Posts Tagged ‘paid reviews’

Leveraging your Blog with Paid Content

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Most personal finance bloggers make money from their sites through advertising. The current next big thing in making money online is to develop paid content and/or consulting income. For personal finance bloggers like me, paid consulting about personal finance is almost impossible. There is already an industry that consults on finance issues — financial planners and independent financial advisors — it quite rightly requires serious study, qualifications and liability insurance. Very few financial advisors are personal finance bloggers (or very few personal finance bloggers are financial advisors), most like me are providing information for entertainment purposes only.

More Than Advertising?

All the above means that if you are a personal finance blogger who wants to extract more income from your site or brand than you can get from advertising, you need to develop paid content. To my mind, there’s nothing wrong with this. Think about the news. I can and do read the news online for free, but not all the content of my favourite newspaper (The Independent) is there. If I want everything I have to pay for it.

Some personal finance bloggers are starting to go down this route. Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar has written and published a book — what’s in the book is generally along the same lines as some posts in his blog but it isn’t a duplication of blog content. Trent has also collected together some of his blog post series as e-books and charges $2 for them to be downloaded. With the sort of traffic that he gets (approx 40k subs), that’s likely to be a nice little earner since $2 is fairly nominal for a visitor, but the work involved in setting it up is a one off cost.

Paid Content: A Case Study

Ramit Sethi is always looking for a way to do something different with his blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and preferably make a little money whilst doing so. His latest idea is a paid subscription to a money saving email. From the description it sounds like you pay $8 a month, and in return you get an email with detailed ideas that will save you large amounts of money. It’s worth stating that Ramit’s audience is typically young and high earning with a high disposable income — I’m sure that the cost of the subscription is pitched at the level that most of his readers wouldn’t even notice.

Ways to Make it Work

Personally, I think one of the key selling points of blogging is that it produces free content. Free content ranks highly in search engines, and is a great stand alone advertising technique. Writing free and focused content as part of your blog should be the core of your blogging strategy — if you’re trying to market content about widgets, people are going to be looking for blog posts about widgets, not blog posts about marketing widgets.

It’s also going to help to deliver your paid-for and free content separately, and differently if you can. This distinguishes the two offerings more easily, and means that you won’t be caught by having information similar to your paid content on other free blogs. Just something as simple as packaging it for easy reading on a kindle, or maybe podcasting, or producing content designed for emailing rather than web display can give your readers and visitors a reason to buy.

Are Paid Reviews Unethical?

Friday, October 10th, 2008

The ethical nature of paid reviews is a debatable one.  There are some bloggers that embrace paid reviews as a strategy to monetize their blogs.  There are some that steer clear of paid reviews citing that it would diminish their reputation and damage readers’ trust.  If you asked me a year ago, I would tell you that I belong in the second group of bloggers.  But I am not sure if it’s that black and white anymore.

What Are Paid Reviews?

In the traditional sense, paid reviews are articles that you write because someone compensates you for writing them.  For example, someone engages you and offers $50 for you to write a review about his web site or products — that’s a paid review.  Other examples include:

  • Someone gives you a product that you can keep in exchange for a review
  • Working through paid review networks like Pay Per Post or ReviewMe

But for bloggers who monetize their blog, we make money on articles that we write — i.e., AdSense, CPM ads, Affiliates, etc.  This means that by traditional definition we are engaging in paid reviews in some shapes or forms.

Ethical Versus Unethical Paid Reviews

So what really makes good or bad?  In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with making money from your blog or articles.  However, it’s unethical if you do it without honesty and integrity — note that I didn’t include disclosure as a requirement. Let me give you some examples:

Unethical Paid Reviews

  • Write a favorable review because you got paid for it, or because you are hoping to make money on it.
  • Saying that you are using something, when you’re clearly not.  A lot of bloggers — especially in the Make Money Online niche — are guilty of this one.
  • Recommend something that you would not use yourself.
  • Recommend something that you know is not in the best interest of your readers — i.e., recommend something when you know there’s a better alternative.

Ethical Paid Reviews

  • Give an honest opinion about a product and service even if it’s a negative one.
  • Don’t recommend something that you are not using, or would not use yourself.
  • Don’t write to maximize your income, instead write you maximize value for your readers.

I think it’s perfectly fine to write paid reviews, as long as you do it with honesty and integrity.  Whether you disclose the fact to your readers is up to you.  I don’t think it’s necessary to disclose what you make or don’t make money on — in fact, I think it’s silly to do so.

Here’s what other bloggers are saying: