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Would You Sell Your Soul for Paid Blog Posts?

In reply to my Speedlinking post, “Sleepy Blogger” Robyn Tippins left an interesting comment “I still don’t know exactly how I feel, long term, about PPP, but I’m interested in the roads they’re traveling.”

Robyn certainly echoes the sentiments of bloggers who’re focused on building a brand.

In case you’re not familiar with paid posting, it works like this:

A company contracts a paid posting service provider to get bloggers to blog about their company, product or service. Usually, the stipulation is that the post must contain a backlink to the company. Bloggers may be required to post pre-written (usually positive-slanted) content and there may be safeguards to ensure they don’t post any negativity about the subject.

Payment for a single post varies, typically ranging from $10-20, and going up to $100 or even more (though that might involve making a video clip, posting it to YouTube and featuring it on your blog).

I’d signed up with some of the paid posting networks and wasn’t too thrilled. Perhaps the industry is still in it’s infancy, but the paid assignments offered to me included pharmaceutical and university sponsors. Neither of which fit into my readers needs or wants.

I was however, tempted to create a throwaway blogger account and set up a blog, explicitly for posting paid content. After all, the service provider didn’t seem particularly concerned about metrics like traffic or PageRank.

In the end, I did a calculation of the value of my time and it just didn’t seem worth it.

The time spent not just posting the content, but shortlisting appropriate offers, thinking up possible angles and developing interesting content (ie caring for your readers interests), just didn’t seem to be worth it, even at $20 a post.

Sure, the sponsored post might bring some additional traffic to your blog, but would it be targeted traffic?
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful that bloggers are getting more options beyond the typical adsense, banner and text link ads. It just seems that paid content is still in its infancy and bloggers who excessive publish ‘too much’ paid content might earn the moniker of a ‘paid.blog.whore’. ‘Too much’ being a subjective measure.

It’s great that blogger are getting more blog monetization options as blogging’s marketing potential is realized by corporate America. At the same time, bloggers who get too blinded by the cash, will end up alienating their own readers and doing damage to their personal brand.

There’s already a blogger backlash against paid content posting. The question is how far it’ll go.

What are your thoughts about paid posting?

15 comments on Would You Sell Your Soul for Paid Blog Posts?

  1. Tom
    January 6, 2007 at 9:48 pm (5047 days ago)

    I think paid blog posts are fine, but the key is to keep your integrity and your blog’s integrity. There are definitely those sites out there which post upwards of 50% paid content, completely alienating their readers and just looking to make the quick buck, but there are also those sites out there with the occasional relevant paid blog post, which I have no problem with. I know with PPP most opportunities to post are neutral, so the blogger can post positively or negatively about the company which is great in my opinion.

    For example, if I have a blog about technology, and Apple posts an opportunity up on PPP to review the iPod, either positively or negatively, I don’t see the problem with me posting my opinions about it, especially if I love it or hate it already, and may have even posted about it in the future. The key in my opinion is relevancy and maintaining your integrity, but the entire concept of paid blog posts I have no problem with.

  2. Kian Ann
    January 6, 2007 at 10:34 pm (5047 days ago)

    I guess for myself, I wouldn’t mind doing a sponsored post, but I will really have to acertain that the product or service does what it preaches… basically, I’ll be honest with my readers. The most valuable asset of a blog is the relationship with the readers, and if anything is to compromise that, it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

  3. Andrew Wee
    January 7, 2007 at 2:24 am (5046 days ago)

    Well, in the example you mention I doubt that any of us would turn it down.

    However, the reality of the situation is that you’d more often be getting offers for viagra/levitra or opportunities to enrol for distance learning courses for car repair. Which don’t seem appealing to me.

    Apple’s iPods already do very well, and I’d doubt that such offers come up regularly.

    If they did, I’d say for every Apple offer, you’d have another 100 offers to blog about content that isn’t anywhere as exciting.

    Hence, you’d eventually be selling your soul…

  4. Andrew Wee
    January 7, 2007 at 2:28 am (5046 days ago)

    “I’ll be honest with my readers”

    You might not always have that choice.
    If you’re being paid to advertise something, you can’t very well be 100% honest, or even if the offers said you could do anything you wanted to, if you were honest/negative (depending on your point of view) and if you had to even factor these in, it’s merely going to handicap your blogging. Which would make the entire exercise potentially more trouble than it’s worth.

    In theory, it could seem workable.

    The reality is quite different.

  5. Rachit
    January 7, 2007 at 11:50 pm (5046 days ago)

    Hmmmmmm. This reminds me of the recent blogging controversy – where Microsoft/Acer sent new Vista laptops to several technology bloggers.

    And the whole blogosphere was abuzz with hateful words about Microsoft’s strategy. And even though MS was pretty clear about the fact that bloggers are completely free to write crap and give the laptop away to their community – the MS haters still had a field day.

    Personally, I have no problem with PPP posts. Different bloggers have their own reasons to blog – if they want to make money for stuff they agree with, then they should be allowed.

    I’m sure that as this industry matures, we’ll see a lot of interesting changes. Many interesting technology startups will prefer this over Pay Per Click and Pay Per Lead marketing. And this has the advantages that Press Releases have (longetivity … and the multiplier effect).

    5 Paid bloggers —> 5000 readers —> 50 Unpaid bloggers

    At the end of the day, many bloggers promote affiliate products too … This isn’t any different.

  6. Andy Beard
    January 9, 2007 at 6:57 am (5044 days ago)

    I recently got paid to review Aaron Wall’s SEO glossary, which I had previously Dugg in the past. It was totally on topic, and because he has an affiliate program, I was able to also include affiliate links to his ebook for additional potential income long-term.

    Here is the final kicker, a few days later Aaron linked through from his seobook blog to my review, sending me back as much traffic or potentially more than I had given him.

    The post was totally relevant to my blog, and I have even been complemented on the disclosure I used, which was probably a little more than I will probably do in future for such posts, but I am sticking to stuff that is highly relevant.

    Here is a link to the post for reference
    http://andybeard.eu/2006/12/search-engine-glossary.html

    It also helps that I have a clear disclosure policy for my site, and that is included in every post, even the RSS feed using a plugin I had someone write for me.

    Btw, as far as I know you won’t find any paid post program where you can post just pure paid posts, and blogs normally have to be well established, with regular normal posts to qualify.

    I have questioned whether $10 per post is worth it for many bloggers for long-term income, but if it is $30+ and just a bonus… more like them nudging you to post about something relevant, from which you can still earn something else, I can’t see the problem.

    One good thing about ReviewMe, they pay on time. In fact I was paid just 15 days after my review which is better than most affiliate networks.

  7. Andy Beard
    January 9, 2007 at 6:58 am (5044 days ago)

    p.s. your link to Sleepyblogger… isn’t

  8. Andrew Wee
    January 9, 2007 at 8:35 am (5044 days ago)

    Hi Andy,
    It’s a contextual link.
    Have amended it for easier navigation.

  9. Andrew Wee
    January 9, 2007 at 8:39 am (5044 days ago)

    Relevance is definitely a strong point, else you’d risk alienating your readers.

    I’d signed up with a paid posting company and their requirement was that you had to use the designated anchor text and some of their provided material. Apart from that, there wasn’t an implicit stipulation that you’d need to be positive about the product.

    What you mentioned about opportunistic posting is something worth looking at (once you’ve balanced it against the time spent shortlising and looking at the product, it may not be good time leverage in my opinion).

    Still, it’s good for bloggers to have more access to monetization options, compared to before.

  10. Andrew Wee
    January 9, 2007 at 8:44 am (5044 days ago)

    Rachit,
    Writing crap about something, when you’re among the top 1,000 bloggers will still generate significant publicity far outweighing the cost of the laptop.

    Some in advertising would say there isn’t good or bad publicity. There’s just publicity.

    I think you have a balanced view of paid posting, on the other hand there are some bloggers who blog solely for the purpose of paid blogging and you can see these blogs with unrelated content, and generally poor writing. It’s these segment which gives blogging a bad name, and gives mainstream media ammunition to call blogging a cacophony of amateur content (which perpetuates endless rounds of namecalling between serious bloggers and oldline media).

  11. Robyn Tippins
    January 13, 2007 at 12:02 pm (5040 days ago)

    Andrew, I think PPP doesn’t place a great deal of financial value on their bloggers ($5? geesh) whereas ReviewMe tempted my morality enough to cause me to write an intro review of their service. And, yes, Andy’s right, the review was relevant to my blog AND they paid on time (not to mention there was no way an advertiser could demand a positive review).

    We’ll see if PPP takes a ride on the cluetrain and embraces the constructive (yes, constructive) criticism they’ve received. The idea is not horrible, but their implementation at this point is exactly that.

  12. Andrew Wee
    January 13, 2007 at 3:38 pm (5040 days ago)

    Well, I guess it depends on your approach.

    If you have a personal network of 20-30 blogs, and at $5 a post, you could do something with that.

    If you’ve a blog with a personal branding focus, then I don’t think you’d want to dilute your content quality by doing too much paid stuff, even at $20 or $30 a post.

    At the end of the day, each of us will have to make a calculation of our return on paid posting versus working on our own product or service or affiliate campaign.

  13. pebbleworm
    January 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm (5028 days ago)

    Paid-to-blog is a nice addition to a blog’s income opportunities but the content or product must be relevant. A blogger’s primary concern is his/her readers and putting in something totally way out of topic for the money does not give them justice.

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