Technology news

I need a break from some particularly heavy editing I’m doing right now so I thought I’d cover two media/marketing topics that fell into my lap this afternoon.

First out of the gate was a resumption of the pay-per-post debate. Back in July, a company called, suitably enough, Pay-Per-Post started offering bloggers cash for posting on a variety of topics – the money coming from the companies who needed some love.

Back then I was a little skeptical – the line between editorial and advertising is, after all a sacred one, no matter how some editors cut it. But for someone looking for a second income stream that’s 100 per cent legal, why not. In my mind, as long as it’s fully disclosed there’s no harm, no foul.

I even thought about starting a second blog that was dedicated to earning some money to pay for some optional extras that a mid-level PR can’t really afford. Like a laptop. Or a diamond ring. Whatever.

Then I forgot about it and started my new job – which is still just as shiny as any diamond ring. Until today.

I read (somewhere…) that PPP had raised some $3m in Series A funding from a group of VCs and that there was a TalkCrunch interview on the subject. So I had a listen and thought about it some more.

Now I really don’t think there’s a big deal. PPP isn’t killing blogging, it’s acting as the Lloyd’s of London of the blogging world. Instead of broking insurance, they’re brokering links. I’m not sure how much each link is worth to a start-up tech company, but it’s probably a fair bit – the TechCrunch dude said some $300 – and considerably more than its worth to a blogger.

I link to people and things all the time and don’t give it a second thought. Now you’re telling me that each time I press “ctrl-k” I’m essentially donating $300 to someone?

So, I went to PPP and had a mozy around. As I thought, they’re taking advantage of the huge differential between what the link is worth to the blogger (nothing) and what its worth to the “client”. If I’m not getting anything for this post, and someone says “Hey buddy, fancy $15 for 5 mins work?” I’ll probably say yes. If PPP charges their client $150 and it’s worth $300 to the client, and everything is properly and fully disclosed, who losses out?

If I followed Dave onto Living Dot and my own domain, I’d be paying $20 a month for the privilege of blogging. If I decided to add in adwords to the new site, I may make enough for a cup of hot chocolate each month. Or I could do this.

As long as it’s properly disclosed. Now, if I went to Blogger and started a new blog and posted one of these PPP posts each day for $15 a day, I’d be making an additional $100 a week. $5k a year. For a few minutes work a day. Enough for a laptop and a new TV or a dullish diamond.

However, it does seem as if PPP is concerned that the bloggers get identified as spam blogs by the search engines which is why they are a) asking for final approval of all text to ensure there isn’t more than one link per 100 words (the magic number) and b) not making a big deal over people disclosing.

The second thing is that my podcasting client is moving jobs. Mark Evans, for whom Dave, Neil and I do some pro bono work for, has accepted a job as VP of Operations at b5media, the day they announced they had raised $2m in VC cash.

Congratulations! I don’t understand why more journalists don’t have their own personal blogs? Clearly it gives you more career options – how many “old” media guys have become “new” media stars? Tom, Om and Michael are just three that this newbie blogger can think of off the top.

Just one question – should he now go back and disclose the posts he wrote on b5media earlier this year?!

And a bonus conversation. Michael Seaton has finally got around to launching a podcast, even if it’s not the one he’s been teasing the Toronto blogging community about. The Money Clip is Scotiabank’s new personal finance podcast and, as one of my colleagues here at Fleishman-Hillard said, “when people who’ve been on The Street for 50 years sign off on something like this, you know it’s going to be big”.

A worthy addition to the personal finance section of my blogroll go check it out or subscribe via iTunes.

4 Responses to Technology news

  1. Just as a note, anything Mark wrote about b5 before his hiring was well before we were in *any* conversations with him. The truth is that Mark’s offer and hiring happened very quickly – though you will note that during the last 4-6 weeks he hasn’t written anything about us because we were chatting.

    Mark is totally above board and is the consummate professional, and hasn’t in any way written about us without disclosing a relationship (or potential relationship).

    Hope that helps🙂

  2. Tom Foremski says:

    Ed, I think it is bad for bloggers to write about a company for the money. I am inundated with offers to write about the clients of PR companies. I don’t get paid but the PR companies get paid a lot. I write because I want to, because I find a company interesting. That should be the only criteria.

    Startups should understand that paying for links is bad practice. If they want attention they should get out and about and evangelize. If they have something, they will get the coverage, they will get the links.

    Every startup should be visible in their communities, and they should know where their potential customers live. If they are not known then they won’t succeed.

  3. David Jones says:

    I’d have to agree with Tom on all points. Putting ads on your site is one thing. Blurring the editorial lines is another. I have no problem with being pitched to put something on my blog, but it better be of interest to me and the folks who read it. I’m sure you’d feel odd if you pitched a reporter/blogger tomorrow and the guy came back with a price tag. If we pitch a guy like Tom, we all know he’ll either write about or not based on how newsworthy it is at that given moment in time. No relationship, past successes or offer of payola will change that.

    While I get Jeremy’s point, I think you’ve got something there in relation to Mark’s previous posts about b5. After all, the blogosphere is indexed and searchable…it isn’t exactly linear. While Mark would have written posts about b5 in the past that are completely unbiased, if we search for b5 and come up with an entry on Mark’s blog from, say, 6 months ago, could there be any confusion about whether it was biased or not. Even then, there is no techical (only moral and ethical) that Mark couldn’t go back and make changes to those past entries to make them more glowing. Of course, we all know he wouldn’t, but it is possible. Perhaps it’s a lot to ask, but it would be an effort in “full disclosure” to flag all previous blog entries about b5 with some sort of statement. It’s worth discussing further.

  4. Dan... says:

    Nice post Ed. I think you captured the marketplace idea quite well, including the fact that the blogger remains in control — only writing about what they want, in the tone they want, for the audience they know best.

    If you try the service, let us know how it goes. Those who have tried it appear to like it and those that don’t like it don’t appear to have tried it. It’s hard to say if current champions were predisposed so your balanced review after use could be an interesting addition to the discussion.

    Keep up the great blogging!

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