There are 112 million blogs out there. But how many of them can you trust? I’m not just talking about reliable information. Rather, I wonder if some of those blog posts you’re reading got published only because their writers were shilling for a product.
One of the more popular enablers of blogging-for-dollars is PayPerPost.com, a two-year-old service that links online writers with companies hoping to get their products out into the blogosphere.
Corporations add “Opportunities” to an area on the PayPerPost site, allowing registered bloggers (all 50,000 of them, supposedly) to choose from a variety of stuff to hawk, from real estate firms to chocolate bars.
These blogged ads start at $5 per post, with higher rates depending on another variable. As PayPerPost states, “Bloggers with high amounts of traffic can expect to earn a significant amount of money for each post they create on behalf of an advertiser.”
ABC News calls PayPerPost nothing more than a “high-tech sandwich board.” That’s not far off, although Mathew Honan says it’s a simplistic characterization. He should know – on assignment for Wired Magazine, Honan joined PayPerPost and wrote about his month-long experience.
Honan says he tried to write about compelling subjects but quickly ran out of ideas or, “Opps,” from partnered advertisers.
Within a few days, he had to resort to “link spam,” and wrote about that in the Wired piece. “I take the Opportunity from Custom-Writing.org. [a term-paper-writing service], I whip off something half-baked, include a link with the required nonsensical anchor text (‘What you need to do is buy essay’) and publish. Unbelievably, it’s approved.”
In every post, Honan must disclose that the PayPerPost blog is paid by an advertiser. That admission supposedly puts PayPerPost in the clear in terms of up-front honesty.
But it’s obvious that Web readers skip over boring phrases just to get to the meat. So a PayPerPost article on the wonders of a cold medication may sound, if the fine print is overlooked, like a blogger enthusiastically praising the Big Pharma product.
“There is certainly a credibility problem with PayPerPost,” Honan says. “It’s advertising, plain and simple. Is any advertising credible? When someone’s being paid to promote something, that promotion is inherently suspect.”
As if PayPerPost couldn’t get any shadier, its parent company, Izea, has recently launched a social network allowing members to blog for cash. SocialSpark is just another gambit to jump on the Facebook bandwagon and tempt amateur writers to earn money by blogging about bullshit.
Honan says there are easier ways to make money from home. “I found myself toiling over $5 posts, spending a lot more time on them than they were worth in terms of an hourly wage. I could have done far, far better by getting a part-time job.”