Sunday, September 24, 2006

Being Paid to Post?

This is a growing trend in the blogging world and before it gets totally out of hand, I'm going to take a poke at the concept. I'll start off by saying that I don't like these pay-per-post schemes and if you have a fun little conversational, non-commercial blog, I've got a warning for you: as much as you think your blog won't change if you sign up with one of the blog pimping services that are out there, you're just fooling yourself.

I used to read a few blogs that have recently started posting links in exchange for compensation. I was a fan of these blogs back when they were natural and organic, but nowadays... not so much. They used to talk about their kids, pets, homes, jobs, churches, music, diets, and so on, and it was interesting because it flowed from their real lives. But once they started Blogging for Dollars, it didn't take long before the non sequiturs started flying. Yeah, they pick products to hawk that they can easily feign interest in, but the fake posts don't flow as naturally as genuine discussion, so the blogs quickly took on a stilted, forced atmosphere. They now remind me of the vapid bobbleheads on the "news" who are paid to pretend to be hopelessly fascinated by some kook's book about protecting your dental work from space aliens, some dude's prostate problems, or the newest way people can delude themselves into thinking they can get rid of the dimples on their asses without getting off the couch. And since I know these formerly genuine bloggers are not empty-headed, it saddens me to see them get caught up in what is really just an advertising scheme.

The bottom line is, once you're getting paid to post about something, you stop doing it for the sake of communication -- or for the love of writing, or to keep your friends and family informed, or whatever it was that motivated you when you first started your blog -- and it instead becomes ... well, something you're paid to do. I'm bombarded with enough advertising everywhere I turn in life, from the ads inside the doors of bathroom stalls to those stupid previews that I'm forced to watch on DVDs -- I'm not going to subject myself to even more of it now by clicking over to your blog, where I don't know if I'm getting an ad or real content until I'm already part way through a particular post. I used to enjoy hearing the funny stories you tell about your life, but now that I have to slog through countless posts where you're merely pretending to care about something, it's starting to feel like maybe it's just not worth it.

If you've really got your heart set on making money as a blogger, I suggest you avoid being tempted by short cuts and do it the old-fashioned way: hone your already-good writing skills and publish a damn fine blog. People will come, traffic will increase, and you can sell ads that run along the sides of your blog, without interfering with the actual content on it. Become an expert in something, write some beautiful prose, report on events, interview people, treat us to some creative writing... do something that will elevate your blog above the rabble, instead of becoming part of it by whoring yourself out to people who don't care anything about you or your readers.

There's a lot of competition out here in the blogging world. What's going to make your blog different from all the others? What do you seek out in the blogs you read on a regular basis? Paid posts? Not likely. You're looking for good writing, interesting content, information, news, expertise, cute pictures of your nephews, sage advice, a connection to another person. These are all things that will keep people coming back. So for now, keep up the good work, but leave the cash register out of it until you're really ready to go pro. Your fans will thank you.


L-girl said...

I'm bombarded with enough advertising everywhere I turn in life, from the ads inside the doors of bathroom stalls to those stupid previews that I'm forced to watch on DVDs

This is EXACTLY how I feel. I am so oppressed by constant advertising - everyone trying to sell me things - everywhere I turn. I friggin hate it. Bloggers should stand against that. And against corporate intrusion into a non-commercial medium. And in this case, an intrusion they bring on themselves!!

Like you, I know that accepting advertising will change content. It's inevitable.

You might want to get an "ad free blog" button like I just put on my blog - just a way of saying it right up front.

I found you through a Technorati search, and noticed you're linking to wmtc. Thanks!

alice said...

You're welcome! I am a fan of your blog and I'll consider the ad-free banner for my blog. I do have a couple of links to businesses on my blog (faith/works gallery, better world books), but they're causes that I choose to support and not paid ads, so I suppose I qualify.

Further, I don't object to advertising in general -- it supports some of my favorite blogs. But it does put me right off if posting and advertising are not kept separate, as I hope I've made clear above...

Keera Ann Fox said...

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." (1 Timothy 6:10) (Always wanted an opportunity to post the correct quote about love, money and evil.) Writing to get paid and getting paid to write are two different things. I'm sorry that good writers let themselves be yoked by their advertisers. I read very few ad-supported blogs and the ones I do read are by writers whose content completely ignores the ads in the sidebars.

alice said...

Scott, I like the idea of posts that are clearly designated as paid placement. I'd be far more likely to keep reading a blog if there was some method employed to make it easy to discern the wheat from the chaff.

Keera, you're quite right, and you put it well: Writing to get paid and getting paid to write are two different things.

alice said...

Payperpost seems to have reached a critical mass on Chattablogs this past week. And Scott, while I appreaciate your point (and the quality writing on your blog!), I'm even more hostile to the idea now than I was when I wrote this commentary -- mostly because the popularity of the pay-fer subscriptions is causing a cacophony of bullshit postings. I've begun making mental notes to not return to blogs when I notice frequent or blantant paid posts, though as you point out, if the writing is good enough and the posts are not too frequent or numerous, some blogs are still readable even after crossing over to the dark side. ;)