The second rule of blog monetisation? You do not talk about not talking about blog monetisation.
Unless you do.
The more seriously I'm taking my blog, the more pitches I'm receiving from people and companies. The other week a PR told me she loves my blog, then pitched me to write about booze. I'm not a diva, yet did think it was funny to receive an offer of a free bottle of spirits if I wrote about it on my blog.
I almost tweeted something tongue-in-cheek, but didn't want to embarrass her. I ignored the pitch, then received a very apologetic email from her the next day after she realised her error.
(If you're not sure what I'm talking about .... I sort of re-enacted Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas for my entire twenties. Especially the part about the prickly pear.)
So. The PR apologises to the recovering alcoholic blogger for asking her to review a bottle of spirits on her blog. Honestly, I didn't mind being asked. It felt like I was "normal," like, I could receive any pitches and write about alcohol freely just like all the other bloggers! She felt so bad, I emailed her back straight away to say it was cool and to please don't stress.
On a whim I wrote, "In fact, I used to drink that very drink and really liked it. I can write about it on my blog for a thousand dollars."
Blow me down she said YES.
I rang Dave. "You little beauty! You should have asked for two!"
I thought about what I was going to write. Nothing too outrageous ... just a normal post with a few links whacked in and BAM. I can make a dent in my ridiculous credit card debt. Felt good! Until something kind of gnawed at me. I brushed it away - no! I can write about anything I want to. I'm my own boss.
Last weekend at my nephews party (which had a Mario impersonator who I was strangely attracted to) ... I mentioned it to my sister Leigh, asked her what she thought.
"No f*cken way! You can't do that! So wrong."
Thank goodness for honest sisters. I was so relieved .... of course I can't do that. It would be ridiculous. But above all of everything .. you know what it would be? Hear me stab myself in the eye when I type out this next sentence .... it would not be in keeping with my brand.
I just vomited on myself and I'm not even drunk. Why did I vomit? Because calling myself a brand makes me nauseous. Why am I not drunk? Because I'm a recovering alcoholic who has written openly on the internet about being a recovering alcoholic and I have a responsibility to myself and to people reading my blog.
So I wrote back to this PR chick and apologised, told her I couldn't do it but please keep me in mind for other stuff. She said she will .. she is really cool.
I get to feel all self-righteous, right? Especially since I have a sponsored post soon for something that I really believe in.
You know what makes me uneasy - what if I was offered $5000 to write that alcohol post? Or $10,000 - who could say no to $10,000? As more money gets poured into blog advertising down here in Australia, I have to ask myself, how much am I worth? How much are you worth?
I've been analysing the pros and cons of blog monetisation, and one thing has become very clear:
The true transaction of a sponsored post is not between the blogger and the company, or even the blogger and the PR firm. The true transaction of blog monetisation occurs between the blogger and the reader. It is the reader who pays. You pay with one of the internet's most scarce and precious resources ... your attention. Why do bloggers get paid? Because of the people reading their site. Simple.
So if I'm really going to do this thing, I'm going to need to do it well. Spend extra time on a sponsored post to make it interesting. To give and to keep giving pieces of me, like I always have. Refill my reserve tank of respect and trust. I've heard blog advertising likened to watching your favourite show and then an ad comes on. Do you throw the remote down, turn off the TV and storm out, never to return? Or do you think, man ... annoying. But I'll sit here until my show's back on. (Sometimes, the ad can even be clever.)
I was interviewed on Radio National yesterday (HERE) - a few questions were about "selling out" on my blog. I answered as best as I could, with my standard, "You need to do it mindfully. Blog readers aren't idiots" line.
Blog readers aren't idiots. Hopefully, neither am I.