Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FTC Disclosure

It has just been brought to my attention that the FTC has issued a new requirement for bloggers to disclose the financial relationships of partners I deal with as part of running this blog. This blog started as a way for me to archive frequently written e-mails to my colleagues in my photography group where I work during business hours (Microsoft Corporation).

This blog started with my own accounts, from my own experiences from purchases I had made out of my own pocket. As the blog started to grow in popularity, I started to get approached by third parties asking if they could send me a complementary copy of their product for review. I like free stuff just as much as the next guy, so sure I’ll take something free if you send it to me. It doesn’t mean that I’ll review it, and it doesn’t mean that I’ll like it and say good things about it. It just means I get it for free and can play with it and it is up to me to take it from there.

None of the free products I have received have come with any strings attached (i.e., you must review it, you must say nice things, etc…). Instead, an item is typically sent and that’s the last I hear from that “sponsor”. Naturally, if I use the product (which I admit, some haven’t even been opened), then I’ll write a review about it with my thoughts (many times good – because there’s some cool stuff out there, but sometimes bad too). When I write a review, I share the link with the contact person that sent me the free item.

To the best of my knowledge, the following companies have contributed free products or services for articles I have published on this blog:

  • Alien Skin Software
  • Amherst Media (all books where they are the publisher beginning with this book review – which isn’t a positive review)
  • Bryan Morgan
  • Canvas on Demand
  • Cradoc Software
  • Dane Creek (Neil Enns)
  • folioSnap
  • Focus Magic (no affiliate or commissioned relationship)
  • HDRSoft
  • Imagenomic
  • liveBooks
  • MPix.com
  • Nik Software (but I paid full price for my copy of Color Efex Pro and didn’t get the discount that I share with my readers)
  • onOne Software
  • PeachPit Press (all books where they are the publisher beginning in
  • PictureCode
  • Sitewelder
  • Smugmug (except for ronmart.smugmug.com and my original review)
  • Think Tank Photo (except for ALL of the items in my first TTP review)
  • Topaz Labs

I am also an affiliate with Amazon and many others (actually I’ve lost count), so if you click a link and it takes you to an external site then odds are I will get a commission if you make a purchase. This is the business model of this for profit blog where I am sharing my time* and experiences with you in exchange for you supporting the blog by purchasing using the links I’ve provided. I also accept donations (which I had hope would generate funds to purchase items), but to date only two people have donated. It is therefore necessary to retain successful affiliate relationships so that I can continue to purchase new items (like my 5D Mark II and pre-ordered Canon G11) so that I can review them for you here.

I am not sponsored by Canon or any other camera manufacturer in any way.

Anytime I purchase or review a product (sponsored or not) I try to contact the company to see if I can secure a discount for my readers and hope that in return I can also get a commission for referrals. Sometimes I get a commissioned discount (shown on the discount coupon code page), and sometimes I only get the discount for my readers without a commission.

I typically spend a minimum of 8 hours and sometime as many as 40 hours reviewing and writing the articles for this blog, all in my spare time that I should really be spending with my wife and new son. In fact, the “round-up” type series I do generally involve hundreds of hours in preparation plus a week or more of effort to write the articles, and this time is generally during my free time from 8PM to 1AM weekdays and about 16 hours+ each weekend. However, I enjoy photography and can use the extra income to supplement the income lost by my wife choosing to become a stay at home mom, so I appreciate your financial support in exchange for the energy and investments I make into this blog to share my knowledge with you.

I also estimate that roughly 1/3rd of my readers actually support this blog by purchasing using links on this site, whereas the 2/3rd’s majority of my readers use this information and then purchase elsewhere (i.e., cashback programs, larger discount codes elsewhere, supporting local stores, etc…). This isn’t a paid newsletter or web site, so that’s the price I pay for keeping this blog free.

At this point in time no one is paying for advertising on this blog (i.e., company logo / deals are placed at my discretion) beyond what Google Adsense does through their program.

If this doesn’t clear things up and you have any questions related to any of my past articles, please add a comment to the article in question with a request for additional disclosure and I would be happy to add any additional feedback in a comment response. Moving forward, I’ll disclose at the bottom of my articles if any products or services have been provided at no charge.

I hope this clears things up and it is my understanding that I am now in full compliance with the FTC requirement. I appreciate your support as well as my sponsors, and I look forward to this letter raising awareness as to the business model of this blog so that readers like you will support me by making sure you use the links provided moving forward.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded. Residents from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming (and where prohibited by law) may be prohibited from using the links to make purchases, so please consider making a donation instead. This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

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