In light of the news that Google Reader is shutting down in July and some new changes from the FTC for bloggers and disclosures, this post is here to give you a few alternatives to Google Reader that you can use to follow the blog along with how the new FTC regulations will be implemented on the blog. I also wanted to share my thoughts on the whole issue.
Google Reader Alternatives
Feedly: you can transfer your Google Reader over to Feedly. It's a website/plugin for several browsers that transfers your feeds into Feedly for easy reading.
Bloglovin: you also transfer your Google Reader feed into Bloglovin. I kind of prefer Bloglovin because the preview images are larger but to each their own!
Hellocotton: Hellocotton is another option, kind of a combination of Feedly and Bloglovin in aesthetics.
With the new US FTC regulations (applied towards "digital advertising", as if bloggers solely exist to sell you guys stuff), bloggers now have to be more clear (according to them) about the disclosures we make. For more information on the type of disclosures blogger have to make, please read Carlene's post. I've always strived to be upfront about whether I've received products for review, bought something, was gifted something, use affiliate links, etc. and I hope you've felt that I've been honest. For ease, I found that putting buttons at the top of the post indicating the disclosure type to be the best option. (For fellow bloggers, check out Christine's tutorial for buttons on Blogger blogs and Carlene's tutorial for buttons on Wordpress)
Each post will have the appropriate disclaimer in the top left corner. These are the three that I will use when necessary and add anymore if necessary.
I Purchased This= This means I purchased the product myself.
Gift/Prize= This means I received the product as a gift from someone I know or from a giveaway.
Press Sample= This means I received the product as a press sample, allowing me to review the product and is courtesy of the brand, public relations company, or from a goodie bag courtesy of a trade show.
Affiliate Links= This means the post contains affiliate links which grants me a commission based off your use of the link when you make a purchase. Feel free to use a nonaffiliate link! If I do not use this, then there are no affiliate links in the post.
You can always read my disclosure and disclosure types by clicking on the Disclosure tab at the top of the blog.
My Thoughts on the Issue
This wasn't my first thought when I heard about the changes but I am really curious to see how this applies towards vloggers, especially on Youtube. I mean they could be considered a form of "digital advertising" as they aren't print media. Would they need to say their disclosure within the first minute of their video or write it prominently in their description bar?
As with anything, there are some bad apples that don't always follow guidelines. I think this complicates issues with some who have always been honest but have to compensate for those who are not. After all, saying you're not affiliated with a brand when you've received it for free from them isn't exactly truthful is it? I suppose the ambiguity of the terms "affiliated" and "sponsored" contributes to it. I know I've seen some UK vloggers say "sponsored" to mean a product was provided by a brand whereas some US vloggers and bloggers say "sponsored" to mean that they were paid to write or review a product.
If the FTC seeks to crack down on ambiguity and impartiality, their scope is way too narrow. The majority of beauty bloggers I read are completely upfront about whether they've received a product for free, are doing a paid post, have affiliate links, etc. They do this for every single post that they've written and it's featured very prominently.
Now maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but I wasn't able to find a disclosure policy on the websites of magazines like Teen Vogue, Lucky, Glamour, etc. I tried looking on Conde Nast (the mother company of these magazines) and found no information either.
My indignation about this whole issue isn't about me being mad about needing to be honest and upfront because I already strive to be, but from the implication that bloggers are the ones that need to be regulated yet other forms of media like print media in the form of magazines don't. Let's be honest here, some magazines just exist to perpetuate the cycle of making you feel bad so they can sell you whatever product they want and they're not always subtle about it.
Many of the bloggers I know don't have this agenda and if the FTC is there to help protect consumers, bloggers aren't necessarily the ones that need regulating.
If you want to read what other bloggers are saying about the new FTC changes, please check out Phyrra's post where she's compiled all the links!
If you're a blogger, how are you going to implement the new changes? As a reader, how do you feel bloggers should be more transparent about their disclosure statuses?