This whole pay per post phenomenon has gotten me really intrigued. It seems PPP companies are coming out of the woodwork. Let’s see, there’s PayPerPost.com, CreamAid.com, ReviewMe.com, and coming soon to the blogosphere near you, LoudLaunch.com.
What each of these has in common is that they all pay bloggers to write about advertisers. PayPerPost.com was the first to the current scene, and they got roundly trashed in the blogosphere for not requiring full disclosure and for putting pressure on bloggers to paint advertisers in a positive light.
(BTW, PayPerPost was not the first one to do this. See below a comment about who really got the PPP ball started.)
PayPerPost has apparently learned its lesson and are now requiring disclosure (at least I think they’re requiring it), though I’m not sure what their posture is about giving the blogger free reign in what is said about advertisers.
The other companies seem to be taking the high road and requiring both full-disclosure and not muzzling bloggers in terms of what they say. No requirement to put a positive spin is required.
There is so much flim-flam going on in the blogosphere today, what with the pay per post controversy and the brouhaha about Edleman’s Walmart flog. It used to be that the blogosphere was the last form of honest advertising. Bloggers would speak their mind about a product, service, or company and that was it. True, honest, raw, unabridged and in your face. Take it or leave it.
That was then…that was the old school…blogging purists who prized authenticity and transparency above all other virtues. While I believe transparency and authenticity are paramount, I do believe it’s OK to get paid for blogging. Heck, I did it for nearly a year, and then got paid to teach others about how to blog, and now I’ve been paid to write a book about blogging. But that doesn’t mean I would sell my soul to write positively about things I do not personally endorse, just to make a buck. That dawg won’t hunt, as we say down south.
I do have somewhat disparate thoughts about this whole thing and I’d love to get your feedback. For example, I’m a member of Amazon’s affiliate program. I can create affiliate links to products and get paid for click-thrus (or purchases made from the click-thru. I forget which; you can tell I don’t rely on the service for income). Suppose I want to talk about a book in a blog post and link to it using my affiliate link. Should I disclose that I might make a nickel if someone clicks the link and buys the product? If so, should it be done in the body of the post itself, or could it be a disclaimer included in the blog’s sidebar?
Personally, it strikes me as overkill to mention that it’s an affiliate link. Why? Because I didn’t write the post just to make some money from doing so. I was going to write it anyway, so why not benefit a little. However, if I was writing the post just so I could profit, that’s another matter.
To me, it comes down to motive. Am I writing the post just to make money, or, if I was going to write it anyway, should I be penalized for including a link that might garner some remuneration? Not only that, does the amount I’m going to receive have anything to do with it? Bloggers using the ReviewMe platform stand to make anywhere from $30 to $1000 for a review. An Amazon affiliate link might make someone a few cents. Seems those fall into two distinctly separate categories.
Ultimately, and I’ve said this before, it’s best to keep a purist mentality and just not include any type of money-making tactic in the body of the editorial content itself. Let the ads stay in the sidebar or between the post, but don’t let the post become an ad itself. And, if you do, stay on the safe side and disclaim that’s what it is.
NOTE: The first company I know of to pay bloggers to post was software company Marqui, who had the Marqui Blogosphere Program. They did take the high road and require disclosure. Neither were bloggers required to post positively, only post a couple of times per month.