* This Disclosure & Disclaimer was last updated July 2016
Vietnam Coracle is free and independent: free to all readers and independent from any outside control. But this website is also how I earn my living. The purpose of this page is to disclose to you, the reader, how I make money from my site, and if/how that might effect you or influence the content I write. This page is also about making it clear to what extent I am liable for the content of this blog and the advertising it carries. Ultimately, the following statements reveal the process by which Vietnam Coracle remains free and independent while also generating my personal income. (Please read both the Disclosure and Disclaimer statements because they are closely related.)
Free & Independent:
As you know, Vietnam Coracle is a personal blog offering free and independent travel advice about Vietnam. I (Tom) run the whole show: Vietnam Coracle isn’t a team; it’s just me. As a result, all the ideas, views, opinions, guides, recommendations, and reviews on this site are my own. I never receive direct payment for any of the content I write. I pay my own way, and my independence is paramount to the work I produce.
However, running Vietnam Coracle is a full-time occupation, and an expensive one too. I need to monetize this site in order to keep it going. But I want to do this in a way that does not undermine the credibility of my site or abuse the trust I’ve built with my readers. Therefore, I have introduced content-based advertising on my site in order to fund it. This means that my ads are not random, impersonal messages from irrelevant businesses, but an extension of the independent travel advice that I provide in my content. I achieve this by personally selecting each and every ad on my site: I only approve ads that I feel my readers will be interested in or benefit from, or preferably that I have personal experience of. This way I can confidently list my ads under the title ‘External Resources, Useful Links & Approved Ads’. I make money by selling space on my site to these advertisers, for example in the right sidebar of this page. I feel that this is an excellent and honest way to monetize my site without compromising its independence, and without misleading my readers.
My content is not influenced by the ads on my site. On the contrary, advertisers want to put their ads next to my content because it is relevant to their product or service. I am not, shall not, and will not be under any obligation to write favourably about any of my advertisers’ products or services. If I write positively or negatively about any of the products or services that are advertised on my site, it is a reflection of my own personal experience or use of their product or service, and not because they are my clients. (To find out more about advertising on Vietnam Coracle read this)
While I do my very best to ensure that all services and products I advertise for on this site offer reliable and excellent quality, I cannot guarantee that this will be the case. In order to make sure that only the best services and products are advertised on Vietnam Coracle, I encourage my readers to share their own experience – be it positive or negative – of anything that I advertise for.
Another way in which I monetize Vietnam Coracle is by using the Agoda Affiliate Program. I have used Agoda to book hotels in Vietnam and abroad for years. It’s quick, easy, efficient, and often (especially when booking high-end hotels) cheaper than the rack rates. This is how the Agoda Affiliate Program works: When you click a link on my site to Agoda or when you search a hotel’s availability in a search box embedded in one of my posts, if you end up making a hotel booking, I will receive a commission from that transaction. I feel that being able to book hotels directly from my site is a convenient and valuable addition for my readers.
I’ve always been interested in all types of accommodation aimed at travellers: hotels, guesthouses, homestays, camping; bare bones budget to high-end luxury. This is why I have a Hotel Reviews category on my site. All these reviews are based on my own personal experience of staying there and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, I always pay my own way.
I never write a post for money on this site. However, if I am contacted by a business about a product or service that I think is particularly interesting or relevant to my readers, then I may want to write about it. In this case, the business (for example, a hotel, cafe, or tour) might offer to pay for my use of their service or product in exchange for my writing about it. But, before accepting, I always make it absolutely clear that my review will be full, frank and honest: I will not write positively about something I dislike just because it has been paid for by someone else. Unless these conditions are accepted, I will not agree to the exchange. What’s more, I will always make it explicitly clear to my readers when a post has been written under these circumstances.
Been There, Done That:
I never write about somewhere I haven’t been to myself; something I haven’t tried myself, eaten myself; or somewhere I haven’t stayed myself: if it’s on Vietnam Coracle then I have been there, done it, eaten it, or used it myself.
Accuracy & Updates:
I do my best to keep all my content current and up to date. But things change quickly in developing Vietnam: hotels open and close, roads are relaid, street vendors move, prices rise. All information I publish on this site is accurate at the time of writing (see the top of each post to check when it was last updated). I encourage readers to comment at the bottom of posts or email me if they know of any changes that may effect the content of my articles and guides. This way, in a collaborative effort between you (the reader) and me, we can keep information on Vietnam Coracle as current as possible.
Opinions & Views:
Vietnam Coracle is personal: I share my own experiences and advice with my readers. The opinions and views in my posts are my own and, just like anyone’s personal opinions, they are subject to change in the future. Perhaps a cafe which I consider cool and edgy one year, will appear to me to be conformist and boring another year. Or maybe a road trip along the coast that seemed spectacular one year will seem mundane the next. I have the right to change my mind: the opinions of this blog are not set in stone.
I allow and actively encourage comments on my posts and pages. I personally monitor all comments on my site, so please keep your comments on-topic or, if it’s not something that everyone needs to read, email me instead. I will not approve any comments that I consider rude, vulgar, offensive, irrelevant, or unhelpful. I am not responsible for the views and opinions of any of the comments on my site other than those made by myself in response to others.
Although I advertise only for services and products that I feel are useful, content-relevant, and offer good quality to my readers, I cannot guarantee that you will feel the same, and I am not responsible for any negative experience you may have when using them. You can help me keep the ads on Vietnam Coracle beneficial to readers by sharing your own experiences of them – positive or negative – in an email to me. For example, if you rent a motorbike from one of the companies I advertise for, let me know how the service was. (To find out more about advertising on Vietnam Coracle read this).
Some of my content is republished on other sites (either with or without my permission and knowledge). When this happens, I am no longer responsible for the content as shown on that website, even if its original source is Vietnam Coracle.
As a personal blog offering travel advice and recommendations of things to do, places to stay and eat, and means of transportation, I expect that many of my readers will, in some form or another, take my advice. This is exactly what Vietnam Coracle is for. However (and I’m sorry for the severe legal tone of the following statement, but it must be said), under no circumstances will I be held responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage that is caused or alleged to have been caused to you in connection with your use of any advice, goods or services you receive from my blog or ads on my blog. Phew! I’m glad that’s over with.
Now, having read these statements, I hope that you will continue to read, enjoy and use the travel advice, tips and resources on Vietnam Coracle to make your time in Vietnam as memorable as possible. If you have any further questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for continuing to read Vietnam Coracle, and thanks for your patience in going through this Disclosure and Disclaimer statement.