Recently, I’ve seen several personal finance blogs jump on the pay per post bandwagon. Also recently, I’ve found myself deleting several blogs from my daily reading list. Is there a connection? Of course.
The old bromide goes “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” and it’s never been more true than today. Everyone is aware of Paris Hilton, but when was the last time she got a word of good publicity?
The truth of the matter is that Paris Hilton markets herself to the public and she’ll do anything to get people to write about her simply so her name will stay in your consciousness. It’s similar to the logic behind Head-On apply directly to the forehead; the whole goal is to place a product in your consciousness.
So now we come around to the “pay per post” phenomenon. The marketers using pay per post are using the same philosophy as Paris Hilton and the Head On folks: if you keep reading about a particular topic, you’ll remember it. So they pay some bloggers in their target area to write about a certain topic so that when people browse through blogs, they’ll continually see the same topic over and over. It might be negative, it might be positive, but one thing’s for sure: it’s marketing.
Whenever I view a single post that I am sure comes from a pay per post scheme, my trust with the writer of that blog is completely gone. Quite often, I simply delete that blog from my bookmarks and move on with life.
Why so harsh? First, there are thousands of other blogs I could be reading instead of following one that is trying to feed me an advertisement and call it content. Why should I continue to read a personal finance blog that is feeding me advertisements and calling it content when there are more than 700 other blogs available at pfblogs.org? I can simply go there and find someone else to read, someone who has not violated the reader-writer relationship.
Second, the trust in the conversation between the reader and the writer is completely gone. As soon as I realize that someone is being paid for a post, I suddenly question everything I’ve read from them and the trust is gone. It is that very trust that has built up over time that causes me to regularly visit a site, and if that trust is gone, there’s no longer any value in the conversation.
At least there are some individuals who have the courage to let everyone know that they’re writing a post for a payment. Those people are at least being honest enough with their readers to let them know that they’re reading an advertisement.
Let me make this as clear as I possibly can: The Simple Dollar will never accept a payment in exchange for a post. I write only about things that interest me and I will only write my honest feelings on the subject. If I get sent a free sample or a free book because of my blog, I’ll look at the freebie and write about it only if I care enough to write about it.
Why? I’m in this for the long term. I don’t view The Simple Dollar as an opportunity to turn a quick buck; to me, it’s a chance to communicate the things I’m learning (and have learned) about personal finance to a wide audience. I love this topic and I love helping people; I believe that this passion shows through when I write and I think that others feel that passion, too. If I’m simply posting something for a quick buck, there is no passion there, and I’ve lost the conversation. It’s much the same if I am conversing with someone about something and suddenly say, “Coca-Cola: it’s the best!” The conversation’s value is then shot to pieces, even if the comment is somewhat legitimate in the conversation. Why? There is no real passion in being a shill.
As for advertisements, the day an advertiser asks me to change a word of content is the day I delete that ad from my site. I don’t care about advertisements that float around content because the content is true; Google and Yahoo don’t really care about what you’re writing – they just contribute ads related to your topic and don’t say a word about what you’re saying. If this were to change, those ads would disappear faster than a map of Area 51.
You can consider this a public service announcement or a rant or both: the simple fact of the matter is that pay per post schemes disgust me and I want no part in a method of raising money that violates trust.