Are there any ethical bloggers left out there?

With your kind support, {grow} has become a fairly popular blog. With this distinction, I’m deluged with requests to do sponsored posts (companies offering to pay for their promotional content to show up as a blog post).

The scams seem to be getting more aggressive and extreme and I recently pointed out the example of a guy who flat-out lied to me just to get a back-link on this blog.  It makes me wonder … if there are so many people trying to pay me to turn {grow} into their advertisement, they must be having enough success to make it worth their while, right?

There must be a critical mass of influential bloggers out there accepting money for blog posts, otherwise these people would go away!

What follows is a word-for-word transcript of messages exchanged between myself and an actual company seeking a paid placement on {grow}.  I’ve only changed the real name of the writer and her company because I don’t need to embarass this person …

Hello Mark!

I am interested in content advertising opportunities on your site, Schaefer Marketing Solutions,because of its great pool of write-ups.

By the way, this is Susan Rafstein and I work for Synchristic Hosting.com.

Our company is one of the most reliable guides for webmasters and website development in the market. We offer in-depth reviews of various hosting providers and other web-related tutorials.

Are you interested?

Susan

Susan,

Thanks for connecting with me.

If I am reading your inquiry correctly, you are looking to advertise on my blog. Specifically, what do you have in mind?

Mark

Hi Mark!

You got that right. Actually, I’m looking for a possibility if you can do a review of our company, Synchristic Hosting.com. Tell me how much would it cost us for you to publish the review in the blog area of your website.

Hoping you’ll consider.

Susan

Susan,

Maybe this appears old-fashioned but I think being paid to do a positive review is unethical.

Mark

Mark,

I’m sorry if that didn’t sound right to you Mark. That was just merely a suggestion–didn’t say that the review is gonna lean towards the positive side. But I bet that incase you do you it, we will do good.

Anyway, what about we do a guest post?

Susan

Susan,

In all due respect, you are approaching this “pitch” in a disastrous way.

If I am unwilling to be paid to promote your company through a blog post, why would I do it for free? And how does one “review” a hosting company any way?

I have built my blog and my community on excellent content and I’ve built trust, in part,  by not allowing outside companies to convert these great people into sales leads.

Occasionally I do have guest posts from individuals who are active members in the community. I invite them to do posts because they have great ideas or to help them get some exposure for their own work.

However, I’ve never heard of you or your company before so it’s unlikely that I would unleash you on a community of people who have also become my friends.

I would invite you to read my blog, get to know the folks around here, and show up through comments before asking me to promote your content.

This is probably the same reaction you will receive from other trustworthy bloggers, or at least I hope so!  If you do a search on “how to pitch to bloggers” I think you will get much of the same advice I’m providing here.

Best wishes, Mark

Hi Mark!

Again, my apologies if I’m sounding a bit off in your standards. Thanks for the advice and I will take note of that.

I’ve been doing this for quite some time now and honestly, you’re the only one who had that reaction. But there’s a first time for everything, right?

Anyway, I’m concluding this as a negative response from you. Thanks for your time.

Susan

P.S.: Just in case you change your mind, you can send me an email anytime.

Another variation on paid content is paying for backlinks.  I am routinely being offered $100 per link, even if I sneak them into old blog posts.  And while it’s unlikely that many people would ever know about this, I would know about it and it seems … unethical.  Or is it?  Does anybody out there really care any more or are most bloggers link whores?

I’m also seeing a growing number of bloggers routinely featuring their customer in blog posts. Are they directly or indirectly being paid for these posts and links, or simply being polite? Do blog readers notice this like I do? Do they care? Are we just getting numb to it? Or is it smart business?

When I get inquiries like the one above, I wonder if I am that much out of step with the times compared to other bloggers.  Am I simply idealistic?  Stupid?  Surely I can’t be the only one taking a stand on this kind of graft, right?  What do you think?  Would you take the money?

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