On Endorsements, Sponsored Posts, Advertising and Trust

dollarYou may have noticed I talk a lot about treating this blog network as a business instead of a blog. This is because my blog exploded once I stopped treating it as, well, a blog. Smart bloggers carefully weigh every single decision made about their blogs, and this especially includes advertising. To not make careful, calculated decisions about everything having to do with your blog, including advertising and sponsorship, is to lose the trust of your readers.

Advertisements Are Not the Root of All Evil

Before I go on, I just want to say it’s not evil to want to earn money as a blogger. If you’re going to put a lot of time and effort into your blog, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t place ads on your blog. You can still be an authority and host ads and you can still be trustworthy and have ads. It doesn’t make you slimy to want to earn from your blogs It’s all in your approach. To not trust a blogger because he chooses to run ads is silly. However it IS definitely a trust issue.  (Which we’re going to get into more below.)

Advertising isn’t evil. Spam is evil. Smarmy sales tactics are evil. Black hat stuff is evil. Having ads on your blog is merely business.

Advertising as a Business Decision

I think any blogger who makes the decision to place ads on his blog, also  has no choice but to treat blogging as a business.  Make no mistake, every ad placed on a blog requires consideration. Even if you’re accepting every ad request coming in, you’re making a business decision not to be selective. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. However, I do feel any blogger wishing to be a success and build trust among his community needs to carefully weigh every single advertisement placed on his blog.

Trusting Your Blogger

See, the way I see it, advertising is about trust. If you trust your favorite blogger to provide you with the best information and to always steer you in the right direction, you can probably count on him to post ads from sources he believes in. If the blogger isn’t in the habit of promoting people, services or products you can probably trust his judgment when he accepts sponsorship.

Endorsements and Sponsored Posts

I don’t feel paid endorsements and sponsored posts are evil, either. As long as the blogger is honest about his affiliation I say, “rock on.” Most bloggers I know won’t take money to talk about or endorse a product or service they feels to be a bad fit for their communities. Most bloggers I know also won’t take money for a sponsored post and offer a dishonest review.  Most sponsors do understand if a blogger doesn’t like the product or service, he’ll be honest in his assessment and they’ll make the decision whether or not to pull out of the partnership.

Can You Trust a Paid Endorsement?

Why not? I think you have to consider the source. Again, is it someone who doesn’t offer endorsements every day or is it someone with a flavor of the week? Is it someone who always has a sales pitch, or someone who rarely sells? Use your best judgment. The bottom line is trust between you and your blogger.

Why Do I Bring This Up?

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a blog post about advertising on blogs. It was from a freelance writing blogger but I don’t remember which one or I’d link to it. The blogger and commentators discussed whether or not they trust a blogger who endorses stuff or has ads. A few of the commentators said they don’t like blogs with ads or bloggers who do paid endorsements.

I wonder who decided it’s a bad thing to earn money as a blogger or that your words have no meaning for bloggers with sponsorship deals. It’s kind of silly to suggest someone put all their time and effort into a blog and not expect some sort of return. It’s about trust. If I was following a blogger for ten years and all of a sudden that blogger endorsed a product or service, it wouldn’t bother me for several reasons. The first reason is I don’t believe bloggers shouldn’t be earning money. It’s not spammy or scammy to put ads on a blog. Second, I’ve been visiting this blogger for a decade, why will I stop because of one paid endorsement? I’m not a fair weathered friend. I don’t stop watching “Lost” because it’s not sponsored by my choice of laundry detergents. If you like what a blogger does or what he has to say, a paid endorsement shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

To not visit a blog simply because it hosts ads is silly. You could be missing out on some great information and sharing among a community.

Once Again…Trust

If my favorite blogger all of a sudden endorsed a company it would probably make me more likely to look into that company. The bloggers I follow don’t take endorsement deals lightly. They turn down the unsavory stuff. That doesn’t mean I’ll rush out and buy what they’re selling, but I’m definitely more likely to research that company.

Let’s talk about this. Do ads make the blog? Are they a deal breaker? Thoughts?

Comments

  1. It all depends on how much the advertiser affects the blog contents. Any blogger that allows his or her integrity to be bought… well, that’s the dealbreaker.

  2. How funny that this should be the topic of the day, as I found an advertising request in my email this morning for my Something Good blog. I feel that integrity is extremely important for the kind of stuff I do on that blog, but I’m also of the mind that it is not inappropriate to earn money with a blog. That said, I know I’m going to need to do a lot of research into the company doing the inquiring so that I can decide if it’s a good fit or not. I feel like I do have a level of trust with the readers there, and I would be making a terrible mistake and not living up to my own values if I just sold them out for a few bucks. Here’s to hoping other bloggers take the same stance!

  3. It’s kind of like getting mad at your favorite TV show for having commercials or your favorite magazine for having print ads. Unless you’re willing to write a big check to say “thanks for providing me with all of this content/entertainment,” it’s really low to criticize a blogger for making money with advertising, as long as it is done so in a transparent way, not a spammy or sneaky way.

  4. This is an important conversation. Often it seems that the same people that say blogs should have no ads are the same individuals that get angry over writers working for free.

    Ads are not a guaranteed source of income, so doesn’t it stand to reason that by not placing any ads you’re working for free? Sorry, but I need to be paid in one form or the other.

    I’m going through affiliate programs now trying to find the least spammy ads and most relevant to my readers- not all bloggers go with the highest paying. I wish these folks that have problem with others not making money AND making money would make up their minds.

  5. Unless my favourite blogger suddenly changes editorial direction/their views to agree with a sponsor when they previously hold the same position, I have no problem with ads or sponsored posts, and I think it’s not realistic to expect a blogger to forego earning revenue on their hard work. Sometimes I wonder who set the policy that bloggers are not allowed to make a living from their blogs? Where was I when the issue was being voted on?

  6. Just like it is the same group of people who thinks that music, books, etc should be free. No matter passionate someone is for their niche, they still have to pay for the overhead of domain registration and hosting.

    For people that chose not to run ads, good for you. But it does not mean that everyone has to follow your path.

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