Should the content of your blog be dictated by those with money? We explore this question in the following article that forms part of out series addressing 29 debates bloggers have about blogging. As your blog begins to get more successful you will inevitably start getting emails from the four corners of the Internet requesting all kinds of things from you. You should expect to see requests for things such as:
- Link building
- Guest blogging
- Product reviews
Unfortunately when your blog is at the early stage of getting noticed you’ll most likely find these requests are of low quality.
- The emails will be from automated link building scripts that will require you to log into a portal to register your continued interest.
- The product reviews will be from low grade websites you’ve never heard of and would never consider using personally.
- Guest bloggers will hand over poor quality repetitive content that might endanger the fledgling growth of your blog.
As your site grows the quality of these requests improves!
Should I Accept Paid for Posts?
Most of us plan to make money from our blogs, so on the face of it accepting sponsored posts seems like a good step forward to meet that goal. However I would encourage you to think carefully before going down this road.
It is tempting to think that the standard disclaimer will cover you, have you ever read the following on a blog: “I only accept sponsored messages for products I use myself “. I bet you have – many times!
Now of course, in some cases, this may well be true! But after a while you begin to notice that some bloggers don’t appear to be as sincere as you initially thought. This becomes apparent when you add up the recommendations and realise they must be using 20 keyword tracking tools, 10 mass mailing suites and own 5 laptops!
I have no doubt that many bloggers who accept sponsored posts start with the best intentions, but it’s a slippery slope. How long before you think “hmm my readers don’t really know if I use this product or not, and it does pay out a nice comission fee, one little post can’t hurt…”
So my view is simply to not to post any paid for content at all. If people want their products on my pages then they are welcome to use their adwords to target specific adunits on my sites. This means that I am free to blog about products and services that I want to talk about becuase I think they are cool, and not because someone is paying me to do so!
If a product is good, I will talk about it because I want to share it
Maintain Your Integrity
There are some popular blogs that have shunned their humble beginnings and now appear to exclusively push sponsored products.
Whether these are on an affiliate commission basis or an upfront one time fee I don’t know – and I don’t think there is a big difference. But these sites seem to have lost all of their original integrity. In some cases I have watched genuinely superior make money online blogs slowly erode away their readership with continuous recommendations for products that promise the world but deliver little.
I’d even go a step further and say that some of these sites are downright exploitative. You will spot these blogs, they are the ones stuffed with high pressure sales posts one after the other that only exist to convince you that your blog will fail without their help. These people know that many bloggers are desperate to increase their earnings and are most likely struggling to get started. I’m sure you know what I mean, you read the post and start to get excited, thinking that this new tool will be the one to provide the break through.
Sure, there are some great tools out there on the web – but research multiple products, compare prices, and if all else fails go over to Amazon and buy a book on SEO or WordPress, or whatever you want to learn about. You’ll get a professionally produced resource for around a tenner.
There is so much free information out there on the net any up and coming blogger can get started, all you need is an Internet connection, time and plenty of motivation! Your success will be down to the work that you do.
Want to publish Paid for Content? Here are some Tips
OK, so this isn’t something I go in for, but I accept that there is a time and a place for this kind of thing. And like other bloggers I do have affiliate links around my sites so am I really that different from someone who pushes sponsored content?
If you are going to do it, here are some tips:
- Keep your review honest. Just because they are paying you to do the review it doesn’t mean that you have to love their product. It will take a strong nerve to post up a negative review but make it clear when accepting the deal that you will speak your mind – for better or worse!
- Be transparent. Tell your readers that you make money from certain links, tell them that a post has been sponsored. Most of your readers will respect you for telling them and if your blog has a strong community vibe then they may actually be very happy to support you.
- If you wheel out the old line “I only recommend products I use” then make sure you mean it. And please, if you stop using that product then update your old post before recommending a new one! Failing to do this makes you look like a chump!
- If you accept paid for links then remember to “no follow” them. Yes, this does mean the link isn’t actually so valuable to your partner as they’d like but if Google finds out you have been selling links then your site might be hit by a penalty. Google doesn’t mind if you sell links as long as you no follow them – however they do not like it when people use their buying power to manipulate their results!
Blogercise is all about building a site in the longterm, you will have no problems monetising your site once the traffic begins to come your way.