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Ethics of being paid to promote?

Discussion in 'Freelancing' started by Joe F, Dec 17, 2015.

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  1. As a freelance blogger who gets paid to write for a few different websites, I often get approached by product (themes and plugins) developers who want me to include their items in the posts I write for my clients.

    Sometimes offers of payment are mentioned for featuring their product in one of the articles I write for a client.

    So far I've always said thanks but no thanks. If they want to send me a free copy to test out I will take it, but with no guarantee that I will feature the item when I write a related article.

    However, I'm just wondering where others stand on this?

    Would you take a payment for including a product you were going to mention anyway?

    If the site you are writing offers a paid promotional post service where product owners can pay the site owner for a featured post, would this affect your judgement?

    Would it be wrong for a freelance blogger to be 'sponsored' by a product or service and be compensated for recommending that product or service each time the topic comes up? I guess its like being a 'brand ambassador' or something.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. So long as you disclose that you are being paid, there's nothing wrong with it. If you place an affiliate ad for your hosting provider on your website, you need to state "Sponsored Content" or something similar, how is this any different from any other affiliate deal you may have?
     
    Heather likes this.
  3. #3 Heather, Dec 18, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
    I think that being open and honest and acting in integrity are the main things... So working with brands/companies/products you truly love should make it work.

    Like Kevin said, as long as you disclose it, it should be fine. You might want to check out the blog I mentioned in the post I wrote about underwritten content. She has a lot of posts that are sponsored by various brands.

    Here is an example of a post sponsored by Kashi. http://www.styleandpepperblog.com/2015/12/travel-organic-sweet-potato-farm/

    And here's one sponsored by Lean Cuisine. Notice how she says in the disclosure that they paid for her travel and expenses, but that the thoughts and opinions expressed are her own.

    http://www.styleandpepperblog.com/2012/09/healthy-living-lean-cuisine-roundtable/
     
  4. I get requests for this all the time as well.

    My response is always the same. I say that I have a good working relationship with all of my clients and that sneaking links into my articles is not something I can do. I do say, however, that if I was writing a related article and found their service useful, I would naturally link to it anyways.

    Some are quite pushy about it, but it really isn't worth doing it in my eyes as it could affect my standing with clients. I prefer to keep everything above board with those kind of things.

    It's obviously a different story with my own blog, but when I am writing for someone else, they should have the final say as to whether sponsorships are integrated with content.
     
  5. If you are "paid" to write articles for clients, then I think it is unethical to post other sponsored links. You already get paid once to post an article. If I was the client, I will be completely unhappy if I heard that one my writers got paid to write a product review of someone else. If he told me that he want to post that review for free since he already get money, then I might accept it if the product is ok. I think that the decision if a review of a certain product will be published should be on the owner of the website.

    On the other hand, if the writer owns the blog where the review is posted, there is another discussion. I have some blogs where I post few articles a month and I am approached by a lot of PR staff. If I feel the product is fine then I publish the review. But I own the website and I write at the same time. I do not use someone else website for this.
     
  6. I think they go the wrong way, and I do something different.

    I'm in the process of preparing WP Email Capture for the new year, which will include some promotion. My approach would be for a paid post on a freelancers' blog or anywhere they would like a post. The hope is that I develop a working relationship with this person, in the hope they will maybe include me further.

    Like what Kevin & Joe do in building relationships with sites. I think plugin authors should develop relationships with freelance writers.
     
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  7. That's a good idea.

    I naturally link to the useful plugins I have experience with so if there is more chance of me linking to plugins if I have used them myself.
     
  8. #9 BrinWilson, Dec 21, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
    If I found out that a writer had accepted money from another party to include a plugin or theme (or whatever) in a post that I'd paid the writer to write for me, that would probably be the end of my relationship with that particular writer.

    I sometimes get writers propose posts to me saying that a third party is prepared to pay them to write it if it can be published on my blog. I don't mind being asked, but the answer is always the same: thanks but no thanks.
     
  9. #10 BrinWilson, Dec 21, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
    - incidentally, many blogs like WebDesignerDepot (to name just one of many) charge in the region of $3000-$5000 for sponsored posts. So it's kind of comical to me that some companies seem to think all they need to do to get a post up on my site is to pay the writing fee. That's just not how it works (and even more so since I don't personally even offer any sponsored post opportunities on my site whatsoever) . ;)
     
  10. I agree. I wouldn't be happy if I found a guest poster or paid writer was sneaking links into articles on my blog because any sponsorship deal has to be paid to the blog owner themselves.
     
  11. I do a agree with Lucian here. And bloggers and writers who do guest posting shouldn't use the opportunity to abuse the activity.

    Like @Kevin Muldoon mentioned above, if the product/service is targeted, you may want to link to it, but not for the payment.
     
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  12. Hey Joe F! Thanks for bringing up this topic... Honestly, I've been asked a couple of times, if this is right to get profits from promoting certain products. I don't think it's a bad idea, in case this is a mutual cooperation thing and if it doesn't hurt your reputation and authority as a blogger.
    What to do in case you test the product and like it? Maybe you yourself would like to tell people about it not because of money but because you find it useful? Then why not promote it and get some reward? :) In certain situations you can do good by promoting certain products.
    Another thing is that it should be ethical and not interfere with somebody else's business... People should be careful with that stuff definitely.
    That's like an ideal world to me)
     
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
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