Others have written on this subject as well. Heather wrote here on Crafterminds Why Readers Hate it When You Make Money. Amy wrote a word on Paid Blogging over on Mod Podge Rocks. I wanted to add my 2 cents. And since this is an ad-free blog, you’ll be getting those 2 cents for free! As bloggers, we all have opinions on if, why, how, and how much we should get paid.
We’ve said it here before, and I’m sure we’ll say it again. Blogging is still the “Wild Wild West.” Blogging is “new media,” and has a lot of parallels to traditional media, but is dramatically different in a lot of ways as well. I used to work for a Pulitzer Prize Winning paper in one of the top 10 DMAs in the country. The advertising and editorial departments of this paper are housed under the same roof, but on completely different sides of the building. So far apart there were different bathrooms! We shared a cafeteria, but ate at different tables. Sure, without great editorial content, the advertising side wouldn’t have valuable newspaper space to sell. And without the advertising sales, the editorial department wouldn’t get a paycheck at the end of the week. So both sides needed eachother. But we kept things separate to avoid any perception that the editorial content was influenced by advertising dollars.
In the Blogging world, for most of us, the Advertising “department” is the same person as the Editorial “department.” But that doesn’t mean that paid bloggers in any way lower their standards because the review they’re writing is for the same company they will be sending an invoice to at the end of the week. Bloggers have readers we’re accountable to – readers who can, will, and should provide feedback if we as bloggers recommend a sub-standard product. Just like that Pullitzer-prize winning paper, the value of the space on any blog is determined by the size and quality of that blog’s readership. Providing readers with false information will drive them away faster than curse words on a preschool mommy blog.
In the Craft and DIY blogging world, there are plenty of bloggers that are sent free products by Manufacturers, or the PR Companies representing these manufacturers. In order to try out these products, we spend our time creating projects, and in some cases, take the time to chronicle the steps in a tutorial. This has value, and value can be compensated monitarily. Additionally, we use other items in order to make the project. The simplest example is that if we’re sent paint, we need something to paint on. This costs us money, which can be reimbursed. Blogs of all sizes are starting to recognize the value of their content, their work, and their supplies, and are asking for appropriate compensation for all three. Because we can’t pay our light bill in glue sticks.
Being paid to post about a product, regardless of the niche the blogger is in, is not new. And the controversy surrounding it isn’t new either. Much has come to light recently because of the FTC’s new guidelines. In the past, the guidelines indicated that the FTC Act applied to things like celebrity endorsements, and truth in advertising. These new guidelines indicate that the law applies to bloggers as well. And that penalties can be levied against both the blogger and the advertiser. Personally, I think these guidelines are a great step forward. Which is no surprise as we craft bloggers are all about keeping it real.
I’m not saying that every product post has to be compensated by product and cash. I’m not saying that bloggers who don’t allow compensated content on their site are being irresponsible or devaluing other bloggers who blog to make a living. I’m not even saying that you can’t use a four-lettered word on a preschool mommy blog. What I AM saying is that it is okay for bloggers to be compensated fairly. And what is “fair” is determined by each individual blogger, and the brand they’re working with.
Here are some other articles with varying opinions on paid blogging… please add your own opinions in the comments!