Disclose This!

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Last year, the blogosphere lit up when the FTC issued new disclosure guideliness.

“OMG,” everyone said, “This is soooo unfair! Now everyone’s going to know when we’re pimping other peoples’ stuff. And, we’ll have to tell them we don’t actually pay for any of the books we review.” Bloggers were running around trying to figure out the best way to make their disclosures without being too “in your face” or blatant.

And, I guess it’s not surprising to you guys, by now, that I decided to take a different approach.

Maybe it’s because I’ve pretty much always disclosed this stuff anyway. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been very vocal about the fact that I believe any blogger who offers value to a community over time is entitled to find creative ways to generate income.

Whatever the reason, instead of being offended or mortified, I decided to take the new disclosure guidelines as an opportunity to have some fun and create some provocative, funny content while doing right by the regs.

Instead of burying or tap-dancing around my disclosures, I decided to “Onion-ize” and feature them.

And, in doing so, the disclosures themselves have generated nearly as much commentary and sharing as the “real” content.

Here are 3 examples from recent posts…

From Delivering Happiness: Inside the Mind of Zappos’ Tony Hsieh:

[FTC Disclosure – In case you didn’t get it from the fact that I said I was given both copies of the book…I was given both copies of the book. Didn’t pay a dime. Nothing. Zippo. Nada. And, I was asked to share my honest opinion about it. I should also probably disclose that Tony’s company sells shoes…and I wear shoes. But, I’m not looking for shoes in exchange for this review (size 11), nor would I ever sell my opinion (Teva Itunda) simply as a means to try to get (2-day air) something I’m not entitled to. Just wanted that (a card would be nice too) to be clear.]

From Drive By Book Review: UnMarketing by Scott Stratten

[Disclaimer – Scott gave me a review copy of UnMarketing. I didn’t pay for it, even though he also said I was sexy, while simultaneously emailing me the PDF and I would’ve paid him the price of the book just to have him call me sexy. But that really doesn’t matter because it’s over now, the moment has passed. And, he has a lot more hair than me, too, which I’m kind of jealous about, but that’d make me more likely to give his book a bad review, unless of course I was still under the influence of the sexy comment, which may have influenced my review, though I don’t think it did. And, btw, the links are all affiliate links, which means if you buy through them, I’ll be rich, rich, rich! Oh look, a squirrel…]

From Can You Really Make A Serious Living Freelancing?

[FTC disclosure: Ed is a friend of mine. He’s got more hair left than me, so I may be a little jealous and that might affect my feelings about him and his book. Speaking of which, his book totally doesn’t suck, but I should probably let you know he sent me a copy for free, which is almost as good as paying my mortgage. Well, it would be, except I rent. I guess I’m also feeling a little guilty now about asking Ed to pay my kid’s private school tuition in exchange for this post, specially since she goes to public school. Ed may or may not also make great pizza. I don’t know. But, if he sends me a free one chances are I’ll eat it, and if I write a review, I’m hoping it won’t be biased.]

So, how might YOU turn your disclaimer lemons into lemonade?

Anyone else have fun ones to share?

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27 responses

27 responses to “Disclose This!”

  1. I enjoy your disclaimers .. which feels like a strange thing to say, but there it is 🙂

  2. LOVE this. I have a barely disclosed passion for anything that tickles a “have-to” into a giggly upside down and inside out subversion. More please!

  3. Kim Neiswender says:

    You are such an awesome writer. I love opening my inbox and seeing your blog. Always makes me think.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Reg Saddler, Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, Leslie White and others. Leslie White said: RT @jonathanfields: Disclose This! – http://bit.ly/bA3IbW […]

  5. Anna says:

    I love it! I’m absolutely adopting this approach. Thanks for reminding me to be light in my approach.

  6. I LOVE IT! Though I should disclose that I used to work with you, and therefore you once payed me for my opinion (and forced adoration and NO LAUGHING), but still it was a stellar experience (aside from the brainwashing) and it is something I would consider doing again (under the right conditions) but I don’t think it has any influence on how I proclaim your awesomeness now… though you are responsible for my moving to paradise to teach yoga and make out with boys (you see I read your latest book) and it was mind-blowing (though you gave me that copy) I might have paid for one anyway since I think you’re cool and once had a very lovely head of hair…. I should also mention I miss your sexy-hairy-lounge chair-legs (is there still a poster of that hidden someplace)

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Wait a minute…I’M responsible for you making out with boys in paradise? Oy…

  7. Love it!

    BTW, hair or no hair, you’re an awesome guy. 🙂

  8. LOL Too funny! I love it when people can find a way to make lemonade out of lemons. I think too many people focus on the negative aspects than just taking things for what they are and running with them. Kudos! (BTW…I think you’re sexy as all getout!)

  9. Your disclaimers are a sign. Yes, a sign from above that you are transparent. Not like invisible, because that would be weird (have you noticed that “weird” doesn’t follow the ‘I before E’ rule, weird!). I digress, my point is that you are trying to build trust between me – the reader, and you, the blogginator. It’s much appreciated and very valuable in our society.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Blogginator…I like that, may have to put it on my biz cards…but then I’d have to start carrying biz cards, lol.

  10. Ken says:

    As with most of your writing, love this. Your disclosures are terrific. Of course, I’m only saying that because I have more hair than you.

  11. Dave Soucy says:

    I always thought there was way too much hand wringing and worry when that ruling came out. If you’ve got a business based on deceiving your readers, well, that doesn’t sound like a great business model to me. I basically took Tim Ferriss’ disclosure model and used it on my site. Big disclosure tab at the top for all to see and a clear statement that I may be getting some dough for recommending a product I happen to like. http://www.davesoucy.com/davesoucy-com-linking-policy/

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, never really understood the problem a whole lot, either. Some folks made the point that bloggers were being held to a higher standard than others. And, my answer was…so what? If your internal standard didn’t make you want to disclose before the FTC hand down its proclamation, the issue just might go deeper than the regs.

  12. ami says:

    Mmmmmmm. Delicious lemonade. And squirrels!

    Love the humor, actually makes the disclosure a valuable part of the post 😉

  13. Hi Jonathan,

    Creative post here 😉 Way to turn a potentially agitating situation into an asset.

    Ryan Biddulph

  14. Judy Martin says:

    Jonathan,
    Great approach. Full disclosure. No Erons here. 🙂

  15. Jonathan–you crack me up. And no one bribed, paid, or otherwise lured me into saying that.

  16. Hm, brainwashing and mind control references might not work well. Then again, there’s a quote from Doonesbury I’ve always loved, when the Rev was asking for donations. What would the donations go towards? In his own words “Fighting homelessness, poverty, hunger and unhappiness.” Meaning his own. 🙂

  17. Maggie Mae says:

    You so totally ROCK dude! Awesome way to manipulate something perceived as a negative into a totally positive and business/relationship-building entity. LOVE IT! (And a full head of hair is over-rated. Bald is the new sexy!)

  18. Jonathan
    The hair thing, can we talk?

  19. Jonathan Fields says:

    Dunno, guys, everyone keeps telling me bald is the new sexy!

    Maybe I should just shave what I’ve got, grow a goatee (sp?), get some square black-rimmed glasses and go hipster. 😉

    …nah!

  20. Jodi Kaplan says:

    I like your disclaimers, (mine are briefer, along the lines of: you get a book, I get a milkshake). Why not have fun with it?

    You can shave your head if you like, I’m keeping mine. 😉

  21. Love it, love you, love the new pic at the top of your blog, love the idea of you shaving your head but please no goatee, although I’d still love you but it would be harder. Please keep doing what you’re doing! I don’t get free stuff (yet), so I don’t have a disclaimer (yet) but if I needed one I would look no further than here for wonderful inspiration. Tks

  22. I luv it Jonathan, makes it all so much less like work and so much more like FUN!!!

  23. Sebastian says:

    Great minds think alike. 😉

    If you ever feel the need to review my book on redirects (of course I’d provide a free copy), don’t forget to disclose that I’ve shown you my FTC disclosure first. Also, I’m bald (as all red crabs are).

  24. Simply brilliant, I love the term “Onionize”, may have to steal that from you. Of course I will disclose exactly where I got it. LOL