Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blogola and Me

There are two questions about blogging that I am sometimes asked, and I have never found a satisfactory answer for; "What is your blog about?", and "When are you going to start making some money at this?". A blank stare is my usual answer. I'm 54 years old and no single subject has ever held my interest from one day to the next, nor have I ever made much money at anything. Why should my blog be any different?

What brought this up was an article in the recent Forbes Magazine marketing section entitled "Blogola". It seems there's a guy named Ted Murphy, whose business is paying bloggers, up to $3,000, to write nice things about various corporations. Recently, several bloggers earned a $500 credit from K-Mart for their posts. Was it the WW II era linoleum floor that they so admired? Was it the screaming kids, drowning out the mind-numbing Muzak that turned their heads? Was it the creatively arranged fertilizer display in the gardening section that caught their eye? Sadly, I'll never know. The article didn't say.

I do know one thing though. If I ever start a sentence with, "I had the most wonderful shopping experience...", then one of three things has happened. In descending probability they are:

1) I have completely lost my mind.
2) I'm being held hostage by corporate terrorists and forced to write blog posts against my will.
3) I really, really, really needed some new bath towels.

On some level, this is a serious subject. After all, the Federal Trade Commission is keeping an eye on Mr. Murphy and his ilk. There are some truth in advertising rules that could use a little tightening. There are people whose livelihood depend on a bold line between journalism and advertising. As for me, I'm content to meander along, like a lazy flowing river, curious to see what's around the next bend. Who knows, maybe I'll find a purpose for my blog there, or maybe even a way to make some real money without selling my soul to the Devil.

6 comments:

Ryan Jerz said...

"As for me, I'm content to meander along, like a lazy flowing river, curious to see what's around the next bend. Who knows, maybe I'll find a purpose for my blog there, or maybe even a way to make some real money without selling my soul to the Devil."

Me too.

Local So-and-so said...

Keep those Dodger posts comin', brother.

carri said...

We at IZEA were obviously unhappy with the direction the Forbes article took. Please note that there were several falsehoods in this article as well as some misleading innuendos. There was so little actual fact in the article that they even identified the company as Izea Entertainment which it is not now nor has it ever been.

That being said, we completely respect that some people are legitimately uncomfortable with what we do. I am not here to convert anyone, but I would like to clarify a few points.

First, the Kmart campaign gave bloggers a $500 gift card to shop at KMart and blog about their experiences. They were also given another $500 card to give away on their sites.

Each post contained disclosure that they had been compensated and neither we nor KMart required the feedback be all positive-and it was not. In fact, I seem to remember a few remarking on the outdated decor, store cleanliness and lack of stylish clothing.

Second, all IZEA properties mandate disclosure for any sponsored post, tweet, link or ad. If you expect us to pay you, you have to make it clear you are being paid.

In fact, the matter of being paid for content is not the issue the FTC has. They are looking to make sure that compensation in exchange for content, be it cash, trips, dinners or free products or samples, are disclosed as such.

In this IZEA supports and is working with the FTC in their quest to mandate universal disclosure.

What we do is not for everyone and that's fine. However, I do hope that people will not judge us solely by this one source.

Perhaps, you may even want to take a look at the article the New York Times wrote for a more balanced look at what we do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/technology/internet/13blog.html?_r=4&ref=business

All the Best,
Carri Bright
Communications Lead
IZEA

Local So-and-so said...

Hi Carrie. Welcome to my little corner of the universe, and congratulations on your ability to find it. It’s not easily done, I know. You may note that I never identified your company by name in my post. Frankly, the name of the parent company of Mr. Murphy’s various enterprises was a bit confusing. I take issue with your characterization of the Forbes article as having “falsehoods”.

You call the compensation a gift card, whereas Forbes calls it a credit. I call that a distinction without a difference. In either case the bloggers received $500 to spend at K-Mart. I can’t speak to what any of the bloggers wrote as neither you, Forbes, or the New York Times list any links.

As for disclosure, having spent some time in the TV biz, I know that a mother, an actress, and a professional marketer, may in fact be the same person. An actress identifying herself as a mother, although technically true, is what the Catholics would call a “sin of omission”. It is also the oldest sales gimmick in the book. Likewise, a salesperson who has a blog is, in itself, a bit deceptive unless they are clearly identified as a salesperson.

I’m glad to hear your company is co-operating with the FTC. I wish you success. In the meantime, I’ll stick with Forbes. Regards

The Anon Guy said...

I think IZEA did this just before Christmas.

Here's what one blogger did for his post. He's upfront about the project and the compensation.

What Would You Spend $500 At Kmart On?

Marion said...

I'm a bit behind in my blog reading but I love this post. I'm with Ryan and you. I blog for the fun of it and I could never answer the question - What do you blog about?
I'm going to quote you in my blog "As for me, I'm content to meander along, like a lazy flowing river, curious to see what's around the next bend. Who knows, maybe I'll find a purpose for my blog there,"

Well said!!