I’ve noticed lately a whole crop of new services aimed at bloggers who want to make a living from their output. Google Ads having become a common decorating scheme for many blogs and websites, those always-on-the-move advertisers have started buying into pay-per-post schemes instead. Which sounds like what it is: Advertisers purchase posts in which popular (and not so popular) bloggers write about how much they use or want to use a particular product. Of course they include links to the product homepage and the blogger is paid on the standard two criteria – their general readership (more readers, more money) and number of click-throughs to the site of the sponsor.
A recently growing phenomena, I have come across a number of sites involved in pay-per-post, and even blogs that seem to be nothing but pay-per-post articles in the last few weeks. And quite frankly, I find it pretty insulting – particularly when the writer fails to mention that their posts are sponsored. Like I am supposed to believe that even if they weren’t getting paid for it they would still be shilling for product x because they are so fond of it. These posts are often well-disguised as legitimate writings with links interspersed throughout, but it is painfully obvious that if the writer wasn’t getting paid they wouldn’t be writing about that subject at all (the funniest one I’ve seen was for flights to Egypt written by an American who obviously had no real interest in going there or clue as to where it was – now there’s the way to sell travel tickets!) One service that pays for “product reviews” (write what you really think!) is quite candid when it says that poor reviews for a product will probably not be paid for – eg. you can only write what you think if the company likes what you think. Now that is *some* artistic license.
I have a respectable readership to this blog (not huge, but respectable) and so according to the pay-per-post rules I would be welcome to participate and make some money with my blog. Woo hoo! Three dollars or more per post! Because I have a readership to sell to advertisers. Uh huh. That’s right. They aren’t buying your writing people, they are buying your readers despite all the hype about getting paid for your craft. Some of the worst-written blogs have pay-per-post going on. These advertisers don’t care where their links get slapped up – as long as it’s in a positive context and get some traffic. And your readers make good traffic.
But here’s the thing. If you want loyal readers, you have to be loyal to them. And I’m not sure that selling my readers to advertisers is all that loyal. Nor is pretending to hold opinions I don’t in order to make some company a bit more money. I mean, this all involves some trickery, some core dishonesty to make you all believe that I use product X or want to go to country Y. And for what? A few dollars per post? Talk about whoring yourself out for almost nothing. You’re not even being loyal to yourself in that context.
I know, I know. There are some people who feel that because they contribute “content” to the Internet they should be able to derive a paycheque from it. And there are those who do – popular bloggers who write material that is of interest to a wide variety of readers and thus have made a tidy sum through Google Ads and banner-clicks. I have less of a problem with this because at least the ads look like ads. And really, if the blog is taking up several hours a day in research and writing then it has become a lot more like a business than this one is to me. But the vast majority of bloggers aren’t in this boat. An unbelievable amount of blog “content” on the web is poorly written and unoriginal – which is fine as far as it goes, self-expression and all that – but do people really think they should be getting paid for it?
In any case, I didn’t start blogging to make extra dollars, and I’m not about to sell myself or you out in order to do so now. It’s important to me that I post here honestly and if I review a book or some music it’s because I wanted to do so, not because I got paid for it. My writing, to a large extent, is me. It represents who I am and what I think. I can’t imagine why I would sell that or the people who want to read it for any amount of money.