Posts Tagged ‘reputation’

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: