“This technology article is sponsored by Comcast Business Class, the nation’s leading communication services provider.”
As soon as I read that, I knew I wasn’t going to finish the article. Why? Because I know it’s impossible to trust an author when you know he’ll be profiting off of your business – if he can convince you to believe what he says.
Should bloggers make money? Sure. As you can see, there are ads on this site, as well as Amazon affiliate links. If something interests you, click away. But do I design my site around, and base my content on, something that I think will make me money? Absolutely not. My writing strives to be honest, transparent, and meaningful – not persuasive (as in “persuading you to buy”). If I can change your mind about an idea or a concept, that’s excellent. But I’m not going to try to convince you to spend your money. In fact, if I can persuade you NOT to spend your money, I’d consider that a success.
There are a few products I’m researching right now. and I’m considering posting my review of them. I’m caught in quandary, though: Is that a conflict of interest on my part? How can you believe I’m giving you a gut-level assessment if I’m profiting when you purchase the product?
It’s a sticky situation, with no black and white lines. I’m sure each blogger (and each website) has to make their own decisions. I just thought I’d pass on this simple thought: The best blogs seek the best interest of their readers. They’re profitable because they’re providing great content or a great service – not because they’re marketing a product.*
*Of course, there is the exception of a blog that is created around a specific product, in which case the blog is literally designed FOR THE PURPOSE of marketing the product. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
So, what do you think? Where’s the line between writing content and writing press releases?