This evening I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting conversation about blogging and money, specifically getting paid for blogging, whether that’s via ads, giveaways, or particular posts. The discussion was fueled by the LA Times article, “Blogging moms wooed by food firms”. Major companies, most recently Nestle, are paying big bucks (and other perks like steaks, fancy hotels, etc.) to prominent “mommy bloggers” in exchange for favorable articles about their products.
But what is ethical?
This is so murky that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has even gotten involved, creating stringent yet vague rules for blogger disclosure, which go in effect Dec. 1st.
So tonight the Twitter conversation #blogmoney started off about ethics, but became more. We talked a lot about bloggers disclosing their business practices to each other. In American culture talking about how much we make is taboo, but should it be the same in the blogging “business?” This is something I’ve experienced first hand. Taking my blog public has been an interesting process, and I sometimes feel like I’m trying to beg my way into a secret sorority. How do increase readership? How could I go about convincing a company to sponsor a giveaway? As I’ve tried to ask these questions I haven’t heard a response. I assumed that there was a fear of competition, or maybe I was just being incredibly rude.
The interesting point made this evening was that maybe by NOT talking about these issues we’re actually shooting ourselves in the foot. Companies might balk at paying reasonable rates if they know other clueless bloggers will pay much less than their time, their writing, and their readership is worth. If veteran bloggers, one woman suggested, took new bloggers under their wing to discuss these issues, new bloggers might be able to get a better estimation of their worth. Some women got very upset that anyone would ask even how much they make from their blog, let alone tips of the trade. In my opinion, that misses the point. I don’t care who makes what, but it would be great to compile a general range of “going rates” for bloggers to draw from. When a few bloggers underestimate their worth, it affects everyone.
We also discussed the legal implications of the new FTC guidelines (and how little any of us understand them), how we operate our individual sites, how we got started writing, and which domains/servers we use. Ms. Single Mama created a poll about Mommy Blogger Earnings as well.
To summarize a tweet from Faten aka ConnectingWomen (because direct Twitter quotes often don’t make sense) “This conversation is a milestone because critical thinking has been awakened in all bloggers: newbies, middle, and veterans.” I would agree: tonight we were able to get a great conversation going, I met some really interesting women, and I hope these conversations will continue.
What do you think? Should talking about “blogging money” be done more? Is this another facet of the Feminist revolution? Is it ethical to take money for reviews or giveaways on your blog? Please leave a comment!