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?
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?