The blog medium started out pure and focused on content, and that is what drew in the masses. Every word was an opinion that was blatantly unbiased (or more often biased, but still blatant about it) and could be trusted.
Then the ads came.
Blogging is definitely a much more mature medium than it was a couple of years ago. Now, many of the top bloggers are making a decent living from their blogs. Granted these bloggers are in the minority compared to the entire blogging population, it goes to show that traffic (aka eyes-glued-to-your-page) sells.
There may be a case where your company starts a blog and it becomes immensely popular. If you are smart (and somewhat lucky) your company will create an industry blog that becomes the place to turn for expert views for that industry. If that happens then without a doubt you will have companies looking to sponsor your blog.
However, many people feel that advertisers kill the purity of the blog format. Even worse are “sponsored entries” that show up on blogs because a company has requested that the blogger write about their product.
This scenario will grow quickly in the very near future. Blogging is enjoyable and if you can make money from the practice, it becomes even more enjoyable. The down side is that many readers will consider the blog to become just another sellout and I do believe that would be the case if the money began to dominate the content.
Well placed, non-obtrusive ads are fine to many and completely understandable to most. As long as the trust between writer and reader is not broken the ads should cause no harm.
Salesman, Blogs, and Fark
First here is the order of events:
- Fark.com sells their editorial, and the loyalty of their users
- My Farking Followup
- Final thoughts on Fark.com
- Fark Sells Out. France Surrenders
After reading the above articles, the following two things should be abundantly clear.
- Popular blogs, like Calacanis’, have major pull when it comes to major industry publications like Wired.com. Especially during months when news is quite slow.
- If you are going to post advertorial content, then make sure the world knows it was paid for. Otherwise you have to fight the people which come out quickly in masses.
Is it okay to make money from your blog? Yes. Is it okay to write sponsored entries that are clearly labeled as “sponsored?” Yes. Is it okay to betray the trust of your readers? The trust that gained you the audience and what helps to keep your audience growing? No.
Blogs are meant to be a transparent medium and therefore everything involved in the site should be made transparent. Ads are ads. Don’t try to trick your readers. Readers are smart; sooner or later they figure things out.