… in regards to recommending other products and services

I was recently approached by a company who helps their clients get links within websites they believe have the same target audience.  They offered to pay me $150/year to have a text link or two, which they would write, on my website and or blog.  I was curious about how it would work so asked for more information.  While this is part of my business and I do need to make money for all of the time I put into it, it is very important to me that my websites don’t become random junky ads.  I wanted to make sure that I agreed that the companies they wanted to link would be valuable for you, my audience.

I asked to see an example of how they would do the text and what they expected it to look like.  They sent me a few web pages as examples.  One was on a UK website so I wasn’t surprised that it was a simple text link with no notation about whether there was any monetary gain or not on the part of the website owner.

When I responded, I said that I would need to add an * to let my readers know that I was earning something for the link – although I will never put a link just because of cash, I have to believe it what I’m linking too.  I also mentioned what I believed to be the obvious – that this has been a rule from the FTC and that large fines could be levied for not doing so.

They said, “Well, our clients prefer that you not state that you are earning anything by having the link there.”

I replied, “Then I won’t be able to include your links.  I’ve promised my readers a level of transparency and integrity – not to mention I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the FTC.”

The FTC disclosure guidelines, while a bit cumbersome at times, were created for the good of the average internet user.  When you watch a commercial, you know they are trying to sell you something.  When your friend recommends a restaurant, you can usually assume they aren’t getting a kick-back for saying “go to Joe’s Diner”!  There was a lot of confusion about the motivation for bloggers to recommend things.  Sometimes it was because they liked the product, sometimes it was just to make money and sometimes it was because they liked it and could make a little money.

In order for internet users to better understand the relationship between a website or blogger and a product, in December 2009 they said that if you have a monetary gain, or get something for free for talking about a product, you need to disclose it.  It’s really not that big of a deal and it’s something I guarantee I do for you. Click here to get more details about the FTC guidelines.

You will always know if I have received a free sample, stand to earn some art supply money or am simply telling you about something I totally dig!

My promise to you in regards to what I say about art licensing…

Since I started this blog, teaching about art licensing and writing eBooks, I have striven to offer a real-world and balanced view of what this industry is about.  I don’t say it’s easy money everyone jump in, I don’t say it’s for everyone.  I also don’t say it’s a nightmare so don’t even think about it in order to keep the competition to a minimum.

I promise to give you my honest opinions, as I see things, from my vantage point of an artist working in art licensing.

I am thrilled every time I get feedback that says I’m doing just that.  Last week an artist posted on my Facebook page:

I previously only had a very vague (extremely vague!) notion of what it was all about. You presented it in a frank and honest way, no sugar-coating, but no discouragement either. Just what is involved so that anyone listening would be well informed of all the pros and cons.

That is my goal!  I want artists to understand the reality of art licensing so you can decide if it’s for you.  It won’t be for everyone and some days, I wonder if it’s for me. (Those are bad days and I always snap out of it – unsure of what I’d want to do if I wasn’t doing this!)

So – those are my promises to you.  I won’t lose your trust for $150 and I won’t give you pie-in-the-sky or doom-and-gloom versions of what art licensing is all about.

I love to write, teach and share about what I’m passionate about – art licensing, goal setting (and even more important – achieving!) and how to get publicity.  I invite you to learn as you’d like – there are lots and lots of resources!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed