This might be worth watching. Come join me on the couch and bring some popcorn.
Earlier this week, Cape Town Girl popped this post on her blog, putting forward – in her own succinct style – the viewpoint that brands in SA are taking bloggers for a ride by getting free publicity for products from posts and mentions. Bring forth the drama:
There’s a word for working for free, it’s called “slavery”. Last I checked, slavery is illegal. It doesn’t matter how big or small your blog is, if a PR company / Advertising agency / brand manager contacts you asking for coverage through something YOU have created and invested your time in, they should pay you, at the rate you decide the attention of your audience is worth.
I’ll admit that the cynic in me (yes, there is one of them) did wonder if CTG was concerned that her (wholly commercialised and brand-plastered) blog was missing out on revenue because PR people were going elsewhere where they could get exposure for free.
But like I clearly stated at the beginning of this paragraph, that was just the cynic in me.
Now, Saul on loosechange.co.za has come forward with an alternative opinion: Charging For Your Blog Is Career Limiting. This is a blog post which while commending CTG on her stance, contains this line:
There is one problem that I don’t think CTG has considered: she looks like a brand whore pedalling other people’s crap.
But do you know what? He’s right. It does look that way (although I’d have perhaps put it a little more politely).
That said though, is there anything wrong with blogs like that? Well, no there isn’t, because we’re not stupid, are we?
You know those annoying 30-minute fillers on TV where a family of four talk about how much they love Maggie Two Minute Noodles? Everyone knows that’s an advertorial and the same goes for magazines, newspapers or radio. Anyone with more than two IQ points knows that the moment you’re basically putting a rate card on your blog the content becomes bumpf and insincere. Charging for your work is great, making yourself look like a gigantic billboard is really silly. As someone who has worked in real online publishing I’ll give you a tip: begging is probably more lucrative.
That’s why the blog reading audience of SA looks at blogs like CTG and 2OceansVibe and (hopefully) takes what they read about brands and products mentioned on there with a pinch of salt. We all know that they are being paid to say the nice things that they are saying, right?
I should probably set out my stall here. I’m not completely blameless in this. Yes, I have Google ads on here, but they only pay when you click them (something that I am not allowed to tell you to do) and yes, I have put adverts on my blog before and obviously, I have charged for them. They mostly just sit in the sidebar and they don’t do any harm. If they get in the way of the content, then I’m doing it wrong. I know this because I once made the mistake of writing a post about a product as well. In my defence, I thought that it was a kinda quirky Xmas present idea and it really was more of an experiment that anything else. The reaction was so shocking that I haven’t ever done it again.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a lot of a PR stuff sent my way. And yes, sometimes I’ll share it with you, if I think you’ll be interested. And no, generally I don’t charge for that. But that’s my decision and it’s based not on payment, but whether it’s something I feel is worth writing about. I will ALWAYS tell you on those rare occasions when I’m writing about something where I have been given payment or goods. Otherwise it devalues everything else I write.
That’s why I launched the 6000 recommends… category, which, as I pointed out when I launched it, only contains stuff that I have done, I am doing or I am going to do and that I think you should do too. Money does not change hands for anything on there and that’s why you should value and cherish it and do those things, because I recommend them.
If you want to make some money out of your blog, then that’s just fine. If it’s your sole source of income then it’s more than just fine: it’s your job. It’s no secret that bloggers charge for exposure: for example, 6000 miles… BlogRollee Life is Savage put his huge numbers right out there this week “for transparency’s sake”.
But if you are going to take every cent that is offered to you to peddle stuff on your blog, then please don’t expect people to take your content seriously.
Oh, and don’t expect every other blogger to want or have to do things your way.