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Monetizing a blog- Scams, scratches and bumps to avoid
While looking for options for my own blog, I was reading a list of blog monetizing options including get paid to blog, blog advertising, whys and wherefores. I checked out a few of the suggested sites and of course there were the inevitable scam reports. A bit of analysis, however, showed a few glaringly obvious patterns for bloggers.
These were the usual paid rate blogs on sites, services, products, etc.
The usual complaints were:
· Didn’t get paid.
· Service was appalling.
· Blog not accepted for various reasons
· Disputes with the blog service provider.
· Rates of pay.
· Not enough offers.
Following up on a search of “brand + scam” on these sites, I discovered about a 50-50 mix of problems:
· Didn’t get paid- This usually meant that either the service opted out of paying the blogger on some excuse, or the blogger didn’t read/didn’t understand the terms of the service.
· Service was appalling- The feedback and responses from the service provider were extremely slow. This means ultra-inefficient, and when you’re working for yourself that’s a big no-no. Money moves slowly, communications are constipated and the general level of satisfaction and therefore motivation vanishes.
· Blog not accepted for various reasons- Some of these seemed to be legitimate reasons, but at least one was a downright lie. One blogger got in touch with the advertiser, who not only denied the story but hired the blogger to write a press release.
· Disputes with the blog service provider- The providers supposedly handle payment and manage the distribution of materials to advertisers. If they don’t do these things properly, they get evasive, and that’s not a good sign. The type of dispute is a good indicator of how they operate. Legitimate disputes all have one thing in common- They’re based on hard facts. Theory as an excuse is more than a bit dubious.
· Rates of pay- This was a strange one. Some people were quite happy with their blogging payments. Others were anything but. These rates vary a lot, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you know exactly what’s payable before you write a word. Some obviously didn’t get the idea of cost of a link, even on the most basic, well laid-out rates. Check and ask if you don’t understand information of this sort. Do not assume anything. Make sure you’ve got your facts straight.
· Not enough offers- Many blogs are based on niches in markets. You may or may not be a great option for advertisers. If you’re a gardening blog, you’re not exactly a core demographic for an auto maker. The fact is that many blogs don’t match the client base for these paid to blog deals.
Bumps and scratches
The net result of these disputes and crack-ups was that a lot of bloggers were very disappointed. Frustration is a natural part of media work, but masochism isn’t a great career move. Time and effort were misspent. It is quite normal to find gigs that just can’t work, even if everything runs smoothly.
· Be realistic- You may find the actual work annoying, the people picky or the content uninspiring. If you don’t like the environment, get out of it!
· Be prepared to do the hard slog- Things don’t just “happen”. To build a working portfolio of blogging gigs, you do have to pay your dues and do the basic work. As you progress, your blogging will go upscale.
· Don’t waste time in futile fights over small things- Unless you really want to fight something on principle, and believe yourself right, you’ll find that these useless catfights can use up a lot of your time and add a lot of stress. Always remember you could be using your time more productively.
I’m not going to single out any particular paid blogging service, because all of them had various issues with bloggers which were a mix of both parties simply getting things wrong and sometimes horribly wrong. What I saw was a pattern of completely avoidable situations for both the bloggers and the services.
The blog services should recognize that to attract quality writers, they do need a good reputation. The days of ad hoc blogging are well and truly over. Most successful blogs are done by pros these days. The blog services can build a good asset base by doing things properly. Good gigs and good money attract good writers. If they want cashflow, they must be seen to be a good proposition.
The other side of the equation is that a bad reputation is now a serious problem for anyone employing writers. People like me will routinely attack services that routinely rip off writers, and so will most other professionals. We can get instant global coverage, too.
One real problem can get covered thousands of times, and it’s a lousy look for these services. The bad news is that dysfunctional advertising and promotion throws a real spanner into online business. It’s an obstruction. It’s in everyone’s interest to make sure these blogging options work, and work well.
For bloggers, the issues are more basic-
Diving in to any paid writing gig requires knowledge. Don’t just blunder in to any writing gig, check it out thoroughly. Check for issues before you sign up to anything. Does the service have a track record of non-payment? Does it have some credible supports from independent sources? What were the issues for the people complaining about the service? Were they right or wrong?
Be optimistic and idealistic later, get the information you need to make an informed decision now and ask any questions you need to ask.
This type of writing is going to become a core feature of commercial writing, when the bugs are ironed out. My reservation is that all the problems I saw could easily have been cleared up.
Just stay focused on the bottom line. If it pays and delivers, good. If not, consider your options and make sure you’re not wasting your time and effort.
One thing you can do when you start- Try a test case. If the service does what it’s supposed to do, you can commit time to it.