FTC Disclosure Statement (updated 02/2011)
Online Sellers Association
The FTC has issued Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, imposing new rules and “guides” as of December 1, 2009:
1. Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising Effective Date December 1, 2009, 81 pp.
2. Press release: FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements, 10/05/2009
Although there are some examples of situations which could trigger the requirement for disclosure, the FTC document is, frankly, less than clear when it comes to specific requirements or the inclusion of discussion of the precise form such disclosure should take.
Our Disclosure Statement
With the above in mind, and the desire to provide both complete and appropriate disclosure that is in a human-friendly, human-readable, format, the following is our own personal disclosure statement that applies to our work across the broad spectrum of products and services we offer online.
While we have always been clear that we provide business information and advice in various fields for a membership fee and, sometimes, without charge below are specifics that detail that nature of what we do.
• Through the operation of the Online Sellers Association website (this one) we offer a combination of services, some free, some paid, that include advice and information for online sellers, work at home moms, and small businesses who may or may not be considering online operation. Some of our information is delivered throug free areas of our website while other services are coupled with paid membership areas. We also offer free promotion and/or paid advertising spots as well as free advice and/or other services.
• The Online Sellers Association offer information about the following services:
Developing and running an online business
Choosing products and or services to offer in an online business
Website products, selection and operation.
Shopping cart and online payment services
Online shopping venues and their services
Web hosting companies and domain registration
Search engine optimization and social media marketing
Business software, equipment, and offices
Books and other published materials
Videos and other media
Advertising, marketing and promotion
Training courses, tutorials, and individual or group training
Government services, taxation, bookkeeping
General commentary on a variety of subject matter
Lifestyle and personal performance analysis and advice
...and other personal and business advice.
• We receive products and services from others for the purpose of evaluation. We share the results of our analysis publicly, both good and bad. We sometimes keep and use the product or service ourselves and sometimes we give it away to others. We sometimes receive fees for the analysis we do.
• We earn income from numerous affiliate programs (ie: Amazon, Google, etc.) and advertise, or otherwise promote, affiliate products and services on the Online Sellers Associaton website. Any product endorsement (eg: in a blog post) is given with our honest personal evaluation. We do not endorse products or services which we would not accept for use ourselves although there are products we endorse which we do not actually use ourselves as we already have another suitable product or service for this purpose or the product or service in questions is not something we need but which is, in our estimation, suitable for use by others.
• We have attended professional association meetings and industry conferences where we have been compensated with gifts or other acknowledgments, or provided with professional titles or other references which may be considered to enhance our status or professional position.
• We are paid to speak publicly to public groups, membership organizations, and others where we may include reference to, or the recommendation of, products and/or services, both our own and/or those of others.
• We hold free and paid courses at a variety of facilities and online, which may be either live or recorded, and which may include recommendations of products and/or services, both our own and/or those of others.
• We have received endorsements and testimonials from other professionals, and from our members, which we use to reflect the nature of our services, and the products and services we provide. We do not pay for any such endorsements or testimonials.
• As is standard in the industry, we receive some information from companies, provided as a preview under the protection of a non-disclosure agreement, or we may work with beta versions of products, or participate in formal beta programs, or otherwise have advance information about products or services.
• We also receive product samples in preparation for specific articles, and solicit samples for presentations, courses, and other coverage. These may include software, hardware devices, online services, books, and other materials. While some companies provide only review copies of products for a limited loan period, many companies are not interested in having product samples returned, including most software and smaller products that cannot be usefully reused. Such products may be retained for personal use or may be given to others or used in promotional or other give-away events. Actual products, or samples, may also be solicited for handouts, promotional give-aways, or donations.
• Google Adsense (pay per click affiliate) advertisements may appear in typical locations on the sides and/or bottom of the pages of our websites. You can identify Google Ads because they are isolated in separate sections on the pages, marked “Ads by Google.” Such ads’ content is determined by Google using their own process based on the content of the pages upon which they appear. Google pays us a fee based for placement based on the number of people who click through to the advertised site.
• We often use specific Amazon affiliate product links when discussing a product on our sites, since it allows readers to click though to see additional product descriptions, user reviews, and current street pricing. Visitors to our site may also choose to purchase the item through Amazon which will result in a small promotional fee being paid to us. This does not affect the price paid for the item as compared with going directly to Amazon to make the purchase.
We believe we are, and have always been, fully open about the nature of our services, the relationships we have with other companies, the fees we charge (if any) for particular services and/or products, and the nature of any affiliate relationships we have. If you have a question about any of this please feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be glad to provide an answer.
Additionally, in our discussion with paid members, in some products and/or materials we may produce for sale, and in some of the advice we offer free of charge through our websites, by email, by telephone, or by other communication methods, we examine potential income, and/or income increases, from business development recommendations, SEO/SMM, and other services we may offer or recommend. As per the above referenced FTC guidelines here is our earnings disclaimer and forward looking statement:
EARNINGS DISCLAIMER AND FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENT
Every effort has been made to accurately represent our products and/or services, and their potential, however there is no guarantee that you will earn any money using our products or the techniques or ideas in these materials. Examples in these materials are not to be interpreted as a promise or guarantee of earnings in any way. Any earning potential is entirely dependent on the person using these products, ideas and techniques and we do not purport this as a “get rich scheme.” We know, as should you, that there is no such thing.
Any claims made of actual earnings or examples of actual results can be verified upon request. Your level of success in attaining the results that may have been claimed in our materials depends on the time you devote to the program, ideas and techniques mentioned, your finances, previous knowledge and various skills. Since these factors differ according to individuals, we cannot guarantee your success or income level, nor are we responsible for any of your actions.
Materials in our product(s) and on our website may contain information that includes or is based upon forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements give our expectations or forecasts of future events. You can identify these statements by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. Such Forward Looking Statements use words such as “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “project,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” and other such words and terms of similar meaning in connection with a description of potential earnings or financial performance. Your results may vary from ours and those of anyone else who is, or will be, using these products, techniques, and/or services.
Any and all forward looking statements here, on any of our websites, on any of our sales material, or other published places, are intended to express our opinion of earnings potential not actual earnings expected. Many factors will be important in determining your actual results and no guarantees are made, expressed, or implied that you will achieve results similar to ours or anybody else’s. In fact no guarantees are made that you will achieve any results from our ideas and techniques in our material at all.