Everyone has different reasons driving their need to blog, whether as a way to express themselves, share professional knowledge or to discuss current events. And it’s fair to say that the vast majority of bloggers make no money out of their blog, and never will.
But what about the sites that are full of quality content and great insight? Shouldn’t those who spend time and energy researching and writing valuable articles get something in return?
Tris Hussey raised the controversial subject of sponsorships, on-site advertising and product reviews as a way to monetise blogs. [Sorry Tris, can’t bring myself to spell it “monetize”.] He points out that we may be missing out on a huge opportunity because a very vocal segment who is against it.
I think the answer is encapsulated within a single word: Integrity.
There’s a number of ways a blogger can “sell” space on his or her blog, ranging from perfectly innoffensive links to products or companies to full-on sponsorship and endorsement. What one must do is evaluate how much content quality or impartiality is affected (not that bloggers are ever really impartial, we are beings of opinion and bias) by the newfound advertising.
As Tris puts it, “Just because you pay me, doesn’t mean you’ve bought me. I won’t sing the praises of you or your product. Frankly, you don’t want that really. I’m of no value to you, as a place for your ad or information, if no one is reading me anymore.”
Sell-outs lose their credibility in reviewing products or discussing events, because of the bias brought on by the money they’re getting. And what’s the point of reading a blog where you won’t get an honest answer, but just a big fat endorsement of whoever’s paying the bills?
I think it’s definitely possible to remain credible, while fitting ads for relevant sites in your sidebar. Google Ads are probably the most benign form of advertising but they also pay peanuts, so more enterprising bloggers will go towards more aggressive types of ads or direct sponsorships. It’s only fair to want a bit of income from a hobby that generally requires a lot of time and dedication.
You’ll notice my blog is entirely free from advertising or sponsored content, and it may not always be this way. But before I sell away some space on my site, I’ll need to be sure that it’s the right thing to do. And at the moment, I’m just not that convinced that I want to sell my soul for a few extra bobs a month.
What types of advertising, sponsorship or other source of blog-related income are you using? Does it work well? Where do you set your boundaries?