiding me through this process. If you feel anything I say to be untrue or not within the guidelines, I urge you to email me so we can try to sort this out.  It has never been my intention to mislead anyone here and I hope that this post allows for more transparency going forward.

I want to be very clear on one important factor, I will never agree to favorably mention a product or a company that I don't personally endorse in exchange for product or money.  My integrity is worth more than anyone can offer. 

 
I only mention products or companies on my blog (and associated social media) that I love.  In fact, I'd say that I only endorse about 80% of what I am sent for review.  About 20% of the items I am given do not fall into the category of things I would personally purchase so I choose not to include them on my blog at all.  Most often the item isn't really my style once I see it in person or I think it's not worth the price.  I have built my blog around my personal style and is a bag I don't really like worth compromising the value of my opinion both in blog land and in my real life?  Nope.

I don't mention those products publicly because I feel like it's irresponsible for me to put a negative review of an item out there just because it's not for me.  I appreciate those businesses putting themselves out there and trying to spread the word about their products and I respectfully give them my less than stellar feedback in private.  I also only accept about 40% of what I am offered.  You would be surprised (or maybe not) by the amount of requests I receive that I turn down immediately. I also don't feel the need to publicly share which companies or products aren't a good fit for me.  Shockingly, I don't need a pair of Adult Onesies.  No matter their value to others.  But I don't think it's nice for me to do a post on why I won't be wearing them.  I hope that helps to explain why you only see positive endorsements here.

Occasionally you will see that a post is sponsored by a company like this post and this post. That means that rather than send me a specific item with the hopes that I'll like it and publicly talk about it the company pays an advertising rate up front and I get full creative freedom for how I feature them in a post.  The biggest difference from what I just discussed above is that I may choose to purchase a product of theirs for use in the post or not.  Rather than purchasing space as a side bar ad they have purchased a mention in my content.  But all items featured in that post were actually purchased from my bank account.  I'm cheap so you better believe that I like it if I buy it.

I publicly endorse companies and products that I love without compensation all the time so I will include a statement of disclosure when I have been given something for free or am being paid to mention them.  Typically I will state that so and so company sent me this product to review.  In the past I have used the abbreviation c/o which equates to care of.  The FTC finds this misleading so I will no longer be using that.  I will also state when a post is being sponsored up front so you can chose not to read it.  I promise to make a real effort to blend in sponsored content seamlessly so you won't feel like you totally wasted your time by reading.

AFFILIATE LINKS

I participate in reward style (rS) affiliate links.  This means that sometimes I will receive a commission from the products that you purchase at certain websites if you click to that website directly through a link from my blog.  For example, if you click on a link for a pair of jeans from Nordstrom through my blog and you purchase those jeans or perhaps a new dress and some lipstick I will receive a commission.  Your purchase price is not affected AT ALL.  Nordstrom just pays me a finder's fee from their profit margin.  If you click on that link and do not make a purchase, I do not get a commission.  If one million people click on a link but not one person makes a sale then I do not get a commission.  Clicks do not equal compensation.  Purchases do. 

The most often used rS links you see on my blog are from some of my favorite companies that I have been posting about since long before a commission structure existed.  Nordstrom, Serena & Lily, J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, ShopBop, Tory Burch, Lulu & Georgia, and Furbish are just some of my favorite online retailers that I feature here the most often and I do receive a commission if you make a purchase from these sites directly from my blog.  There are many other companies that I work with through Reward Style so please do not take the above examples as the sole source of affiliate links used here. 

Not all links are affiliate links.

Some of my favorite online retailers do not participate in Reward Style but I am still happy to point you in their direction.  For example, Land of Nod, Vineyard Vines, Southern Marsh, High Cotton Ties, and my most favorite candle company, ReWined Candles, do not compensate me when I link to their site even if a million people purchased items directly through my link.  But I will absolutely continue to mention them.  This is where it can get messy for both bloggers and readers alike to differentiate when the "clicks" are enabling me to make a profit.

Bottom Line
I would like for you to be fully aware that the purpose of this blog is not to make money off of you.  However, all monetary revenue from this blog is made through affiliate linking which brings you products at no additional cost and that is why I participate.  While that compensation is beneficial to my family, I will never compromise the integrity of myself or my opinions for any dollar amount.  Any content I bring to you here, both as a possible revenue source or not, will always solely be at my discretion and something I find useful, helpful, pretty or entertaining.  I never want you as my reader to feel that you are being tricked into buying something when you come here or to question my motives.  I really hope this helps clear up any confusion you had about affiliate linking or sponsorships.  Please feel free to email me if you have anything further to add or have questions about anything I've mentioned here. 

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46 comments:

  1. Really well said! xo

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  2. I have no problem with affiliate links - you have done the work to highlight goods products and some of my best purchases have been through blogger's links. Don't know why it would bother anyone!

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    1. Thank you! I feel the same way! I am not ashamed to use them or to help educate my readers about them. I don't want anyone to feel slighted over here :)

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  3. Well spoken Julia, I have no idea about these RS affiliates. Just trying to keep my eye on the design ball here, but you sure are adorable in anything you wear!
    xo Nancy

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    1. Thank you Nancy! And what a well designed ball that is ;)

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  4. Perfectly put! Now, I'm going to be at Pawleys Island this weekend so where should I for unique finds and the best place to eat?!? :)

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    1. BisQuit, Landolfi's, Franks or franks outback, Chive Blossom, the PIT, Bistro. The joggling board! xo

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    2. oh how I could taste the Italian dressing from landolfi's. I am from Murrell's Inlet, living in Columbia now..sadly we go to Charleston more..easier hop.

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    3. YUM!!! And the desserts...... :) I didn't realize you were from MI! How fun! I probably should have pointed her to Marsh Walk too!

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  5. I am proud of you for addressing head-on a topic that so many bloggers are avoiding or defensive about. Bravo Julia!!

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    1. Thank you Ada! I am not ashamed one bit about what I am doing so I don't see any reason to hide it. I think it's always tricky when it's a topic about money and people want to shy away from that discussion altogether. I would too, but it seems that we need to get the business out of the way so I can get back to decorating my old house! xo

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  6. You are a good one for taking the time to put this together. I applaud you! There is so much talk and snark about bloggers making one penny. I really don't get it. Keep doing what you do!

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    1. Thank you girl! I thinks it's great that bloggers have been able to monetize without adding any additional cost to the reader. I don't think what I'm doing is wrong so I see no need to hide it :)

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  7. You addressed this topic perfectly. Thank you for taking the time to explain sponsorships and affiliate links to your readers. It's so refreshing to see such transparency -- such a rarity among the blogging community. In all other professions (I'm a CPA), you're required to be up front and honest about how you bill for services/profit. I completely support bloggers and producers of content being able to benefit from their hard work and influence they have among their readership, as they should -- as long as it's done according to the guidelines that "regulate" the industry. I really appreciate and respect you for being such a great example to your peers (who could take a few notes from you!!).

    I'm afraid that there are some bloggers that do not grasp the concept of honesty. And unfortunately it comes across as disingenuous, even when that's not the intent. The vast majority of blogs I read fail miserably on disclosure of how they make money (some don't even have a disclosure statement on their sidebar!!). The top non disclosing offenders seem completely unaware at how they are damaging the trust they have with readers. With no trust, I can't take any of their product endorsing seriously (and assume they're just trying to make a buck off an unsuspecting reader).

    I will always, always choose to support honest bloggers, and you are at the top of the list! Bravo, Julia!!

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    1. You are welcome! I do highly value my work here and the hard work of my peers and I think it's fantastic that we've found a way to monetize a bit without actually charging the readers for anything. But, it is so important for me to feel that I have done my best to make my readers here fully aware of when money is being exchanged. I don't really think that most bloggers are trying to be deceitful, it's just that this is such a new arena and we tend to only have these types of discussions with other people who are in the know so it seems like very mainstream information when it's actually not. Anyway, I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong so I see no issue talking about it with y'all! Thanks so much for you input! xo

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  8. I completely agree with Emily Anne's comment. It doesn't feel like you are constantly putting reward style links on your blog, but there are others in your circle that do it so much it makes them look so desperate and it's almost embarrassing to read. It's like they are hawking every single thing they can, cheap or highly expensive articles of clothing that even very wealthy people wouldn't waste their money on and it has really soured me on some of the blogs I used to love. I feel like the reward style has really changed some bloggers and their content and it's sad to see because they are losing lots of readers and the "trust value" that Emily Anne mentioned and I don't feel this way about your blog at all! Thank you for bringing it out in the open because sometimes I wonder how in the world some of these ladies can afford to by $200 shirts, $400 purses and "steals" for a shirt that is on sale for $200 and they "purchase" all of the above on a weekly basis!!! I've often wondered if they are being given these articles of clothing, bikinis, baby dresses, hand bags, luggage etc. b/c I can't imagine a middle class woman being about to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on clothing and handbags in a month. And then they conveniently blog about the same product or bathing suit company but never mention any disclosures and think no one notices when all the blogs in their circle are hawking the same company, drink or handbag, etc. It just screams dishonesty and confuses the reader. Another thing that confuses me is when bloggers go "shopping" and just try on a bunch of items of clothing in a dressing room and then link it to the restyle. It seems unfair to the company or store, for the blogger to come in their store with no intention of purchasing anything, yet they are using those clothes they try on to make money in affiliate links. That is another thing I've been wondering about. Do the bloggers disclose this to the store? Just a few thoughts. you are doing a great job and I love your honesty and blog. Sadly, there are others that I've stopped reading or would never purchase anything from there rs style links even if I loved the item. I've heard that once you're logged into that site from their restyle link, that even when you go back a week later, etc. that if you haven't cleared your cookies, that you will still be giving them a commission without even being aware of it. Have you heard this?

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    1. Thanks so much for you input Christine! Make sure you read my reply above as well so you don't miss what I said but I didn't want to just say the same thing :)

      I will add that it's certainly not my place to judge where or how other people spend their money. I think the awesome thing about blogging is the the author creates a little piece of themselves into their posts so each person is going to have a unique set of tastes and circumstance. That being said, I am pretty open about my budget and tastes and on this blog you will always know when something has been comped so you can assume that anything else hasn't been!

      I will also add that I have mixed feelings on these dressing room sessions but not for the reasons mentioned. There is really no disadvantage to it for the business. All companies chose to participate in Reward Style and select their own commission structures. If I were to walk into Anthro and try on an outfit and then liketknowit or rS link it here then Anthro is making more sales. There is a greater chance that more people will walk into that store and buy it or hop online and order it than if I'd never mentioned Anthro at all. t's actually high volume advertising for them for virtually no cost. I think it's the bloggers who should be asking themselves if it's beneficial enough to them, the companies are clearly reaping the highest benefit. Assuming the blogger is disclosing the way the commissions work, of course :)

      As far as cookies go, I honestly have no idea. It really is a new arena that doesn't come with certification or a handbook. I am completely computer illiterate when it comes to anything other than blogger or photoshop. I'm sure if that's a concern for you then clearing things out will keep anything from being stored at any site for any reason, right? Is this the same as history?

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    2. Just saw this reply in my email and just to make myself clear, I wasn't referring to you or your blog in any of this!!!! I think you are great at disclosing and you don't bombard the reader with constant reward style links, etc. I also think it's great that you are getting some commission off the hard work you put into blogging. You've worked hard to build your readership and your content and you SHOULD get paid. That being said, with the cookies thing, I meant that a lot of readers aren't aware of the restyle links, etc. and might not know this. I would gladly go through your links to buy items and would want you to get the commission, but there are some bloggers that I don't feel the same way about because they don't disclose the info. I don't judge the way some people spend their money but it can be hard to relate to a blogger that seems to spend money "celebrity style" but doesn't disclose when they are comped for the item. It makes it hard to trust them if they are obsessed with their new $400 handbag/swimsuit/fill in the blank and then 2 weeks later they are trying to get you to buy another handbag/fill in the blank. I hope I cleared that up. Didn't mean to sound negative. Just a few things I've wondered and you're right about the dressing room stuff. It is great for the company. I guess it just seems a little odd to me to try on an outfit and hint to the reader that you(not you personally) bought the outfit when you were really just trying on a bunch of different ones for restyle links. Hope I cleared that up a little. I might've made it sound even worse! Once again, I wasn't referring or even hinting that this is something you do. I actually had to stop reading those blogs and I still read yours!! I love it!

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  9. Second Emily Anne's comments . You handle everything in such a lovely and intelligent way. Will continue reading and " clicking" via your blog.

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    1. Thank you Rene! I personally thinks it's incredible that bloggers have been able to monetize without adding any additional cost to the reader. I don't feel ashamed of what I am doing so I see no reason not to disclose that :)

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  11. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this as a reader! I hope that your blogging peers read this and take notice. I've been getting so discouraged reading blogs that I used to love, because what was once interesting content has turned into shilling, shilling, shilling through daily "wish lists" loaded with affiliate links. If you are honestly sharing your own recommendations/wish lists once in a while, and fully disclosing, I don't mind at all. I'll read, I'll click through the links, and I may even buy! But I will not support bloggers who blatantly disregard disclosure laws and who try to convince me DAILY that I NEED a $200 blouse in my life!

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    1. Thanks so much for joining the conversation! I don't think that there is anything wrong with monetizing my blog so I don't feel like I have anything to lose with full disclosure! It's not my place to judge how someone else spends their money but if you are spending money here through my blog I do want you to be fully aware of that! xo

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  12. Wow, this sounds like it is a big problem with some blogs. I never figured out how to monetize my blog, and there are such a relatively small number of blogs that I follow, I didn't realize it was such an issue. Good tips, keep up the good work, Julia!

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    1. I'm not sure that it is really a big deal, but the FTC is making it into one so I just wanted to jump in front of the issue and make it clear how things work here on my blog when money is exchanged. Thanks for your comment! xo

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  13. Elegantly put! I am just starting out at blogging and seriously consider your balance between sponsored ads and affiliate links to be really well done! I always feel like you truly endorse the products you talk about and have such a good balance in regards to expense of items and quality!

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    1. Thank you! It is important for me to truly believe in what I endorse whether I'm being compensated or not! I just want to stay in front of my readers to let you know that a paid promotion does show up in this blog from time to time. It's really no different from an actress being the face of a make-up line, that doesn't discourage me from going to see her next movie. I just want to make everyone here aware so no one feels slighted! Thanks for joining the conversation! xo

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  14. Echoing Christine's comments. I like your honesty and responsiveness. You keep it real and wish other bloggers would do the same. Sorry but $200 blouses as steals each week for a stay home mom seems suspicious so thank you for letting people know what's up

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    1. Thank you girl! I will say, however, that I am not trying to throw anyone else under the bus. It's not my place to judge how or where other people are spending their money. I just want to make sure my readers know how it works here on my blog! Thanks for you input! xo

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    2. Agreed! I don't care if a blogger gets compensation for the work that goes into highlighting a great find or spend as they please but I appreciate it when they are up front about how links work etc. So a big thank you for respecting the loyalty of your readers with honesty. You are a class act.

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    3. Thank you and you are very welcome! Xo

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  15. let me make this perfectly clear.. I READ your Blog because I like it!! If you make money of of it..good for you. obviously I read as do others because we ENJOY your content, advice, and or ideas. It perplexes as to why one would read your blog to just PICK IT APART?? People, don't read it if you don't like her style. I love to see pics of your home décor, children and style. Good job and keep up the good work. sickens me that Bloggers have to explain themselves to readers who "chose" to read their blog, not like it is part of their job. Critics need a life!! Just my 2 cents!

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  16. Thank you Beth. I actually think a lot of the new FTC regulations are ridiculous! Certainly not all or as a whole, just a few of the guidelines. I am in no way trying to pull a fast one on anyone but some things are just odd. I love Netflix so I can binge watch shows and not commercials, I get it. But I would personally prefer to see a discreet disclosure in small print at the bottom of the post on the blogs I read in order to still enjoy and skim the content. If I don't like the content I don't have to keep reading or make a purchase through their link! Easy enough :)

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  17. " And of course I realize it's wordy. Sorry about that. If you find yourself eye rolling at the length just imagine how my husband feels after I've had two glasses of wine ;)"

    HA! Everything else aside (and I appreciate your honesty :), this made me laugh! Keep up the good work.

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    1. it probably really should have said, "after evening coffee drinking" ;)

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  18. You mention several times in your replies to comments that you are glad that bloggers have found a way to monetize without adding cost to the reader. Trust me when I say that if a reader has to pay to read a blog, or cost gets added to purchases, then blogs will die.

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  19. Interesting point, I think that's why companies and bloggers are so keen on affiliate links and sponsored posts. I can't imagine many bloggers who would feel worthy of charging readers for sharing their ideas or inspiration. As for advertising on blogs, it's an extremely small part of the marketing budget with perhaps a large payoff to the company. I imagine the cost to work with bloggers collectively is like a drop in the bucket compared to product placements in television and movies or even for print ads. And while those large companies are willing to pay for space, it's the small businesses that truly benefit from this type of symbiotic relationship between business owner and blogger when they are showcased on a large scale. Thanks for your input!

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  20. Interesting that your list of "favorite shops" on your sidebar doesn't contain a single store that isn't involved in RStyle. So authentic.

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  21. I am regular reader of your blog and no doubt it all stuff is awesome. The best thing about your sharing and posting is that you always provide content that is helpful for both the newbie and experts. Looking for more stuff and tutorials.

    Love from Tech Solutions Desk

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