How about $10K for your soul? Higher? Lower?
Does that soul come with batteries? Extra warranty? Truth is, your soul isn’t as valuable to me as it is to you. Are you sure you want to part with it?
Writing a blog isn’t like selling your soul. Or is it?
Sometimes it feels that way. Sometimes us bloggers take it way too seriously. Especially when it comes to the decision to monetise our blogs. Does it make us brandwhores or savvy entrepreneurs? Is it a legitimate business exchange or the ultimate sell out?
This subject gets a lot of airplay in our little Australian blogging community. Bloggers and brands are still navigating their relationships. I’ve listened with interest, usually eavesdropping on the edge. Sometimes I’ve voiced my opinions – usually in a sly devil’s advocate fashion, masking how torn I actually feel. I’ve weighed up my values and goals against some persuasive arguments on both sides. And I’m still open to more enlightenment.
I have never done a sponsored post on my blog. By choice.
A couple of weeks ago I won a competition through another blog. I entered it because I was enticed by the fantasy of a weekend away with my family. I never thought I’d win it. But I did. And it was exciting. But I also took a big gulp. There was a slight catch. The competition was sponsored by a car company. In return for a weekend of luxury accommodation, I was required to test drive a new car and provide a review of the experience on my blog.
Would this mean taking the plunge into sponsorship? Was I compromising my personal ethics for the lure of a weekend away?
So why am I so afraid of sponsorship creeping into my blog?
Well, because my blog is so damn personal. And I’m incredibly protective of its content. It’s my creative space. And it’s my authentic space. You get my words with the guarantee that no-one is paying me to say them. Maybe it’s not a big deal to other bloggers, but freedom and integrity are precious to me. I’m an idealist. Heaven help me, I’m a stubborn old artsy fartsy bleeding-heart idealist.
So let’s say I need to lighten up. (Yes I do!). Let’s say, it’s a simple exchange. If my hobby was flower arranging and someone offered me money for it, I’d say “Sure dude, where’s your cheque book?”. But here’s where I find it gets tricky: Flower arranging doesn’t involve using your power or voice. Blogging is an influential device. With any power comes responsibility.
I found this link about ad-free blogging exceptionally compelling. It argues that there is a price. And that we all pay. It talks about the over-saturation of ads in our society. It talks about drawing the line on the extent to which corporations influence all aspects of our lives. It talks about whether we can guarantee that our blogging voice is totally free of this influence.
And just because I struggle with this subject doesn’t mean I judge anyone else for monetising their blogs. I do believe it’s a legitimate way of earning money, and I suspect a very enjoyable way to do it too. I also believe that not all bloggers are trying to achieve the same thing. And thank goodness for that! We all have different goals.
Can I confess something though? Reading sponsored posts on other people’s blogs doesn’t turn me on. But that’s because I’m usually reading posts for the same reason I write them: for creative stimulation and emotional authenticity. It’s very rare to find a sponsored post that can deliver on both those things. And damn it, when I read posts I want to be turned on. I want to burn! Every single time.
So did I test drive that car? Did I take that weekend away?
Yes I did. It was this weekend. And the next post I write terrifies me.
I promise you this: You will get the real me. And creativity? I’ll be brutal with it.