Sewing Influencers- Part 4: Frequently Asked Questions
Reminder: I am not a lawyer and you should not consider the contents of this post to be legal advice. Please seek out a qualified legal expert if you need to pursue this topic with more depth in relation to your own business. Thank you for reading and I hope we all learn something!
If this is your first time stumbling onto this discussion, I would suggest you go back and read this from the beginning.
And now here we are at Part 4—the frequently asked questions I collected from YOU. Well, I collected them from you if you follow me on Instagram and put a question into the little Question Box when I asked if my followers had any!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I have to clarify every time I share a cut of fabric or a pattern if I paid for it vs. received it for free?
A: If you are following the FTC Guidelines, you should not have to clarify each time. Personally, I think it builds trust between an influencer and their followers if the influencer is clearly differentiating between paid reviews and endorsements and their own personal purchases. I also received feedback from many who responded to my Instagram discussion that they preferred to have it clearly stated either way from people who accept sponsorships and partnerships. If you are sewing purely for pleasure and not business, it’s probably unnecessary to add any language to your posting for clarity.
Q: If I receive a prize from a giveaway, do I need to disclose it if I share it on my social media or blog?
A: From my understanding of the Endorsement Guides, something received for free like a “free sample” from a store does not need to be disclosed. There is no business relationship involved in that sort of passing of goods. So go ahead and share it so we can all be envious of your good luck!
Q: If I am a sewing influencer and a business sends me a gift unsolicited by me, do I need to disclose?
A: If you did not solicit a product or enter into a business relationship with that business and you received something for free, you do not need to disclose it. If you are already in a business relationship (with a fabric store, for example), and you received something “extra” from them, that can be considered a form of “bonus” payment and should be disclosed.
Q: I work for a small creative business and also run a personal creative account. Do I need to disclose my relationship?
A: If you have a professional connection to a certain business, the FTC Endorsement Guidelines are very clear on this: you must disclose.
Let’s say you assist with social media for a small creative business. You will have a biased opinion of that business because you are personally invested in the success of said business. If it's not imminently clear somewhere on your own personal creative account that you are associated professionally with that business and you mention products from that website, then you are technically not legally disclosing your relationship.
Q: How should influencers disclose their relationships on social media?
A: Let’s start with Instagram. The FTC does seem to have any required language except that it must be clear to your followers. Using the hashtag #ad or #sponsored are acceptable and you can place them at any point in your post as long as they are easily seen. Other tags such as #brandpartner or #brandteam seem to also satisfy the guidelines. The FTC also said that your disclosure can be at the beginning, middle, or end of the post as long as it’s clear and not buried in a list of hashtags.
Don’t forget about Instagram stories and IGTV! Let’s say you received some sewing tools to do a review on your blog. You love these tools so much you want to do a demonstration of them on Instagram stories. You should include a disclosure tag on each slide of your Instagram story. This is clearly stated in the FTC Endorsement Guides FAQ.
Disclosure on blogs is simple. Clear and concise language that shows your business relationship.
“This post is sponsored by XX.”
“This post is in partnership with XX fabric team.”
A hyperlink to a disclosure page is not enough information in your blog post. The disclosure must be contained in the post content.
Q: What about affiliate links? How do they need to be disclosed?
A: After reading the FTC Endorsement Guidelines, I now believe my original stance on affiliate disclosure was incorrect. I will go into more detail on that in another post (that I will link here after I write it). I will say now that I think affiliate marketing is a wonderful income opportunity and I hope to use it in the future.
Now, how should an influencer disclose an affiliate link according to the FTC? An affiliate link should be disclosed and made clear that if someone makes a purchase using the link you will receive income. The FTC says that a statement about affiliate link income should be clear on the same screen where the link is listed. So if you have a blog post you should disclose the affililate link.
Interestingly, the FTC says the influencer should not assume that a reader knows what affiliate marketing is and you need to state on each post including a link that you may earn a commission through purchases made through links. I have not seen any affiliate disclosures on Instagram story “swipe up” posts so I am not sure if influencers do not need to disclose this or maybe it’s such a new technology that it hasn’t been addressed in the guildelines? Have you ever seen someone disclose an affiliate link in an Instagram “swipe up”?
Let’s say you have made a video on you tube about sewing tools you can purchase on Amazon. Your you tube video includes a disclosure and affiliate links to the products are in the down bar below your video. You have properly disclosed that information in the correct place. If you post on your Instagram feed that you have a new video on YouTube for your followers to watch about sewing tools, I don’t believe you need to disclose your affiliate marketing links there. The disclosure should stay on the same screen/location as the links. I hope that’s clear. Feel free to ask questions about this. And my post about affiliate marketing in sewing is in the works!
Q: If I test a pattern, do I have an obligation to say I am a tester?
A: If you are receiving something in return for your testing, the FTC Guidelines state you should disclose that professional relationship. The hashtag #patterntest or #patterntesting is pretty clear within our community that it generally means you are receiving some compensation for your pattern feedback. You do not have to specifically disclose if you were paid with money or goods, but a free copy of the final pattern would count as “goods.”
Now, I’m not entirely sure if simply sharing that a person tested a pattern is clear enough to truly follow the FTC guidelines but I do think it shows that a review of the pattern is likely biased because the reviewer was involved in the pattern creation in some manner. What do you you think, reader? Does tagging a image or review with #patterntester clearly disclose the reviewer’s pattern bias and business relationship? I’m open to discussion on this one.
Q: Why are influencers called…influencers? Why not just marketers or advertisers?
A: I have no idea. Maybe this article I found will give us some insight?
We covered a lot of ground here but I have a feeling there is a lot of room for a follow up FAQ…and probably a follow up to that follow up! I’m also open to your comments, corrections, disagreements, etc. I am learning about this too! Please feel free to leave me a comment here on the blog or email me.
Next up…let’s talk to some influencers and businesses in the sewing community! I’ve got some more great articles, interviews, and continued discussion on the way! Thank you so much for stopping by!