Monetizing or Compromising?

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for about a month.  I didn’t even have anything written, just the title.  Not really sure why – I think it was a combo of not having the right words, and just being downright unmotivated. 

I’m all for making money/connections from my blog.  Most of us like that, right?  A giveaway post here, brand ambassadorship there, text link added into a post, etc.  But where do you draw the line?  I’ve turned down pitches previously that I know from the get-go aren’t a right fit for me.  And if the contact is nice enough, I’ll usually let them know of the relevant bloggers I’m aware of that would be a better fit, or try to hook them up with someone who works with bloggers to get them the right people.  Well, except in the case of the guy who kept emailing me regarding a water cooler system for 20SB‘s offices.  Dude, if you did any research about 20SB whatsoever you’d know we don’t have an office.  Do your research before you pitch, please.

Anyway – I received a pitch from someone who wanted to pay me to either host an article on my blog about pregnancy, or write something relevant that they could embed links in.  Well, I’m pregnant, so this seemed relevant enough to me.  When I had confirmed that I was willing to do it, I asked about the context of the links (because I’m not for hosting a company’s article on my blog).  It was then disclosed that the links would be for a plastic surgery client of the company’s, and certain key words would need to be used.

I’m sorry – but what does plastic surgery really have anything to do with pregnancy?  I basically asked the company this question, and they figured it could something about post baby surgery, or those who aren’t happy with their bodies after giving birth, etc.

After getting this information, I was torn.  I went back and forth about it for awhile, and ultimately decided that I couldn’t consciously do this to my blog.  I didn’t have it in me to write essentially a fake post, just to embed some links within key words, to make a few extra bucks.  When I let the company know, and apologized for wasting their time – they upped the price.  Instead of paying me X amount, they essentially offered to pay me double.  DOUBLE.

I still said no.

What would you do?  I’ve seen blogs that started out great turn into sponsored post/money making machines – essentially losing all creative, original content in favor of trying to make an extra dollar.  I don’t want my readers to see my blog that way, and I certainly don’t want that for myself.  And while it kind of sucked to turn down that money, I felt, and still feel, really good about the decision to say no thank you.

Have you turned down compensation to maintain the integrity of your blog?  Or a product to review?
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Comments

  1. I’ve agreed to embed links in old posts because I know that no one reads my archives (thanks Google Analytics!) I’ve turned down offers to include links in new posts or write a post about something irrelevant, but I don’t see the harm in monetizing the archives that no one reads anymore.

    I figure as long as someone isn’t using their blog ONLY to monetize, I don’t hold it against someone for trying to make a few bucks here and there.

    • I pretty much follow the same ideals on that. It’s the creating a new post with certain keywords that would ordinarily have nothing to do with my blog style that threw me for a loop. 🙂

  2. One of the bloggers I really enjoyed reading, and was becoming friends with switched over to mostly sponsored posts and such. It felt fake. And I felt betrayed that my online friend had been replaced by an infommercial.

    That said, I’d love to get paid to blog. I love writing and am attempting to figure out how to make a career from it. I’ve turned down a few offers. A lot of times the product/service/whatever wasn’t a good fit at all… others because I really felt uncomfortable keeping an ad on my site for a full year. This last one was nice, but she’s upped the offer twice now and I’m getting torn. I could use the money… but is it really worth x-amount to have this random page that doesn’t quite fit on my blog for a full year? Right now, I’m still saying no. It’s just hard finding something that feels right.

    • It’s really hard to turn down money for something that’s not quite the right fit. But even though this sounds over the top – would I really want to “live with myself” if I took the money for something I didn’t fully support/believe in?

  3. I would have done the same thing. I’ve been very careful when it comes to sponsored articles. In the early days of Free and Flawed I agreed to anything because I was just so excited to be noticed. But there came a point where it began to feel fake and forced and it wasn’t rewarding for me or readers.

    I have relationships with a couple people who send opportunities my way, but they’re always respectful when/if I decline. Usually, like you, I’ll introduce them to a couple bloggers who might be a better fit.

    I promote things that I love or believe in. Extra cash is tempting, but I never want to be the blogger who subliminally-messaged a new mother into getting plastic surgery.

  4. Before I accept a sponsored post for my blog, I ask myself this question… “Would I be recommending this product / service / whatever if I wasn’t getting paid?” If the answer is yes, I’ll usually accept it. If the answer is no, I won’t. It’s not generally a big issue for me because I rarely get approached, but when I am, I’m pretty picky about what I post.

  5. That’s shady as hell. You did the right thing. Even if you did believe in plastic surgery, would you really want to deal with a company that misrepresented itself up front?

    As a personal finance blogger I get approached about credit card and insurance links (often for old posts which is fine, sometimes for new ones, which if I can fit into a post idea, I’ll go with). But I refuse to consider pay day loan links, which many many PF bloggers have on their sites.

  6. I’m definitely picky about what I review or get compensated for, I mean there is no point in me writing a post about pepper spray, haha.

  7. There’s a few blogs that I used to love reading, that have basically turned into commercials because almost every post feels like a plug. I don’t mind them every once in a while especially if they fit into the blog and don’t feel sponsored. (girlsgonechild.net is my favorite for that!) As for me I don’t get a lot of pitches, but most of the ones I’ve received I’ve said no to. So maybe that’s why. I’m not sure what my “official answer is” except that it’s hard to draw the line.

  8. It sounds to me like you made the right choice. I’ve been asked to do sponsored posts about several things and have turned them down. My litmus test is, “Is this something that I would read, or would I just click ‘mark as read’?” So far, no sponsored post has struck me as being good enough. That may change, but I’d rather turn down the money than risk losing readers.

  9. I specialize in blogger relations for my job, but I’ve also been on the receiving end of some bad pitches for my personal blog.

    It stinks to turn down money, but your blog is an extension of you and you’ve got to be true to yourself. It’s really easy to disclose when something is sponsored, and I’m sure your readers would be okay with some sponsored content now and again, but is the message they’re trying to convey something you believe in? If not, turn it down. If it is, but you’re not sure you want to do it the way they’re asking, see if you can come up with a way to make it work for you and your blog and pitch the idea back to them. It never hurts to ask.

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