Monday, October 16, 2006

Blue Ferret BlogTip 10-16-06 - How to Keep Your Credibility on Paid Posts

The number of bloggers writing paid-for reviews - their own ads, in other words - will increase in the coming years. The controversy is already flaring up, as you can see in the comments to TechCrunch's post on pay-per-post outfits.

Personally, I don't like the idea of an independent blogger dishing out their credibility for a quick paycheck. But the whole point of blogging is the freedom to give out what information you want. I'm not going to speak against that.

So I thought, "Well Chris, if you could contribute something here - like some advice - what would it be?"

And my brain said, "What about a fast and simple way for these bloggers to fully disclose which posts are paid for?"

Good brain.

Now, there's no sense in assuming your readers are idiots. They'll figure out you've written an ad about ten seconds in. Identifying a post as paid for ahead of time does more for your reputation than their thought processes. "Oh, he's letting me know even before I start reading that he got paid to write this one. Very honest of him."

Without further ado - my suggestion for a 2-part credibility-keeping strategy.

ONE - Place a small graphic near the top of the post. It could state that the following post is an ad, or just have a specific symbol (like this: ) that you've previously indicated accompanies an ad.

TWO - Include a standard text disclaimer at the post's end. Nothing fancy. "The above post was paid for by my sponsor, XYZ Inc. All facts are verifiable. Contact Jeff at XYZ Inc. (email) for questions." Could be even shorter, if the sponsoring company doesn't want their name included.

This way you're covered on both ends. You're being completely honest, SEO is satisfied, you can categorize, your readers are in no way misled, and they have a choice. They can skip the post if they want, or go in with eyes open.

Credibility is a tenuous thing. You can lose it in a second, even though it takes a long time to gain. Don't lose all of yours for a few bucks. If you want to be paid for posting, make the effort to sustain your rep.



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