There is a sometimes violent argument from some social media advocates about the idea of monetizing your blog activities. To the more hard lined, there is never an appropriate time to “sell out” your audience. They nobly cite editorial integrity, journalistic creeds, and the dangers of bias from being too close to the money when asserting your opinion.
On the Other Hand…
On the other extreme side, you have the blogs completely sponsored by corporations, blatantly promotional in nature, and clearly designed to positively shape the conversation to their favor. They might even create multiple fake personas who spout hyperbolic niceties to make it sound like a conversation is happening and everybody agrees that Company X is the best thing ever.
Social media mavens like Chris Brogan assert there is a third tribe – the overwhelming majority of us who see social as both a community and an opportunity for financial enrichment. This tribe respects their audience and their audience frequently turns to them for solid, reliable advice on what they should buy. To us (I count myself among them), it’s our obligation to cut through the noise in the marketplace and give an honest (albeit admittedly not objective) assessment of options and share the tools and resources we use to make a living online.
10 Questions to Ask Yourself
Financing our blogging efforts can be an upfront, disclosed, and forthright way to create the proverbial “win-win” – I share, you share, we all are better off. Determining the right time and place, the perfect fit sponsorship, the appropriate brands to engage is another matter.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you start:
- Do you use the brand’s products?
- Are you and your audience in alignment with the brand’s values, business practices, and advertising methods?
- Is the brand appropriate to the values of your community?
- Is the brand appropriate to the needs of your community?
- Is your community open to being solicited?
- Do you feel comfortable with soliciting your audience?
- Can you justify why you would recommend the brand and does that reason make sense beyond just getting some money?
- Is the dollar value you might gain worth any potentially negative fallout from your audience?
- Does partnering with the brand include gaining access to their audience too?
- Are you willing to openly disclose your brand loyalty? (it’s required by US law to disclose paid affiliations – check your country for legal guidelines for you)
Disclose and Go!
If you can answer yes to all the above questions, you’re probably in pretty safe territory to solicit brands to sponsor, pay you, provide free products for review, and more. Openly disclose, talk about what you’re doing, and be willing to make adjustments if it doesn’t work out like you expected.
One word of serious caution: protect your email list if you have not gotten explicit permission to share it. Your terms of service must be honored and you don’t want to get popped for being a spammer, so don’t act like one. Otherwise, providing resources and getting paid to promote them is a legitimate form of revenue development. At, least for me it is and for many others too. You have to decide that question ultimately for yourself. Just remember to have fun with it!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/landofnodstudios/4711978937/sizes/m/in/photostream/