Blogging

Sponsored Posts or Integrity? What’s Bigger for You?

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Along with guest post inquiries, I’ve also recently received questions about sponsored posts. But one recent one took the cake.

Last week, I talked about posting my guest post policy after receiving inquiry after inquiry. This time around, I have to talk for a moment about sponsored posts.

To make a long story about guest posts short, I don’t accept solicitations for guest posts here. In fact, after more than 17 years, I’ve only published a handful of guest posts. All of those had one thing in common: I asked the writer to write the post for me. I went to people who I thought might have something interesting to say.

Not one of them approached me first.

Somehow, my contact information wound up on an email list. I still haven’t found out where. I’m sure I will eventually.

In the meantime, I can just refer people to the guest post policy.

I consider sponsored posts one step below unsolicited guest posts.

Think about it a second. Someone is telling you, “OK, you won’t let me write a guest post, I understand. What if I pay you to run a post I write for you?”

When you were a kid and you picked friends to play on your basketball team, do you ever remember one of your hopeful teammates offering to pay if you’d just pick them?

I don’t.

Unless you’re a big-name player with deep pockets, paying to get a guest post approved seems a little sleazy to me. If you are a big-name player with deep pockets, you probably have staff writers who can produce better content. But then you also have an ad budget where you can get your message out without relying on silly little blogs like mine.

Of course, I know the real reason. It’s all about search engine optimization or SEO. That’s what we call strategies that make sure your site ranks at the top of search results whenever possible.

One way to go about that is through getting a lot of sites that link to a specific site. Services that offer sponsored posts almost always include at least one link to a client’s site. The more of those posts they can place, the more links their client’s site receives. Those little links confuse Google into thinking the target site must really contain valuable information.

Even if it doesn’t.

It’s about playing the game. I understand that. I just don’t choose to link to a site I’ve never heard of.

A proposal I recently received was a bit different.

This query asked for “the best price” for “permanent article placement” that will fit the nature of my site. The article, the proposal said, would include one link to an insurance blog page.

But one of the bullet points listed said this: “Article not marked as sponsored.”

They wanted me to run a post on my blog for which I would charge. Yet I was not supposed to mark it as sponsored.

But since they’re paying to place it on my site, it is absolutely a sponsored post.

What does it say about someone who proposes a site owner intentionally hide the fact that a post is only there because someone paid for it to be placed?

Even worse, what does it say about a blogger who would accept those terms?

One of the key things bloggers are told to be is authentic. Can you be authentic and hide the fact that you’re running a post someone’s paying you to run? Can you be honest with your audience if you’re concealing the fact that a post is, actually, advertising?

Maybe other bloggers think so.

I’m not one of them.

So I’ll add unmarked sponsored posts to the list of things that won’t happen here.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.