Thursday, 16 June 2011

On Blogging, Brands, and Selling Out.

The thought of taking advertising on this blog has always repulsed me. I've never had a PR page, or a media kit, or any of that shiz. My blog happened accidentally. These days, though, it's getting trickier to navigate offers being made. Why am I saying no? Maybe, I could say yes to some things without compromising my integrity? And why am I laughing at myself using the word "integrity" to describe myself??

I have always loved the way Frank from PostSecret never opened his blog up to ads. Touting PostSecret as: "... the largest advertisement-free blog in the world." At last count, it has had over 447 million hits. Can you imagine the money that guy could have made? He does speaking tours and sells books, instead. I like how it's more of a movement ... a community effort, than some big branded flashy thing. Sometimes you just can't put a dollar value on things. People have called Frank crazy.

There is a site simply called "Ad free blog" If you add the badge to your blog, it means that you:

"Oppose the use of corporate advertising on blogs. You feel the use of corporate advertising on blogs devalues the medium; and do not accept money in return for advertising space on your blog."

I like this. Everything doesn't have to be bought ... and yet, try telling that to my husband.

He has grown increasingly interested in this blog, and how "we" can make money from it. Recently he tried to convince me to take out a half-page Edenland ad in our local paper. To get businesses involved, pump the ads out and the sponsored posts. I tell him again and again that I just can't do that, and when he asks me why ..... I don't have a clear answer. I just know I can't do it. (In the meantime, Dave steals the Ford this morning, sticks his work magnets on it, and asked me to drive around with them on for as long as we have the car. And then he tells me to take a photo and post in my blog. I tell him I can't, and he doesn't understand why. I ask him, does he want the internet to know his mobile number? He says yes. Well, ok hon.)

In the coming weeks I am going to rebuild my blogroll (it got lost the other day, from my transition from blogspot to dot com) onto a different page, and probably open a few spaces for rent on this blog - to other bloggers only, or a mixture of brands and bloggers ... I'm not sure yet. I always thought that if I did that, it would compromise what I say. I feel like I need permission. Perhaps I should follow my own advice .. "You are the boss of your own blog."

I'd like to take this whole shebang more seriously. I've always likened it to stealing time away from my family, so if I had more time to focus, I can build it up stronger and better than ever. (I want so much to start returning every single one of my emails.) Holy shit - what if I've only just BEGUN to blog?

I wrote about the Disney day because Rocco and I had such a great time. Hell - I'm getting full sponsorship from a certain purple drink to fly to America for BlogHer in August. I'll write a whole post about that here tomorrow, complete with full transparency around how it occurred.

I'm talking about Ford lately, because they gave me a $60,000 car to drive around in for a while. It's just an extended test-drive, really. But I intend to use this space - and that car, to raise awareness of things that need awareness raised. (And in the process, take the goddamn focus off MYSELF, and my stupidly plentiful "issues." )

In my dentist post the other day, I mentioned how bad I felt at getting teeth whitening when a large chunk of the world's population has no access to clean drinking water. (Oh, the poor rich white woman with the guilty conscience! VOMIT.) Not long after, I received an email from the people at .. a company started by two college graduates to ship premium organic soap in to customer’s homes monthly. "LifeSoap gives 90 percent of their after-tax profits to bring cleanwater to children and communities around the world."

At first I thought, what a crock. It's probably just scam, and they've photoshopped the faces of smiling South American children into their website. Further investigation led me to realise that it was not a scam. If my two boys grow up with such a sense of caring and social justice, I will be SO PROUD. The soap guys mantra? “Growing up, we desire success. But growing wise, we desire significance. We want to know that our life meant something.” – Juwon Melvin, Founder, LifeSoap Company

Shouldn't they be running around town getting drunk? No? People like this exist in the world? How can that even happen?

So. In conclusion: I still have no idea what I'm doing, but I promise to try and make the right decisions here. As if I can ever change, anyway. I now get a LOT of PR pitches and they're always, "Of course, you can change the words to suit the tone of your blog." Yeah. The tone of my blog? Why that's the tone of a desperate woman trying so hard to live life the best way she knows, complete with swearing, major fuckups, and inappropriateness. I was telling my dentist about how I wrote about her on my blog the other day, and she said she was going to go home and read it. So now my dentist knows I've been to rehab. And she hasn't done my crown yet GREAT.

I'll tell you one thing for free - the one, single reason above all else, of why I blog, and would continue to blog for free for the rest of my days?

You. The things you tell me back, the way we all can identify with so much .. you people are AMAZING.

Life Soap Company is on twitter and facebook

PS Dave just rang me and said, "Hon, I've been thinking. Can you upload your tweeter to your video blogs?"

It doesn't even make sense.


  1. Integrity and ethics are the bane of my existence. entire existence. I, like you, have had a flood... no, a tsunami, of offers for sponsored posts. I also had a very lucrative offer of sponsorship for my kids video series which I rejected because the company uses non certified palm oil. That video series has taken over 2 years to produce because we've had to fund almost the whole thing ourselves. It could be finished if I took that money but I didn't... and I could cry if I thought about it too much but I have a migraine and thinking scares me.
    I have advertising available on my blog under strict conditions and I'm currently turning down ads because I don't have time to blog regularly enough to feel like I'd be doing the advertisers justice. I thought about starting a separate blog just so I could do sponsored posts but I thought even then, I'd have to be careful what I said and who I featured because people may assume that my opinion might be swayed by the almighty dollar. So, instead, I remain poor in dollars but rich in the ability to say whatever the fuck I like. So screw you corporate Australia... *double handed middle finger salute* I'm not for sale.

  2. Embrace all the opportunities that blogging brings you. Seriously. If you like a company's product and you think your readers would too - then flog it on the blog. If you can earn a living from it, even better.

    It isn't selling out.

  3. Do what feels right to you. Pfft what am I saying, as if you wouldn't! I'll be reading regardless because I know you'll be true to yourself in every post.

  4. I think you're so freakin' amazing. And I love that you're YOU.

  5. It is only selling out if you promote something you don't agree with. You can still do sponsored posts and maintain your integrity and ethics, you may just have to be selective. Good luck!

  6. Agreed with Queensland Girl.
    She pretty much said everything I wanted to.

  7. Do what feels right to you, ma'am. It's your blog, and they can't make you do PR. If it's something you don't agree with, you have the right to turn them down without feeling guilty about it. After all, going into it, they know that you might say no. That's why it's a request, not a demand. They can never demand you to do PR for them. It's your decision. If you want to do PR for them, then do so. If you get money for it and you are happy with that, even better. Just do what feels right for you, because that's what really matters.

    aka Perpetually Me

  8. Selling out schmelling out...(how rude does that sound???...) Embrace what comes your way, snatch it up with both hands and have a ball with it. xxx

  9. Sitting here giggling about Dave's enthusiasm and clueless question.

    As for selling out, don't worry about it. As long as you do what feels right to you, it's all ok.

  10. You are only selling out if you do something that sits ill with you in this very personal space of yours. We, your devoted readers, know you enough through your words to understand you would never give anything the time of day that didnt pass your morality test with flying colours.

    So go grab any opportunities that come your way! Why should you pass down anything in life that might make life exciting, or easier? Best of luck!

  11. Please please tell Dave to start his own blog. He very funneh guy. Hehe.

    And yep, I agree with the others. Do what feels right for you

  12. I agree with pretty much everyone else here! As long as you're not just spouting PR about something you don't care about, you're still being authentic. Good luck!

  13. Blah blah blah blah PR pitch blah blah blah blah. TORLET.

  14. Eden I'm probably not the best person to advise as my blog has always been a commercial entity, firstly as a marketing tool for my business; now as part of the business itself.

    But - and it's a very big but - I have my own guidelines and I stick strongly to them. I will not write about a product that I haven't trialled. And I write with useful information and advice for others (hopefully) in an entertaining way. I'm happy with that and my readers seem ok too.

    I'm so stoked that you are heading off to BlogHer representing the Australian blogging community - and if a sponsor helps you get there - then I say, good on you!


  15. Your blog may have started accidentally, but the opportunities coming your way are real. Whatever you do your words and stories will always be enough to keep your readers coming back, and if any of the opportunities you get make your life a little easier, then all the better, life is hard enough to start with.

  16. The Soap mantra is amazing. Your husband cracked me the fuck up. Put me on your blogroll or I will shank you.

  17. You can pick and choose what you want to do. You don't have to have an all or nothing approach. It's still your blog. I don't monetise mine, but have no objection to others doing so. Why not? x

  18. You are not selling out. You're not selling out until the benefits and perks you receive begin to influence what you write and how your write - Something which I know will never happen with you, my love x

  19. I read this post this morning and I thought I was just let it sit on mind for while...see how it fit. it is. I'm like you. I'm not comfortable with the whole sponsored post, advertising, giveaway palava primarily because I haven't gotten my head around my blog yet. I simply do not have the headspace for it at the moment (or the followers...but you know...if you build it they will come).

    So you're an accidental blogger. You just started writing one day and next thing you know you're up for a Ford Territory and the purple drink is sending you to Blog Her 11. Now you're an accidental PR machine.

    The fact remains Eden, you have time on your side. Your blog isn't going anywhere so it's not like you need to make a decision right here and now. Look what you managed to accomplish without even trying. Imagine if you did. You'd be dangerous.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  20. You are you and I cannot see how aligning with a brand (or not) will ever change that xx

  21. I don't think anyone has a problem with bloggers making money. What is unethical is to pretend you don't have sponsored posts when you do. When readers find that out, then they naturally feel like they have been lied to, after all was that post positive because who it was sponsored by etc.

    I'm sure you will tell us what is sponsored and what isn't and then if people don't like it then they won't read it.

  22. I'm very open about monetising my blog. Your blog, your rules. I don't see it as a sell out. I am SO thrilled that you girls are being sponsored to go to BlogHer! x

  23. It's all about transparency. Be transparent, give them the choice to read a sponsored post at the start of the post so they can decide to skip it if they want.

    And giveaways, I loves me a giveaway, free product, hell to the yeah, send that my way!

    You are you, making some money from being you isn't going to change who you are (and that is, a kick arse blogger and mother and wife and talker etc)

    Do it! You deserve some perks.

    And send me a line letting me know who your dentist is!

    Peace Out

  24. Ultimately I am just going to echo what everyone else has already said . . . do what feels right to you.

    This is your space, your voice and, if you want, your opportunity to accept some financial benefits for doing something that you love. I suspect that you if decide to accept ads etc. that you will continue to write the way that you always have . . . with honesty and integrity and of course the liberal use of the word "fuck".

  25. One of the things that draws me to your blog is your honesty and integrity. I don't imagine that you would choose a corporation that you didn't believe in and I can't imagine that you would advertise a product without actually endorsing it. If in the end your opinion is different than ours - so be it. It's your blog and your opinion.
    I believe in karma. You've done a lot of hard work on this blog - exposing yourself/your past and by doing so you've given us the courage chip away at our own walls. I may be a nurse but YOU have helped so many of us HEAL. Now some amazing opportunities are coming your way.
    Run with it dear girl. Run with it.

  26. Do what feels right, hon.

    I pick and choose. I turn down stuff all the time. I've decided not to advertise on my blog for now. I reckon I have enough on there. I don't write sponsored posts per se. If I get a product, and IF I like it, I'll blog about it. I wouldn't blog about something I didn't believe in.

    And writing about products can still be entertaining. Hell, you've just got to read Mrs Woog to see that. I never feel like I'm reading posts about products when she mentions stuff in her posts. Bloody entertaining!

    Do what feels right! xxx

  27. Your blog is successful because you blog as your authentic self - so anything that changes that would be wrong for your blog (& obviously your authentic self..)

    If a product reflects your particular ideals, I can't see why you should reject the promotion of it, paid or otherwise. There are lots of commercial organisations out there that are not the epitome of fat ugly capitalism..

    It isn't an all or nothing thing, you can choose.

  28. I'm pretty sure you're kind of inspire me.

  29. I agree with Maxabella who said you don't have to take an all or nothing approach...and just about everyone else's comments as well.

    Don't burn your bridges, Eden. Soak up the opportunities. People like you, they really like you!

    I think it's amazing that there is money to be made by blogging. It seems to have a become a legit thing.

    Just try to find a balance. That's my mantra.

  30. See, even when you're talking blah blah about ethics and branding and all that shit, I still read and I am now late for yoga schmoga.

    Do what feels right in your gut babe, and you can't go wrong. Simple as.


  31. WOW. how wise are you all? VERY. Thank you ... I just read these incredible comments and realised that I did need your permission after all. You told me things I didn't even think of. Never fails to surprise me to learn that I don't know everything.

    You're pretty clued up, you know.

  32. I agree with Maxabella, that it doesn't have to be an all or nothing approach.

    I personally don't mind ads on blogs, I don't find them particularly offensive (as long as there's not too many). I have ads but about to get rid of them as they've been a waste of time, really.

    I occasionally do write about products, but my philosophy is similar to what others have written. It has to be something I like and something I'd be willing to recommend to my friends (cause that's who a lot of my readers are). Also, there has to be something in it for the readers (ie a giveaway). I'm also completely transparent that I've been sent the stuff and I'm completely honest in my opinion.

    The times when, as a reader, the PR stuff grates is when a blogger goes from great writing to writing only once a week and that sole post is about a launch or a product. That's when a blog becomes boring or what I consider a sell-out. I know that you won't do that.

  33. Maybe this is the Universe paying you back for not quitting when it was really, really shitty to you? I think you would be true to yourself and us no matter what, so if it allows more opportunities for you and your family then go for it!


  34. Well, you know - one question answered anyway. If you didn't have integrity, you wouldn't worry about any of this.

    Dave is the perfect example of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!" You should get him started on his own blog. It could be a video/photo blog of all his work. And you could send all those PR pitches to his blog...

  35. Eddie,

    I love your husband's brain. (yours, too, of course -- like my own).

    I love, love, love your success. Mazeltov. Go, Babe. GO!!!

    Can you start a "private" blog? I agree this one is still awesome. But I miss you. And it sounds like you miss you, too. Can you split the two? (yes)

    Just a thought.


  36. Ha! Dave writing a blog of his own is an awesome idea. He could call it "Eden's Man" lol. Think of all the free advertising you could get from that, Dave!

    Oh, E. I agree with the others. I doubt anyone could question your integrity. Trust yourself. You've done a pretty good job making decisions so far...

    quit laughing!

    Much love!

  37. Please never doubt yourself again. I will come and give you a nipple cripple.

  38. I don't know why we consider making money doing something we love as selling out. Too many of us are stuck doing something we don't love for money -- I think when one of us can carve out a living from our passion, it's the ultimate gift.

    So sell, sell, sell, baby! Writers have to cash in for christ's sake -- the reclusive lifestyle don't come cheap!

    Did Dave get my fax?


  39. If you are putting your heart and soul into something, let alone all the countless hours blogging takes, and you are making a difference in the lives of others, then I see absolutely no problem with you be rewarded for that.
    Actually, you deserve to be rewarded. Don't feel guilty about it and never think you are selling out.
    You've earned your spot so why not make some money so you can put it towards doing things you love.
    As long as you remain true to yourself and your message while you are doing it. If you don't do that, then you are selling out.
    But, the beauty of this is that it is your blog, your decisions. you don't answer to a corporate bosses, policies and rules. You can say no to those that fit and hell yeah to those that do!

  40. Congrats On Blogher. That will just be amaazing!

    Do what you feel is right for you in PR. It's your blog, your place, your rules.

    PS A blog for Dave is an awesome idea.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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