Monday, March 26, 2007

Blogging for profit--NOT!!

Hello readers,

This is a craft and thrifting blog, where I keep track of and share my creative endeavors. Since I started this blog a year ago I also have become quite a fan of reading blogs by others involved in similar crafty pursuits. In addition, I read a number of adoption blogs and enjoy some political blogs occasionally as well. Recently I learned about something that I and many others are very about. It's called PayPerPost.

PayPerPost is not web advertising, like when a website or a blog contains a display element that is clearly an advertisement for a product or service. That is a perfectly acceptable, and is comparable to what newspapers, magazines, television and radio shows--in short, other respectable media--do. And I have nothing against bloggers who want to earn some money with their blogs.

PayPerPost is different. It is a new venture in which bloggers are paid to gush about products WITHOUT DISCLOSING THAT THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO SO. Now, I don't think you had to have taken journalistic ethics in school, as I did, to see that there is a problem with this. Marketing your product is not a bad thing; marketing it by being deceitful is. (Same goes for other guerilla marketing techniques, like paying popular high school girls to wear certain shoes, or planting people in bars to rave about specific drinks.) The key is disclosure, folks. Let's be honest.

I learned about this when a fellow blogger linked to this article in the Baltimore Sun. Here's another article in Business Week. Apparently the whole blogosphere is abuzz about this, as it could seriously compromise whatever credibility this new media has.

Now, as a journalist who has worked for organizations, like the church, that sometimes want to blur the lines between journalism and PR, I have seen the damage that this can do. When you can't trust the media anymore to tell the truth, our whole democratic society is in danger. I don't think that's an overstatment.

Shortly after hearing about this I was reading my daily dose of bloglines, and came across a post gushing about a product. No big deal; I read those all the times. I've shared my favorite products, too. But this time I had to think, "I wonder if this is one of those PayPerPosts"? I jotted off a quick comment to this effect, mostly trying to get a conversation going about how this sucks now that you can't trust who's blogging for profit or not.

This particular blogger was offended by what she perceived to be an assault on her character. I have apologized for the comment, as I did not mean to question her ethics, but rather to comment on the whole PayPerPost phenomenon., which I believe is seriously problematic. I have also seen other crafty bloggers saying, "I don't see what the problem is. I love hearing about recommended products."

I repeat: I do not believe it's problematic to recommend products you like. But thanks to PayPerPost, don't be surprised when something you thought was going to be great turns out to be crap because the blogger who gushed about it was exaggerating because they were paid to. I know the craft blog community assumes a level of trust that maybe doesn't exist in, say, political blogs, but they are not immune.

I know most people tune in here to see my latest felt creations or check out what I found at the Salvation Army last weekend. I'll be back to that in my next post. But I'd like to think some of my readers are interested in more serious subjects, too. Frankly, I was a little taken aback that everyone assumed my comments (admittedly terse) were a personal attack. If you want a blog without strong moral, ethical, and even political opinions, then maybe mine is not for you.

Meanwhile, since many Posties (people who PayPerPost) are not disclosing their true identities, I will: I do not and will not accept payment for any of my opinions. As a journalist who has spent two decades buildling my credibility, I can't afford to take their money. It's just not worth it.

I'm interested in your opinions on this topic...


woof nanny said...

Well written, Heidi. I appreciate your comments and this post, and I hope you continue to express your views. My disappointment is in the fact that a little voice now has to be in the back of our minds, wondering if the 'gusher' is sincere. And you're right, that sucks. But I hope most of us are on the same ethical ground and find this all PPP inappropriate. If subliminal advertising is illegal, perhaps this will go the same route.

pei_girl said...

I agree with you and woof nanny.keep up the great blogging have an awesome love your blog

Sarah and Jack said...

Like you, this is totally not the way to go for *me*. And I guess I just assumed that the only bloggers who would be doing such a thing are the big bloggers, with loads and loads of subscribers. But, based on your post, maybe I was wrong? Eh. I will say that having a child has made me realize that advertising itself is literally EVERYWHERE. I cannot think of one place (aside from inside of a church maybe) where we are not exposed to it.

Rebecca said...

I must live under a rock because I had no clue this was going on! I mean, I couldn't even image it. When you see commercials with stars gushing about this or that you know they are being paid to push it and don't let that influence you but BLOGGERS? I mean isn't the whole point of a blog to have a place to just babble about whatever you want and then connect with others who like it? I can promise to you and anyone who reads my blog I HAVE NEVER and WILL NEVER except money to push a product on my blog. Believe me when I tell you how much I love Le Creuset or watch "Lost" like no one's business that it's because I like them and not because I'm being paid to say I like them.

Sue said...

I think I’m sharing that rock with Rebecca, because I had no idea this was going on either. Good heavens. How sad. I enjoy your blog, Heidi. I appreciate your joy for all things fiber and your willingness to share your projects – and yourself – with us. Furthermore, I feel that we should be able to state our opinion on things, whether it be that we love acrylic (ha) or we want to work to find a way to having world peace. It doesn’t mean that everyone will agree all the time, of course – and how boring it would be if we always did! – but it does mean that people should respect one another and their opinions, views, thoughts, and so on. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Please also know that I could never take part in something like that – my opinions and thoughts about products, television, movies and everything else in between are expressly my own. Now, if someone could pay me with chocolate … ha … don’t I wish?! ;-)

Lucy said...

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I wasn't aware that this was even going on in the bloggville except to the extent where it's pretty obvious when you visit certain blogs, not your every day posters like you and me.

I for one will never accept money to peddle other products,although I may at some point use my blog to market my own wares which I think is acceptable--enough of us do it through etsy, ebay or various websites but in anycase that's as far as I would take it. Like you said, it's not about marketing, but it's about disclousure, honesty and integrity.


Anonymous said...

You are soooo right about this. It reminds me of the "right" taste of delicious Pepsi-Cola! Mmmm, I am enjoying a Pepsi right now and it is really refreshing and delicious. So remember, blogging is better when it's done while enjoying a cool refreshing Pepsi-cola. Keep up the good work.