What's Happening

A Post about Pay-Per-Post

Some blogging issues have been on my mind since Stuart Robinson called our attention to As the Garden Grows.  Although he lists that blogger as one to watch, he disapproves of her use of Pay Per Post, saying, "It’s not that I’m against sponsored posts but she whores her garden blog to topics about PayDay Loans, Coupons, vaccuum cleaners." 

Well, that got my attention and sure enough, potential advertisers are urged to "Hire Me" for a minimum of $30 per post, plus a 10 percent service fee.  (That seemed awfully cheap until I read on the Pay Per Post site that bloggers will promote products for a mere $5!) She also uses the services of Payu2blog.com. 

Honestly, I’m a little shocked by all this, especially since Stuart writes that "hundreds" of garden bloggers are doing this now.  Can that be true?  Because the kind of blog I’d imagine taking pay for content would be more like this one featured by Pay Per Post.com as their Blog of the Day.   You know, a blog that’s not working too hard to establish credibility. But readers, what do you guys think of this new development among us? 

And I have a question for Stuart:  Does this practice only bother you when it’s off-topic?  I almost have the opposite reaction – that at least if it’s off-topic the pay-for-content nature of the article is obvious.  It’s when gardenbloggers write about gardening that the motivation for the article isn’t clear, and that’s something I really want to know.  In print, at least in reputable publications, there’s the disclaimer "Advertisement" or "Advertorial" at the top, disclaimers that should be in larger print if you ask me.  When I see one I stop reading because I have no interest in advertising copy.  So shouldn’t online articles carry similar warnings?

Speaking of going off-topic, I was recently offered "$260 immediately via PayPal" to install links to 5 different products on the home page of my Sustainable Gardening site.  It took lots more emails to finally determine exactly what the advertisers would be selling and the answer is: INSURANCE.  Remember, the links would have to be on my home page, so readers would see immediately that I’ve whored myself, as Stuart would say.  I took a pass on that offer but was interested enough ($260 immediately!) to worry that trying to make money on the Wild Wild Web is a slippery, slippery slope.

Posted by on October 2, 2007 at 5:48 am, in the category What's Happening.
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39 Responses to “A Post about Pay-Per-Post”

  1. Colleen says:

    I’ve never done a paid post, or sponsored post, as they’re also sometimes called, and I know I never will. I have ads on my site, and every once in a while I’ll add an Amazon link to a book that I’ve read recently, but that’s as far as it goes for me. My blog is the only place I write that is truly and completely filled with my own thoughts and interests. If I started posting for pay, it would cease to be that way, at least for me.

    I don’t have a problem with sponsored posts on others’ blogs. I do appreciate that some bloggers who do it plainly state “this is a sponsored post,” much like that “advertorial” label you mentioned. I’m like Stuart in that it annoys me to no end to see things like payday advances written about on garden blogs. If you have a “garden blog,” then, at least the way I see it, every post should be somewhat garden related. Otherwise, it seems that you are just completely “whoring” your blog and your content.

  2. Colleen says:

    Addendum: I said “every post should be somewhat garden related.” I meant “most posts.” Having your own blog also gives you the freedom to write about any other non-related crap you want. I just think payday advances are a far stretch :-)

  3. I’m ambivalent even about advertising on blogs. But I put up with it on ours and other sites because I think good bloggers just ignore those sidebars and write whatever is on their minds.

    As for Tricia, the first post on her blog invites me to join something called AuctionAds so she can help me make money, too! She’s turning something pure and interesting–the blogosphere–in a Ponzi scheme. I have too much contact with cheesy hustlers as it is. I certainly wouldn’t turn to a gardening blog in order to meet another.

  4. Maybe I’m too much of a purist, but I just can’t succumb to the lure of cash in exchange for my integrity. I would not read anyone’s blog who would not have similar standards. Life in the 21st century is a bombardment of advertising. I agree with Stuart’s assessment that such pandering for money denigrates the blogger & the blog. The adage “The medium is the message” applies here. A couple of little bars off to the side are not a problem, but when it rises to the level of the mentioned blog, it becomes overwhelming. Is the blog about gardening, or about selling? If the latter, no thanks.

  5. Colleen says:

    There’s one more point I want to make, and then I’m done (you’ve really opened a can of worms here, Susan! Love ya for it!) There is a growing movement among bloggers of becoming “probloggers,”–bloggers who make a decent part time or full time income from blogging. There are a few of them amongst us garden bloggers, and they do it quite tastefully—they don’t jeopardize their content or their integrity, and still manage to make a tidy income. I have absolutely no problem with that—I totally understand the desire to be your own boss, and if you can do it by blogging, good for you. My problem is, as with Tricia’s blog (and I feel like a real bitch picking on one person, but she’s so obvious about it) when the selling becomes more important than the content. When ads and pay-per-post posts and giant flashing banners demand more screen space than content, to me it just looks like the web equivalent of the corner party store—not somewhere I want to spend any time in.

    BTW Susan, I got the same offer for insurance ads on ITGO—I turned them down too. And you’re right, they weren’t very forthcoming about what they were selling!

    Okay. I’m done hijacking Susan’s thread :-)

  6. bill says:

    One of the blogs I read occasionally has started to have a few “sponsored posts.” At least they are labeled as such and the content is off-topic, so it is pretty obvious.

    I don’t mind the amazon books or the blogads but I think sponsored posts are crossing a line. Perhaps if they were in their own special box in the sidebar and with a separate RSS feed

  7. Pamela says:

    It seems logical that the pay per post garden blogs will weed (p.i.) themselves out rather quickly. What gardener will return to such a site?

  8. 3 thoughts:

    First… I’d DEFINITELY be willing to pay some one $30 to NOT write some of the inane tripe I come across. (I think I’ve found a definitive source of information or insight (cued up nicely) and then I keep reading and discover that I’ve given a small part of my life – a part I’ll never get back – to an idiot. And then I wonder if I’ll have to answer for this waste-ing some day.)

    Second… If people want to (attempt) to monetize their blogs, that’s fine. I hope they make money. But it makes their blog “less.” Even now, as I’m typing, I’m looking at ad for “Quality Window Treatments From the Experts” (who advertise on Garden sites). That just makes me LAUGH.

    “Hello… I was reading about compost tea and saw that you were in the window treatment business and thought I’d buy some from you.”

    Bottom line, a wanna-be-monetized-through-advertsing-blog is INSTANTLY recognizable. I’ll drop by and look around. But EVERYTHING there (here) means (a great deal) less than ANYTHING written by a gardener/ garden enthusiast who is just sharing his or insights, observations. It just does. It is just more hype in a world full of it.

    Third, this is not to say that I’m anti-opportunity. I believe there are savvy ways to use these useful and interesting community connections of ours to effectively and meaningfully market products and services.

    I just don’t believe traditional advertising on new media is one of them. It isn’t savvy, useful, or meaningful. I doubt its effectiveness (though I COMPLETELY see its COST-EFFECTIVENESS).

    Blog advertising is a gnarled club to beat us about the head. It is un-fun and un-interesting. I have always thought less of this site for it. (But thankfully there is plenty of good here.)

    The Amazon Associates thing is brilliant though. It allows us to recommend things WE recommend and benefit from it without diluting or assaulting anything. Further, we get penalized if we use our OWN associates links to buy. Finally, it ONLY works if it is successful.

    If you build a site whereby you gain perceived expertise in the community about A, B & C, it is intuitive and useful that I would follow your links about A, B & C. But when you start linking to D, E, F & G I may or may not go. The carrot for you, the wanna-earn-dinero blogger, is money. The stick is your expertise, insight and interest.

    I guess my big question is: what is the meaningful difference between pay-per-post and what is happening here ALREADY? (It doesn’t to ME, the reader, how you get paid. All I know is that I enter here and put my head down to protect myself from the assault.

    For me, blogging is not a professional activity. I wouldn’t charge a neighbor to discuss my delphiniums and certainly won’t solicit dollars from anyone else for the same end. That’s just me.

    Now… not that my opinion matters to anyone but me… but if you’d like to publish something about gardening I’d be thrilled to read it. If you want to post about making a few dollars blogging, I find that boring. Sorry.

    Anybody have a video of a giant flower opening or something? That was cool. How ’bout some one doing some one wrong? That’d be good too.

  9. Heather says:

    I haven’t come across any blogs, gardening or otherwise, with this going on. But then I don’t tend to read a bunch of different ones. I have my favorites in my RSS feed and don’t have time for much else.

    I’m betting the “insurance” one is a scam to get your paypal information. That’s the stuff that bothers me… when crooks are getting away with stuff because people are getting greedy. Beyond that, I figure the “market” will determine whether these schemes even work for people. If I did come across something like you guys are talking about, I just wouldn’t go back to that blog. I’m not going to spend my free time sorting thru marketing drivel, I don’t care how good the real blog content is.

  10. jodi says:

    You’ve opened up a very interesting can of worms here, Susan. (native worms? Invasive species that are gonna eat the planet? Gummy worms? You decide.)

    I make my living as a fulltime, freelance writer. About 75 percent of my income comes from writing about garden-related issues. While I’m quite seasoned and fairly knowledgeable about certain aspects of gardening, I stress I’m not an expert, in that I don’t own a nursery or landscape company. I have been gardening and exploring plants since I was a kid, and I read voraciously, and learn from others too, so that always keeps my writing interesting–or so some of my readers tell me. I haven’t had any anti-fan mail recently, anyway…;-)

    I look at my blog, and the email newsletter I send out, as a way of saying ‘Thank You’ to my fellow gardeners, from whom I learn so very much. They are freebies, and while I might eventually add Amazon Associates to my blog because I love recommending books, I’m not interested in pimping for advertisers for a few extra dollars. Occasionally I get the same sorts of solicitations you mention, Susan, and I simply cast them by the wayside.

    When I do write about a book, product or plant, it’s from experience whether growing the plant or reading the book or using the product–and if I was sent something to trial, I say that too. If I don’t like something, chances are I won’t write about it at all–there are too many good things to review.

    And these bloggers like the one Stuart mentions? I don’t read them at all. It’s so obvious that they’re just schilling to make a few bucks, and there’s no information to speak of–nor quality writing. I don’t know who I have more disdain for: the companies who take advantage of these sorts of people to push their products, or those who actually think they’re doing something worthwhile by writing banal posts (often in point form with unfinished thoughts like that silly PPP blog of the day) The companies must be selling crap if they will pay crappy bloggers to churn out inane crap about whatever crap they’re getting to shill for them.

    Life’s too short to drink bad wine, eat mediocre chocolate–or read poor writing.

  11. trey says:

    Blogging is just like brick and mortar retail business. There are tons out there but only a few worth visiting. It comes down to trust. You will continue visiting any business, online or not based on whether you trust the business.

    It seems lot of people are looking for a way to profit off their blogging. Thats fine, but as soon as you loose the trust of the audience you’ll be toast.

  12. trey says:

    Blogging is just like brick and mortar retail business. There are tons out there but only a few worth visiting. It comes down to trust. You will continue visiting any business, online or not based on whether you trust the business.

    It seems lot of people are looking for a way to profit off their blogging. Thats fine, but as soon as you loose the trust of the audience you’ll be toast.

  13. trey says:

    Blogging is just like brick and mortar retail business. There are tons out there but only a few worth visiting. It comes down to trust. You will continue visiting any business, online or not based on whether you trust the business.

    It seems lot of people are looking for a way to profit off their blogging. Thats fine, but as soon as you loose the trust of the audience you’ll be toast.

  14. John says:

    I have no problem with sponsored posts. This is a new media and advertisers are trying old models that are not very good. In time this will evolve as they figure out what will work.

    I also do not think ones integrity is damaged by accepting payment for writing a post. If Fine Gardening asked me to write an article (not holding my breath), I would expect and accept payment. Some of that money would be coming from advertisers. We seem to be fine with this model. The publishers are just acting as middle-men. In publishing a blog there are no middle-men. I am the publisher and have control over who advertises and what I write. If my integrity becomes damaged it is because of what I write and whom I’ve chosen as advertisers.

    There are people out there with little integrity trying to make a fast buck, there always has been and always will be, but to say that anyone who accepts payment for writing a blog is selling out is unfair.

    This past weekend I attended The Podcast and New Media Expo in Ontario, CA and a comment that was made several times was that once a person can make a living at blogging, podcasting etc… and devote full time to it the quality of their work improves.

    We have no problem with print media writers being compensated for their work why should it be taboo for the new media.

  15. eliz says:

    Being paid directly by an advertiser to shill their product AS a blog post or article and being paid by a publication to write are two ENTIRELY different things. I edit a magazine, but I don’t allow the writers to work directly with advertisers. That is simply not how it is done; there is a firewall between editorial and advertising with reputable publications and let’s acknowledge that.

    As for ads ON blogs, seprarate from posts and unconnected with posts. I usually don’t even notice them, just as I don’t pay too much attention to ads in magazines. The ads help the magazine exist. I’m not sure if ad revenue from most blogs is really a great help to the blogger, so I’m ambivalent about it. It doesn’t bother me though.

    The situation Susan describes, is, however, quite different, and that is the type of blog I wouldn’t bother with.

  16. Susan Harris says:

    Clerk, you said: “I guess my big question is: what is the meaningful difference between pay-per-post and what is happening here ALREADY?… All I know is that I enter here and put my head down to protect myself from the assault.”

    Honestly, if you don’t see a meaningful difference, you’do better stick with the old media where things aren’t so confusing. Even more so if Google ads in the SIDEBAR feel like an assault to you. Me, I only feel that way when Google ads are placed in the prime reading space on my computer screen – across the top or in the middle of every damn post or article. Those are both very common practices but to me the LOOK of gardening sites and blogs is important, so I’m turned off by articles that feature ads in the middle of them, visuals be damned.

    SAme goes for those double-underlined Google ads that pop up at you with information about the most absurdly off-topic things.

    And Hank, if individual Rant readers find even HALF our posts interesting I think we’ve done our job. Especially if the “boring” ones provoke 554-word comments.

  17. “Honestly, if you don’t see a meaningful difference, you’do better stick with the old media where things aren’t so confusing… provoke 554-word comments.”

    Wow. Please pardon me. I honestly do not see a meaningful difference. I see stylistic variations. This very page is promoting the food network, bookstores, flooring, T-shirts, and a tip jar. (And then there’s the garden ads and your actual books (which makes some kind of sense).)

    To differentiate between “enthusiastic shills” and “very enthusiastic shills” is… well… it doesn’t concern me at all. A shill is a shill.

    Accept my apology for the “provoked” 554-words.

    I think you are correct. I’d better be more discerning in my media consumption.

  18. firefly says:

    Ads are starting to bother me more and more because a lot of them are animated which eats up memory and bandwidth. It started taking longer and longer to download this blog because of the fade-in, fade-out things from Park Seed et al. to the point that I wound up getting AdBlock.

    Forget the Net Neutrality question; little sites hoping to make a few bucks get loaded with things that slow them down enough, and a lot of people just won’t bother to visit. Jakob Nielsen (www.useit.com) has documented the impatience of Internet surfers over and over. And all the animated flashy video stuff certainly isn’t accessible to people with disabilities.

    I do purchase things on the Internet, but I almost never click through on an ad. Not seeing the ads here doesn’t bother me at all.

  19. bright says:

    wow! what a neat thread over here… personally, i’m trying to resist monetizing my blog at all. i try not to think less of people who do monetize theirs, but as the county clerk said, it compromises their integrity nonetheless. the blogs that are basically nothing more than networking advice are the worst i think, because it is resembling a ponzi scheme.

    it’s unfortunate because this is such a powerful medium. i thought colleen had a brilliant exchange on her blog about blogging (not networking) which was full of insights. it’s those opportunities for interactivity and intelligent conversation that i enjoy about the blogosphere. it’s our own choice to get caught up in what is really just a massive popularity contest, instead of spending time generating the content that drove you to blog in the first place.

    william gibson’s book pattern recognition is an interesting exploration of how advertising corrupts speech and human relationships. i hope more authors are exploring the nature of how we give up our social currency without knowing it.

  20. Tricia says:

    Wow. Who would have thought my little HOME and garden site would cause so much controversy?

    Looking through this site, Stuart Robinson site and several of those who have commented I see a number of ads – Amazon, Blogads, Google Adsense, some text link ads on a few Linkshare and others. Yet many of you state you don’t believe in advertising on blogs? Huh???

    Now, just to set the record straight. As the Garden Grows (link is incorrect BTW)is a Home and Garden site. It’s not just a gardening site and never has been.

    I’m renovating my home and in the 17 months that this blog has been in existence I’ve written several posts about my renovation projects, do it yourself projects and other tips for use both inside and outside the home.

    My main goal in creating As the Garden Grows was to create a site that helped me record what plants I grew each season and how they did through the year. I also wanted to keep track of my home reno projects.

    I’ve tried very hard to do things for the garden blog community. Take a look at Green Thumb Sunday. A lot of Gardeners love participating in GTS.

    If people like reading the blog and posts, or participating in the gardening meme I’ve created, and or if they learn something from any of the posts then I think that’s Great. If they don’t, well there are plenty of other sites on the Internet to visit.

    Yes I have written about loans on my site. Four times in fact. Only four times. The last was in early June. If I didn’t learn from financial troubles that I’ve had in the past I would not have a home now nor would I have a garden. If you actually take a moment to read those posts you’ll see that I related them to my personal experiences. They are not just ADS.

    In fact none of the posts in which I’ve been paid to write about a product or site have been true ads. I always include my personal experiences and relate it in some way to the home or garden. Many of the things that I’m paid to write about I would have, and often have, written about for free.

    I choose what to write about and have turned down many offers for products or sites that I do not believe in or that I do not think will benefit my readers.

    Am I to assume that none of the products written about on this site have been promotional in anyway? That no money or perhaps a free product trial hasn’t taken place?

    I rarely write posts for Payperpost on this blog. I do not write posts for PayU2Blog on this site either. I do write the occasional post for Sponsored Reviews and ReviewMe and a few private posts for advertisers who have contacted me directly. I do not get paid $5 for a post. I tend to get paid a substantial amount more than that.

    The current post for AuctionAds is NOT a paid ad. I wrote it because I thought my visitors might like to know that they could make $25 for signing up for Auctionads. They don’t have to even use the service to get that money. Who wouldn’t like a free $25?

    I’m not a shill or a whore. I have a valid reason for writing paid posts on my site and for advertising some products or websites in my sidebars.

    It’s called earning a living.

    I do not owe any of you this explanation however, this is the only way that I earn money these days.

    I have Crohn’s disease and I’m often too sick to even walk out my door and enter my garden let alone work in it or elsewhere. If you’d read my blog you’d probably know that already.

    As a result of this disease I’ve been stuck at home, too sick to work, and I do not have any other source of income.

    Until someone offers to pay for my domain registration, hosting fees and in other words PAYS me to write my blog the way THEY want to see it I will continue to write the occasional paid post on my site. Picking ones that I believe my READERS will find beneficial.

    Oh that would again be a whore blog wouldn’t it if someone paid my hosting and directed what I’d write about too?

    My readers know what I’m doing and not one of my regular readers has complained. I think my site visitors are smart enough to know what they are reading and if they don’t find a post useful – paid or otherwise – I think they are wise enough to just skip it and move on to the next post. I’ve always been honest with my visitors and if they start to tell me they don’t like what they are seeing I many change what I’m doing to some degree, but until that time I intend to continue writing about things that I think my readers can use.

    Plus, traffic is growing daily. I must be doing something right even if you don’t think I am.

  21. Oldroses says:

    After reading this post and (most) of the comments, I had to get up from my PC and take a long, long walk to calm myself. The incredible arrogance of the blog author and commenters is obscene. If any of you had bothered to read some of Tricia’s writings, you would know that she has been out of work for quite a while. She is doing what she can to keep the wolf from the door. Obviously none of you have ever been in that situation. I have. There were times in the past when things were so bad in my house that my child ate and I didn’t. I think all of you should step out of your privileged lives and mingle with less fortunate people. Learn to have some empathy and understanding.

  22. Stuart says:

    Ok. Let’s go back to the original problem that Susan explained.

    Tricia, you call your blog As the Garden Grows. Your blurb in Technorati states, “Gardening in Toronto Canada. Tricia talks about what’s blooming in her Canada zone 6b, USD zone 5b garden and gives advice to other gardeners. Learn about rose gardening, and planting annuals and perennials.”

    If a person visits your site they expect to read about gardening related issues. If you want to write about insurance, shopping experiences and better budgeting methods start a finance blog but don’t pretend your blog is something that it’s not.

    I’m empathetic to your plight and the suffering you must experience with your disease and for this I wish I could help. The only advice I could give is that the track you are taking is very short-sighted and only has a limited life span.

    The reason people pay for sponsored posts is to leverage your Pagerank for their own purposes. However, Google are already wising up to this practice – [read http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/text-links-and-pagerank/ and it is only a matter of time before this income stream dries up.

    My advice to those who *whore* their hard work is to find better streams of advertising to pay their bills.

    Tricia, your PR is already 0 which means Google sees your site as spam. However, if you were to desist and instead continue writing better gardening posts higher quality advertisers would be flocking to pay you for your traffic alone.

    Your blog has much to offer and I’m sure many high-quality garden sites would pay handsomely to advertise on it. It will take more effort on your behalf but the rewards are far greater.

  23. Tricia says:

    Thank you for understanding – Oldroses.

    Stuart. First the link in the first paragraph to my site is wrong. My site is a PR4. Second … have you read my blog lately??? Finance? Insurance? I haven’t written about any of those things for MONTHS.

    The only person that’s commented in this post that seems to have actually read my blog ever or even recently is Oldroses. If she has a suggestion for me I’d be happy to listen to her with an open mind, but for those of you who’ve never read my site for more than a moment well you don’t know me and you obviously don’t know what I write about regularly and believe me it’s not Payday loans or Insurance. It’s about gardening, my garden, home decor, home renovation, DIY and the occasional posts about products or services for the home or garden.

  24. Susan Harris says:

    Wow, what a firestorm! I’m flamed from both sides, both the pro and anti-ad factions, so I must be a moderate.

    In fact, I’m looking for answers myself to the question of how to monetize without losing credibility or being terribly annoying to readers – because my last employer went belly-up 15 months ago and I’m trying to make a living gardenwriting and coaching. So I’m VERY big on writers getting paid, whether they publish in print or on line.

    As Elizabeth noted, the distinction between advertising and content is usually made clear in print. And funny story about that (not really). Recently a magazine gave me an assignment – the first of many, they promised – but with my first article I discovered that the editor expected me to simply promote their advertisers. So I turned down further assignments but dang – they paid well.

    And even more so here on the wild wild web, we’re facing these difficult issues and it’s probably a healthy discussion for us to have.

  25. Lou says:

    People who blog, choose to do it for themselves, not for others. It may become simply a hobby for them, or perhaps a passion. If they choose to work for such companies online that pay them, then so be it. It is their given right. No one has the right to police how people choose to do with their blog. You choose what you do, because it’s something you enjoy. They do what they do, because it is something they enjoy. If people do not like it, they simply can click the X and leave. No one is forcing anyone to read paid posts. No one is making a person step inside, the door gets locked and you are not free to leave.

    I think by opening up this can o’ worms is a huge deal. You’re simply stating that your way is better than those who post ads on their blog, and let’s be real here, there is no one correct way to blog.

    People blog from their heart. They blog because they want to. They blog to earn a little bit of money to buy something or pay the bills. But they blog because it is something they truly enjoy.

    Seriously, this issue has been beat over and over again, why bother and why pick on people who don’t live up to your standards of blogging. There are NO standards of blogging.

    If posting ads or blogging for money is not your thing, then do not do it. It really is as simple as that. Don’t frown on others because it is something they enjoy.

    Blog snobbery is becoming the new way to blog. It is such a shame.

  26. adsrevil says:

    this blog is evil because you have an ad for the iron chef that is off topic… and this post you made is also off – topic. I am never ever coming back to it.

  27. Susan Harris says:

    It’s very true that there are no standards for blogging, which is why we’re exploring the issue – like on-line writers have been doing forever in their professional associations.
    And if there’s a standard I hoped to introduce in my post, it’s transparency. Standard stuff, but it’s a great way to prevent all kinds of problems.

    Speaking of transparency, I’d also like to see commentors have the decency to say who they are. Take, for example, “adsrevil” above. Whether that’s tongue-in-cheek or he/she really means it, I don’t appreciate the phony email address and phony email provider, and giving Advertising Age’s website as his/her URL. See, now we’ll all wonder if it’s the official position of Advertising Age that blogs that ask questions about advertisers’ relationships to bloggers are evil. As if professional journalists would use that word to describe a bunch of garden bloggers.

  28. bright says:

    holy moses! this is getting more exciting by the day.

    tricia, i do read your blog. not a ton, but probably a few times a month. i think some people have been harsh here, but it’s sort of the nature of the medium to invite scrutiny of other people’s behavior and thoughts. it’s like public journaling. you write a lot of good stuff which is why i read your blog, and i don’t hold it against you for choosing to monetize your blog. but at the same time, it changes the experience. it goes from the feeling of reading someone else’s insights to watching their tv show, and some intimacy is lost.

    i’m glad you came and commented. you raise all the points you should. but i do think these things are important to discuss as our media evolves. lou might find them judgmental, but really, this is all pretty useful marketing advice for everyone reading. donkelephant has an article up on monetizing blogs that is interesting from a technical perspective. i wonder if any of his fellow political bloggers are noting his wandering off topic ;)
    http://donklephant.com/2007/10/03/how-to-make-money-from-a-political-blog/

    and earlier, i’d said colleen had a brilliant exchange on her blog (and she does!)… but the specific one i meant was really on cold climate gardening, which is kathy purdy’s. d’oh! sorry both of you!
    http://www.coldclimategardening.com/2007/07/06/blogging-tips-wanted-for-garden-writers/

  29. Ed Bruske says:

    we are propositioned in daily life from every possible angle. It’s a blight on the landscape, an assault on the senses. Why in the world should we subject ourselves to more of it voluntarily on our computers?

    Having been a writer for more than 30 years, it seems to me the first ad you accept begins to erode your precious credibility as an independent voice. But then, maybe some people need the money more than the independence. Readers should be smart enough to judge for themselves and make an informed decision about who they want to read, and believe.

  30. I’d be just as happy not to have any ads here. But there is a difference between advertising and advertorial. As Susan said, that difference is transparency.

    Besides, I think we’ve proven a healthy willingness to bite the hand that feeds us.

  31. eliz says:

    I really hate that word–advertorial. (It’s no more a word than yardening.) We have it in the magazine, but at the bottom of every page it says “paid advertisement” and I take great pains to separate it from our editorial content. It is still confusing and I regret the necessity for it.

    On the other hand, some of those advertorials do contain info about some local businesses that has helped our readers.

    The point is, it’s NOT the same and we try to make that clear to our readers.

    I just got an email–such a coincidence–from a company asking me to put a paid post on my blog. I’m not bothering to even answer. It would kill what little credibility I have with my small group of readers. (In fact, I can scarcely believe anyone would think it worth their while to pay me! Maybe it’s a hoax–I’ll never know.)

  32. Philip Voice says:

    Some interesting discussion.

    My personal view on ‘problogging as it has been labelled is somewhat muddy.

    I am lucky enough to not (at the moment) have to go to work.

    I write two blogs (one sporadically) and the other – Landscape Juice – on a more regular basis. I try to cover as many topics as possible from real personal stories to other’s stories, in fact a real range.

    I have embedded Google Gdsense and I use Amazon books and the Amazon shop. I also use affiliate codes when discussing lawn care for anyone who would like to buy lawn turf.

    I do believe that a potential buyer who has come to my blog may well be looking directly, after they have taken advice, to purchase a related item or material to the subject matter.

    However, yesterday and the day before I wrote about two separate topics that were different but the experience was personal to me and some thing that I did not want to receive a fee for.

    One was the loss of a pet through contracting Tetanus and the other was the threat to the Horse Chestnut outside the window in Amsterdam that Anne Frank wrote her diary.

    My Granfather was part of the liberation force of Bergen-Belsen and I only knew in the last few years of his life how it affected him.

    Whilst I would like to be self sufficient eventually to enable me to continue writing without ‘Whoring’ myself I will but sometimes the two do not sit comfortably with me.

  33. jodi says:

    There’s another facet that hasn’t come up here–or if it did, I missed it. And perhaps it doesn’t really fit in this discussion. Sometimes we bloggers write about something we’ve used, a book we’ve read, or other items relating to our gardening world: when the business or author or artist is a small company (or just an individual) trying to get going and get the word out. I’ve written on my blog about a neat little book about growing flowers from seed; about a local artisan who makes metal sculptures from recycled oil barrels; and about a small company that produces seaweed fertilizer; these are all local (Nova Scotian) people and I know that a good chunk of my readers (mostly non-commentors) come from my province. I like to help other people, just as others have helped me. I receive no payment for this sort of posting, of course, but I figure it balances out in the karma of the universe.

  34. Emma says:

    Maybe I’m being obtuse, but here’s what I fail to understand:

    1. Many commenters claim to be writers for x number of years. Most writers I know wish to be paid for their craft. Whether it’s the freelance magazine, the novel writer or any variety of print writer known. All of them hope to see their names in print and draw a check for their service. Which begs the question – would we have called Erma Bombeck a whore because she was paid to write? Sylvia Plath? Ok, she killed herself – maybe because her blog wasn’t making any money, but I digress…

    2. Do all of you that detest any advertising eschew Better Homes and Gardens Magazine? HGTV? For that matter, do you decline to subject yourselves to ANY television, print or radio? Heaven knows it’s LOADED with advertising. Better to just stick with sattelite radio and make sure to stay away from the talkie stations. They have ads. It’s loaded with whores for sure. Ick!

    3. Do you have a job? Any job at any location for any purpose? Are you paid? Does that mean you’re whoring your services to your employer?

    So what’s my point? We all seek to find financial stability in some form or fashion. Some of us seek it in the form of a job. A 9-5 deal where we have a steady check in return for our services. Some of us wish to be more free-spirited. We hope to walk a more creative path and maybe use our talents to entertain or possibly teach others. In return, we hope to make a dollar or two – no different than when you go to work every monday morning and look forward to that friday paycheck.

    By writing a blog post and having an affiliate link in it, a recommendation to a product the writer has been exposed to, or even an out and out ad – It is assumed that you the reader are intelligent enough to do further investigation to confirm the integrity of the endorsement.

    Which leads me to end my little rant here with a few observations:

    1. He/She who has ever purchased a product due to a printed article, commented endorsement (think amazon recommendations), or ad on television, radio or magazine/newspaper – is a hypocrite for condemning others including these same things on their sites. You are the one perpetuating the trend. Not to mention the economy. Imagine if no one ever bought anything they read or heard about…

    2. If you’re not intelligent enough to research a product referral, then possibly – just possibly – you reap what you sow.

    3. At the end of the day, we are all whores.

  35. MrBrownThumb says:

    I should preface this by saying that I am part of Tricia’s meme. And that my little garden blog(s) is monetized as all get out. But my reply isn’t one based on loyalty or anything because aside from the GTS posts I don’t read Tricia’s blog much.

    With that said…

    I’ve left a similar comment on Stuart’s blog. I’m a little disappointed in the comments and vitriol directed at Tricia. As a blogger that monetizes his blog I don’t really feel that I can cast stones at her doing PPPs. I joined PPP to see what they had available but haven’t participated because there hasn’t been anything that I liked.

    What I do find funny is that a few months back I got an e-mail from someone asking me to blog about their new fertilizer. I turned them down because I wasn’t getting anything out of the deal. I did suggest that they give away samples to bloggers so they could gain some favor.

    A couple of months after that I was surprised (I even commented here) to see a post on Garden Rant about this fertilizer and that you were giving away some free samples.

    Wasn’t that shilling? Didn’t you get a good from this company and then blog about the company and then gave away their product? Didn’t you also get a link from their blog for blogging about the fertilizer? How was that different than doing a PPP?

    The only difference in these two situations is that Tricia is smart enough to “whore” her blog out for money while Garden Rant only gets a bottle of fertilizer. Maybe I’d have more respect for yours and Stuart’s opinions on this matter if you didn’t, like many of us, monetize your blog.

    But even if this blog was ad free you still “whored” your blog out for a bottle of “poop.” How sad is that?

  36. susan harris says:

    Maybe this will help. It’s part of the Blogger’s Code of Ethics:
    “Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.”

  37. Richard says:

    Blogger’s code of ethics? Which bloggers? I’ve been writing online since ’99 or so and I certainly didn’t help write the code nor was I consulted about it, so why should I be bothered by following it?

    My point is that ethics are a point of view, like religion and politics. Obviously there are a few things that we can all agree on that are ethical and unethical but after that the line starts to gray.

  38. Graham Rice says:

    Well, just for the record, I’ve never been paid to write a post on Transatlantic Plantsman – but I’ve just added Google ads to my sidebar. But Google Ads turns out to be an imprecise enterprise – presumably because I mentioned our cat Nicki in a recent post lots of pet-related ads started to pop up alongside posts not featuring Nicki. So I might ditch Google ads.

    But here’s the thing: Blogs, along with other “free” web content, are the major reasons for sales of gardening magazines collapsing and with sales way down and advertising migrating to the web gardening magazines are using more free reader-provided content – and hiring fewer garden writers and photographers – if they’re not closing down. So it’s more difficult for writers to make a living – so they feel the need to generate income from the blogs that they feel forced to write to keep their name current. Hence the ads – and deals with the devil like Pay per Post.

  39. susan harris says:

    More feedback about PPP from BestGreenBlogs.com:
    “Once again, sorry, but we don’t accept ‘Payperpost’ type or green ‘splogs’.”

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