Make money blogging: Promote only the products / services you believe in

22

Most bloggers don’t write only for the fun of having an audience. Sure, we all start our journey wanting to provide you with the best information we can possibly provide as writers, trying to help you solve your problems, inspire you or plainly entertain you. With time and effort a blog is getting a bigger readership and traffic, making it attractive to advertisers as well as visitors and readers. From this to being asked to promote ‘something’ on your site is just a small step.

The ways bloggers can make money are diverse: some provide banner advertising, others promote links or prepare entire posts for their client. While many visitors don’t pay too much attention to the banners (some are already ‘blind’ to them), a sponsored post is something else. It’s ‘speaking’ to them on a different level, it’s part of the editorial effort, part of the content, something the reader is being ‘served’ and can’t ignore as he/she would do with a banner or a link.

And now comes the questions: Do we promote everything or are we picky when it comes to ‘endorsing’ a product or a service on our site?

paid-to-blog

During my years of blogging I got some campaigns running: various women related products (a Romanian women magazine: Unica, Dove, Rexona etc.), some sports related events which I promoted and even few campaigns for a bank. My personal accounts were at this bank (created prior to being asked to promote their services on my blog), we keep our company account there too, so overall I have a great opinion about them and was happy to get the chance to promote them and earn a decent buck.

And then, 2 years ago, pretty close to Christmas, I received a pretty weird proposal from the agency that was running the campaigns: I had to promote a ‘holiday spending loan’.

You already know what I’m up to when it comes to personal finances: I’ve been in debt and don’t plan on doing it again. My main goals are to be as responsible money-wise as possible, so promoting a high-interest credit just to encourage people to recklessly spend for Christmas is clearly not something I’d have in mind. And yet the pay was great. The campaign meant posting an article about the ‘wonderful’ loan and promoting a Facebook app. The pay was DOUBLE than usually. Let’s say I’d get around 250 bucks for a small article, which was really not that bad, I’d say.

Even with such a good pay and the little effort, I declined the campaign. Before that I tried to discuss with the client a different approach: I could ‘pack’ this loan as money someone would borrow to get ready for a business venture in the next year or consolidate a previous loan etc. Anything that wouldn’t support this crazy consumerism and the idea that, if it’s Christmas, we need to spend like crazy, just to feel ‘right’.

My proposal was declined, the client wanted to promote exactly the idea that someone would take a high interest loan to squander the money during the holidays and then pay the money back. To me, this is against anything I believe in and it was clearly very far from my usual ‘take’ on money. My readers knew I’m for saving money and being responsible, that I don’t encourage anyone to take on a loan unless it’s really something very serious (say a house) and it’s not easy to save the money etc.

I surely can’t promote such an idiotic mistake and not have my readers get a pretty nasty reaction. So that you know, Romanian readers are pretty vocal when it comes to punishing you, should you get off your usual ‘track’. I had people read my articles for months/years, they’d be very annoyed with me promoting something like this, when tens of articles on my blog were all about being responsible and not getting into any silly debt.

Long story short, I ‘lost’ the chance to make some money off this campaign, but never had to worry about my readers feeling betrayed or me ‘prostituting’ my blog for money. While I never had any problems with getting paid for my work as a blogger and the chance to run a nice paid campaign, I can’t promote something I’m clearly against 365 days/year, just for a good pay.

Were you in such a situation? Would you promote anything, regardless of your personal feelings about the product/service? Would you feel betrayed if a blogger you read started promoting something you know he’s clearly against otherwise?

22 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve never been in that position as my blog is not big enough for advertisers to make that offer. It probably is harder to turn down an offer if the blog is your livelihood, but my blog is more of a hobby, though it would be nice to make some sort of income. But since it’s not my main source of income, I don’t feel any pressure to promote anything that I don’t agree with. And I wouldn’t want to turn off any readers by doing something that compromises my integrity.

    • Well, there are people in my country who make a living from their blog and some refuse campaigns too. Few didn’t and the whiplash from the readers was in some cases huge. If you already have a reputation and people know what you stand for, choosing to change your mind ‘for a day’ might not sit well with your readers. And, at the end of the day, your site’s traffic and readership are what allows you to get a campaign in the first place.

      I’m sure that, if you were in this situation, you’d probably have said no too. You can’t risk messing up your hard work over a simple campaign

  2. When I started blogging, when I received paid article opportunities, I was extremely happy and I used to accept anything that was above the minimum price. Eventually I realized that posting about products that harm my credibility is not a good strategy, even though I would still do it occasionally on a high search engine blog with very few loyal readers who wouldn’t mind the crazy article.

    • Well, if you know your readers won’t take it ‘badly’, then it’s OK. I was 100% mine would have pointed out that I usually have a different opinion about said loans 😀

  3. Yeah.. You have to try and weed through the requests that you get. There will be good months and bad months when it comes to income opportunities, and you can’t just take any and everything that comes your way during a slow month (because you need the $). Your site will suffer in the long run if you do..

    • I always thought that by breaking your ‘promise’ to your readers you’ll lose a lot on the long run. I’m all for earning money from my blogs, in few days I’ll start preparing some advertising offers for this one too, but there’s a difference between making money from your efforts and driving your readers away

  4. Good for you for declining the campaign! The payout was certainly nice but you would have never felt good earning it, especially since you were giving advice to your loyal readers that you didn’t believe. I have no problem with people earning money from their blogs, but I also expect them to not sacrifice their credibility either.

  5. Nice story Dojo. It is so much nicer and easier to write about stuff which you believe in and feel good about. Plus, your regular readers know what you think about certain things and don’t want to see you writing articles which are blatantly not for something you would genuinely recommend

  6. After reading another blog that warned about people asking to guest post but were really companies trying to get free PR I received an email from one of them. It was from a debt management service, since I’m not really a debt blog it was like a double whammy. Not getting paid and giving space to a company I would never use.

  7. I only promote products I actually use. If it isn’t something I am willing to pay money for I don’t really expect others to pay money for it either. And if they do pay then they might not be happy with the result. I would hate to be at fault for a product someone really hated that I recommended.

    • A great way to see it. Especially since, once you start getting a following, people do trust your ideas and instincts. And it would be really bad to promote something that’s not good for them, since they’ll stop trusting you even when you promote something you 100% believe in.

  8. Well done Dojo, I commend you. I think in the long run you will make more by keeping and expanding readers than you would of had you chose to promote that post. Shows integrity to your blog, great job!

    • And most importantly it shows my readers that I don’t change my mind ‘overnight’ just because of a paid post. I think it’s important to them to see this.

  9. Good post, Dojo! Posting about the products you believe it is important for earning revenue with your blog. It is also important for your reputation with your readers. If you promote a product that is true to your endorsements, then your readers will likely trust you. If you promote just anything and something turns out to be bad, you can earn a bad blogging reputation and you don’t want that!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here