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I received an email the other day, which caused me some significant concern. It was a request, which came out of the blue, asking me to consider to be paid for featuring certain content on my personal blog.
For me, this is a very unwanted and somewhat scandalous approach and I sincerely hope other bloggers feel the same way. If you think about it, it is a very seedy means to encourage independent people who take the time to blog about subjects they care about, to succumb to the incentive of money.
It is akin to paying for link placement in link directories, but in a much more underhand and devious manner. It's nasty, and any blogger who is tempted is in danger of losing all credibility and damaging their own personal brand. Any trust that may have been built between blogger and reader will be damaged. But how can you tell which blog is credible and which has fallen for the temptation of money?
It would be heart-warming to believe that every blogger resists such an approach. However, it would be naive to think that it doesn't happen. So, will this emerging trend result in a degree of consumer scepticism when seeking advice or opinion? One can only assume it will, but how can anyone tell which blog is genuine and which is being tainted?
Will Technorati and Wikio authority rankings be affected? Will the search engines be able to tell? (Ultimately the reason for this approach is to achieve higher visibility within the engines for these 'sponsored' posts...) I very much doubt it. It will be very difficult to tell and probably the only clues would be posts which appear 'off topic' or out of context to the previous posts. Probably only to be spotted by regular readers of such blogs.
Anyway, I thought I'd post the email approach with the hope that 'outing' such activity will help put a stop to it. So here it is, and it would be good to hear from others who have had similar approaches.
This came from one such firm:
Hey Blogger - My name is XXX,
I have been searching the Internet for blogs that fit our criteria. Yours does. I wanted to invite you to become a paid blogger at XXX. (Please understand that I do not send this invitation to every blogger I come across.)
Roughly 25% of bloggers are now being paid to write postings on their blogs, that are linked to websites. The value here is that, when a blog posting is linked to a website, that website will get higher rankings in the search engines, such as Google and Yahoo. You can write anything you think about the website, positive or negative.
Here is a link that describes how it all works in a little more detail:
Our system is set up so that bloggers can make more money with us than with any other blog-for-pay firm. In short, we are the middle man between you and the advertiser. We match the correct blogs with the correct advertisers, who pay us to do so. And then we pay you, the blogger on behalf of the advertiser. You only take the advertisements that you want and are comfortable with. In no way does this alter the ownership of your blog. You simply get paid to write postings on your blog that you choose to write. You do what you want, when you want. You decide what content to accept or decline.
To submit your blog, go to [link]
If you have any questions, do visit the FAQ's area of the site: [link]
If you have more than one blog, you are more than welcome to sign those up as well. If you have any other questions, please contact me at [email]. I know some people might be worried, getting some random e-mail, so please do write me if you have any questions or concerns. Also do a search for us on Yahoo or Google and look for reviews.
P.S. - I should note that we take great concern in the blogs that we allow into the system, so it's not possible for a full evaluation of the blog and/or its content until it reaches our categorizers.
Finally, credit is due to this blogger, Bete De Jour who decided to make a stance when contacted by a third party to promote a ladies bingo website on his blog.