There have been numerous debates, posts and Tweets in SA recently about whether or not bloggers should be paid to blog for companies. What follows is my thoughts on the matter (but by no means my final words).
I read blogs for enjoyment, news, thoughts, opinions, advice and so on. I like to dabble in a wide variety from friends’ blogs to those of strangers and the Oh-So-Hip blogs who make all the social media dos. I’m looking for honesty, raw, real opinion. If you’re being paid by Brand A to blog about their product, the last thing you’ll probably be is honest. I’ve actually unfollowed many a blog as it became more and more obvious they were just a platform for rewritten press releases. Boring. Dull. I can get this info from any standard website, your glowing review of a product you were paid to review, just stinks of dishonesty.
My problem also comes when a blogger does both paid and unpaid for posts. It’s a lot like the magazine world – you need to differentiate authentic editorial content from the paid for content. It lets the reader know which post is totally free from commercial pressures and what a client has basically asked to be placed. Undoubtedly, a lot of bloggers will claim editorial freedom and that they don’t post word-for-word what an advertiser asks them too. But what they definitely won’t post are the negative – even if they are the truth.
It’s not so much being paid to blog that I have a problem with, but the lack of honesty and transparency about what’s paid for and what’s not. I’ve seen numerous Tweeters (Twitterers? Twutters?) add the #sp hashtag to a tweet to show what they’ve been paid to say and what’s just them. It’d be pretty awesome if blogs started to follow the same thinking.