I noted some lively discussion this week about monetization of social media. Mack at Viral Garden talks about an experiment blogger Joe Jaffe is trying. Joe offered to give space or mentions on his podcast to anyone who would buy him an iPhone. And he's also looking to do it in exchange for a laptop.
As I commented at Mack's place, I'm not blogging to make
money from my blog, although I do consider it as a component of
business-building for my p.r. agency. While I'm enjoying it tremendously, it is something that can build greater visibility and credibility for me and
Some people have strong feelings against making money from a blog. I feel that it's each individual's personal choice. Blogging is a very personal endeavor, and there are few rules at the moment.
I have no problem with someone wanting to make money through his or her blog. Mack asks what value the reader gets when a blogger takes money, products or services. Maybe nothing. Should there even be an obligation for the reader to get some benefit from a sponsorship? Not necessarily, I'd say.
But if I see a blogger's objectivity or
honesty being compromised by sponsorship money, or by other freebies like Nikon
cameras, etc., I simply will not read that blog anymore. Or if I do continue to
read it, I will look at it with a jaundiced eye.
I feel the reader has a right to expect integrity. If sponsorship or freebies color what a blogger writes,
that could be a problem -- for me, at least.
The blogosphere is open territory and we can pretty much do as we please online. I think most bloggers' intent is to provide honest information or opinion, not colored by money or goodies. Some will let their writing be colored by what they get from sponsors or p.r. efforts. That's their choice, and I suppose I'd be wrong to hold everyone to the same standard as I might embrace.
But I was troubled by a recent post by Joe Jaffe. I don't know him, although CK tells me he's nice and a smart guy. I've commented how I feel he kinda sold out with the Nikon program -- not by taking the camera, but by taking it and then shilling for it at his site. In his comment back at me, he said:
"The photo of my son was done purposely to piss off a very specific troll. It was 100% meant to provoke i.e. ordinarily I would never have done it. I was kind of putting myself in an average consumer's shoes, who at the end of the day, are the real audience here...not a bunch of echo-chambering, naval-gazing marketing bloggers :)
I guess the joke was lost on me.
I guess the joke was lost on me.But my feeling, aimed not just at Joe but anyone looking to monetize their blog, is still: make money off your blog if you want. But if you compromise your integrity too much, you'll lose readers. I saw that sentiment echoed in other comments at Mack's place.
Lewis Green raised a very good point in his comment, reminding us we are marketers and a tool we use is advertising. "If we refuse to use the tool on our blogsor our podcasts but still recommend it to our clients," he says, "then I think we are being hypocritical. I have no problem with paid advertising as long as it is identified as an ad and we don't write about the product or service."
That's the key, Lewis. We don't write about a sponsor's product or service just because they're giving us something. We write about it because there's a legitimate reason to do so for the benefit of the readers. It's that same separation of church and state between advertising and editorial content that most journalists adhere to.
I know. Not all of us are trying to be journalists on our blogs, so we don't have to play by the rules of journalism. As for me, I try to go the journalist route.
Make money from your blog. But let the money or goodies color your writing and I and other readers still have a choice -- to read or ignore blogs those that blatantly shill in exchange for money or freebies.
That doesn't make them bad blogs or bad bloggers. It just makes them irrelevant to me.Note: I'm traveling this weekend, so I may not be able to rspond to your comments in a timely manner. Have patience. Thanks.