Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Who's Paying Your Blogger?

In my posts, I frequently give you links that apply to the topic. I imagine that you click on them to see what the heck they're about (if I didn't tell you already). If I ever promote a product or service, you may think that I really believed in it. But what if you found out that I was getting paid to slip those links into my blog . . . and I didn't tell you?

This recently came my way:

Blog for Pay

We would like to pay you to write Blog Postings on your Blog, for our clients.

Our company’s name is Blog Distributor. We take orders from companies that need Blog Postings for their clients and match them to Bloggers like you. We pay you via PayPal weekly. You can probably make more money with us than any other Blog Firm.

Our system is superior to all other Blog Firms, for both Bloggers and buyers of Blog Postings. Our unique capabilities make us very attractive to our clients, which means that we will have a lot of jobs for you if your Blog matches our criteria (most do).

Your Blog can focus on a particular subject or be very general. You can be located anywhere in the USA or Canada. The more popular your Blog is, the more we will pay you per Blog Posting, but every Blog has value to us (minimum of $5 per Blog Posting).

Your Blog must be in the English language and comment about life in the USA or Canada.

Hmmm. I may be naive, but this seems kind of sneaky to me. So I continued to read more, just in case I had the wrong impression. On the Blog Distributor FAQ page, I found this:

How does Blog Distributor feel about Blog Postings having notes on them, stating that they are paid for or sponsored?

Our policy is that we will not accept a Blog Posting that has a note on it that says that it is a paid or sponsored Blog Posting or similar language. We will also not accept any Blog Posting that is in a “Sponsored” or “Paid” (or any other language that communicates the concept) section of a Blog. There are good reasons for our approach. It would be very easy for search engines to slightly modify their “spiders” (search engine software that searches through websites in order to rank them) to check for terms such as “Sponsored Link” or Paid Link”, etc. Then they could devalue, for ranking purposes, any Blog Post that had one of those terms in it. Since our clients (Resellers) are paying for the Blog Postings specifically to increase their Clients’ rankings, this would destroy their motivation to purchase Blog Postings, including yours. So, having such notes on a Blog Posting, are very much against your interests, our interests and our Reseller ’s interests.

When you think about it, there are no notes on links coming from websites or directories that state that they are paid for. So it does not make sense to single out Blogs and demand that they have notes on them about being paid for, when this is not happening to the other types of links.

Years ago, there was a lot of buzz about the sinfulness of using the Internet to make money, because that wasn’t “pure”. Now that whole concept seems “quaint” and old-fashioned. We believe that the day will come, when the idea that doing Blog Postings for money is not “pure”, will also seem “quaint” and old-fashioned also.

Sorry, folks, but I had no idea that average bloggers have been paid to promote products and services, all the while convincing their readers that it's something that they truly believe in. This makes me question many opinions that I've read. Writing a personal blog post for money, when your readers don't know about it, smells bad to me. When you trick people in order to pad your own pocketbook, it'll never be "pure" or "quaint".

I wondered how wide-spread this "business" is, so I did a quick Google search and nine companies came up on the first page. I didn't need to look any more.

Maybe this has been going on for some time. Maybe you already know that you can't trust a blogger who plugs a certain product or service. Maybe I just won't read any more blogs because the fresh perspectives that I thought existed may be merely the opinion of a paid advertiser. Ewww. It seems that more than just a real estate bubble has burst for me.

This would never be a consideration for me. Why would I expect you to read my musings if they are influenced by someone who's paying me? How can I say what I really feel if my words will be reviewed and rejected if they don't present the right image? This just doesn't seem right. I don't run Ads by Google because of my lack of control over the content (you have some say, but not much). But, at least with the Google ads, you know that you're looking at, and linking to, a paid sponsor when you click on them.

So, I ask you, who's paying your favorite bloggers?