This post comes with a "slight rant alert" warning and is being written because there's something that's been bugging me for a few weeks now.
Is there a point where a blogger sells out, where ethics become compromised or a total conflict of interest occurs? Yes. I think there is.
Being in the fortunate position to make money from a blog or a website is a wonderful position to be in. It means that in the eyes of advertisers, you've "made it" in that they consider you a worthy publication in which to advertise their wares.
If you have a blog about fashion, for example, it makes sense for the blogger to establish relationships with companies whose products are a good "fit" for the blog and to try to gain advertising revenue from those companies. In this manner, forming a direct relationship with a potential advertiser can pay dividends for both parties.
There are also other forms of monetising a blog or website, usually in the form of a pay-per-click or pay-per-action style of advert, such as Adsense or affiliate programs. The former pays a small fee (usually pennies) when someone clicks on an advert. The latter pays a larger fee (commission) when a transaction successfully occurs.
This post isn't being written because I'm jealous, or because I have a mouthful of sour grapes. I've been in the position where I was given things in return for writing about them, and the giver was always left in no doubt that what I wrote would be my own opinion of the product. On the rare occasion when the potential giver took umbrage at that and wanted an assurance that the piece would be positive regardless, they were told in no uncertain terms that their offer was declined.
I've also had websites where I've used advertising programs such as Google Adsense. When it first started it was a good program because it targeted the adverts based on the context of the page. So for example if I had an article about holidays in Yorkshire, the adverts that displayed were generally for cottages, hotels or B&Bs in Yorkshire. It was a good match. The articles I wrote were intended to encourage people to do/stay/eat at the places I'd written about, the adverts were targeted, and whether readers were armchair travellers or potential buyers, they were at least thinking about spending money.
I don't object to bloggers being given products to review. I don't object to bloggers writing advertorial posts - so long as it's made clear that a relationship exists between the blogger and the company whose product is being written about.
No. What I do object to is a blog whose whole ethos is about SAVING money, about scrimping, doing without and cutting back, that suddenly slathers itself in adverts which, by their very nature, are encouraging people to spend money. Quite often, LOTS of money. If YOU are talking to me about saving money, please don't bombard me with adverts for expensive suits that are reduced from £600 to £400. It just doesn't sit well.
I particularly object when a blog that's all about saving the pennies shows me adverts for gambling sites, betting sites and online casinos. While obviously nobody is compelled to click on any of these adverts, I don't feel they should be appearing in the first place given the blog's supposed ethos. To my mind, that is a total and utter conflict of interest.
Until next time. x