Blogging For Dollars

February 1, 2007

People blog for different reasons, which vary as widely as there are different people in the world. That’s to be expected. But disclosure is important, and knowing why a blogger writes about certain subjects and their motivations I have found pretty important for building an honest relationship between bloggers and readers. Personally, I’m more apt to regularly read a blog where I get the sense the author is being up front with me.

But things can become clouded by advertising. Personally, with this Webomatica blog, although I display ads there is a clear line that I am reluctant to cross, which is writing about specific subjects for the sole purpose of making money. For example, the albums I’ve been reviewing are ones that I’m genuinely interested in, vs. writing about some new album that is very popular right now just in order to get more traffic and hence ad clicks. This is a distinction that I came up with on my own, and now that I’ve written it down, actually seems a bit arbitary and some would think a moral line has already been crossed. To others, I’m missing out on a money-making opportunity with PayPerPost since I already have one toe in the water. But if I were told tomorrow to choose between blogging and having ads, I’d nuke the ads in a heartbeat. Money isn’t my primary reason for blogging.

I just want to write about stuff that’s interesting and see if anybody responds. That’s really about it. And you’ll just have to take my word on it.

Anyhow, what got me thinking about all this is PayPerPost. It’s a service that pays bloggers to review products. I’m not into this idea for myself. But to say I don’t agree with an idea doesn’t mean I hope a company goes under. It just means I’m not a customer. And as I expect people to respect my choice to display some advertisment, I certainly must respect other people’s choice to display even more or none at all.

And despite what I may think about PayPerPost and the implications for blogging, they definitely have viral marketing dialed. I hadn’t seen this tech startup reality TV show RockStartup, although initally I thought was going to be the ultimate in egotistical disgust after reading these posts, is actually pretty scarily entertaining. In a Casey Serin kind of way.

I’m thinking PayPerPost possibly has an angle on a large demographic – folks to whom the words “get paid to blog about the things you love” sound like an awesome celebration of American capitalism and living the American dream. I get the feeling Home Shopping Network, Extreme Home Makeover, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire appeal to that demographic, as well. I mean, there are folks that think commercials are just another form of entertainment.

Every new media starts out as a niche but as it moves mainstream, is infiltrated by advertising, corporate interests, and money. I’m sure many of us remember the relative purity of the early web days when a banner ad was a major offense. Now they’re all over the place and although it’s still annoying, it’s just part of the web landscape.

In the publishing world more serious writers try to write the next great American novel, while others just want to write trashy murder mystery romance novels because that’s what sells. No big deal – just different niches for different folks.

As we see commercial influence seeping into blogs, it just means the medium is growing up. So we return to why bloggers blog and what you want to be known for. This decision is a personal one, made by the blogger. I can’t blame a company for taking advantage of a latent desire by many bloggers to get paid for blogging.

Nobody has a gun to bloggers’ heads, blackmailing them into to signing up for PayPerPost. I haven’t signed up yet, have I?

Additional Reading: BuzzMachine, WinExtra, Allied


  1. Very well put Jason and I believe extreme close to how the majority of bloggers feel about the issue.

  2. Eric Berlin says:

    Blogcritics (where I’m exec producer) doesn’t believe that flat out paying writers is useful or efficient. We publish thousands of music, book, TV, concert, film, and DVD reviews a year, much of which is fueled by the lure of free review materials. So providing value in that way for pop culture-junkie bloggers provides value, in our view, to both our 1,700 writers and to our readers.

  3. Webomatica says:

    Well hey, there’s another angle. There’s room for all sorts of business models.

    Ultimately, the market decides – if PayPerPost is providing a service that people aren’t interested in, not enough bloggers would sign up to sustain it. But while I may not support PayPerPost directly, I support their existence and chance to give it a shot.

    BTW I’m checking out Blogcritics right now…