The occupational therapy community is awesome. Overall, the community is generous, supportive, and uplifting. I feel very lucky to be a part of this community, especially as a content creator. Another thing that I would like to applaud the OT community for is its creativity. From social media posts to videos to podcasts – they are all so creative. Much more creative than I ever will be.
Either as a side-hustle, experimental project, hobby, or serious business though, I have seen emerging OTs, trending OTs, and even seasoned OTs make this one mistake when trying to bring in income via methods such as referral programs, e.g, Amazon Associates or for sponsored content or anything similar, e.g., gifts for mentioning a product or service, etc.
These posts and content need to have a clear disclosure of the relationship or reason behind it.
Is it a referral link? Is it sponsored content? Is someone paying you to review a product? Are you getting something for free if you do an endorsement or product placement? Are you involved in the project and have a conflict of interest, e.g, you are selling NBCOT tutoring services and recommending yourself.
This is important for several reasons:
- It is ethical and transparent to your audience. If you are looking to stick around for a while and build a relationship with your audience, you should be fully transparent with them. It’s not worth it for a few extra bucks just to post this content or links for a few extra bucks. I see a lot of student OT accounts doing this lately.
- Some user agreements or policies on these platforms may actually require that you disclose this information. Not doing so may result in your account being suspended or payments canceled. I would hate to see all of your hard work and time spent being wasted for something that could have been avoided.
- It may be required or mandatory or even the law. Technology, the Internet, and the law are constantly changing, and at a rapid pace too. By the time you read this, some new law may be required that you follow this type of practice. As privacy and transparency become more important on the Internet post Facebook controversy and post Snowden, it is important that you keep up with the policies and best practices.
- It lets other sponsors, companies, and brands know that you are following best practices. This shows your commitment, professionalism, and maturity in the business. It is almost expected that you do this because if you don’t you could be missing out on potential brand deals because a company may think, “I’d rather not deal with them, they seem sketchy”.
- The IRS may think you are committing fraud. As OTs, we know the importance of developing good habits. So its a good practice to keep good accounting of everything. This starts with how you write your posts and including these disclosures.
For example, on this website, every page has a disclosure that I am an Amazon Associate’s partner. On pages where I submit referral links, I disclose this at the very top so that it does not get missed by the viewer. Although I rarely do referrals or anything of that nature, I always disclose it front and center. Lately, I have been disclosing my personal projects that I have involvement in and recommend as there is potentially a conflict of interest.
Even something like including #ad or #sponsored is better than nothing at all.
If you have any questions about how this should be done, look at how other people are posting their disclosures, look on youtube, or on the actual platform’s policies (the most authoritative method).
Hope this helps and I wish you all success with your goals.