Should I Write Sponsored Posts?

I’ve had quite a few offers lately from people who would like to sponsor articles on this blog. The basic understanding being, they pay me to write about a particular topic, or include a link to their product. It’s not an unusual situation in web publishing, but I know a lot of people have strong opinions on the ethics of this practice.

I’m not a big fan of blogs that post a “Message from our Sponsor” every week, with a blatantly promotional article full of links back to the sponsor’s website. I see this as a kind of intrusive advertising, that only takes readers’ time and offers nothing in return.

However, I do see benefits in writing a sponsored post which is of genuine interest to the blog’s target audience – in this case, Android developers. For example, say a mobile advertising company such as AdMob were to contact me, and offer to pay me in exchange for writing an article about their company. Obviously the company itself is of interest to this blog’s readers. In this situation, I think it would be appropriate to write the article, and accept payment for the time I spent researching and writing the post.

However – I don’t believe in “guaranteeing” a positive post in exchange for payment. If I can endorse a product in good faith, then I’m happy to accept payment to write about this product. In the post, I would simply write my own thoughts, both the good and the bad. But if I can’t endorse that product in good faith, I couldn’t write something positive about it, just because I was paid to do so. Besides the ethical issues, it would simply be difficult to write a good quality article if I’m making up half the stuff on the spot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Basically, I could only ever accept payment for writing an honest article. Not simply re-posting some marketing jargon from an advertising agency.

Those are my views on the matter. But having said that, I’ve decided to ask you readers – do you think I should write sponsored posts? Since you’re the people who will be reading these articles, what are your thoughts? Are you happy to read good quality sponsored articles? (Of course, any sponsored articles would be fully disclosed as such.)

Or would you prefer that I keep completely independent and write only about what interests me directly?

Please leave a comment or shoot me an email with your thoughts.

  • Psinnott

    What would the going rate for such an article would be?

    • It would depend on the advertiser, the length of the article, and several other factors. I couldn’t really say an exact price that would normally be offered. But it would have to be worth the time spent writing.

  • I personally would like to see you earn a bit of extra dollar for your time. If an article attracts my attention I will give it a read, otherwise it doesn’t take long to realise it isn’t of interest and skip it. 

  • I’ve thought about this from the other perspective. If I was pushing a product that I wanted a blog to review. I would offer the money in two parts:

    1.) Half to actually review the product and write a post about the product (both positive and negative). Post is not made public yet though, and is emailed back to advertiser.

    2.) Advertiser can say yes or no to posting the post publicly, but cannot edit.

    3.) Half when post is actually posted publicly.

    From my perspective, the blogger provides two important roles. One as a paid critic/reviewer, the other as advertisement. I would want any such post to be as honest as possible, as any over advertising/false endorsement is caught fairly quickly and will just backfire.

    • Great points there! That’s a good balanced solution to align the honesty and promotional agendas. I haven’t encountered any advertisers who offer this kind of an arrangement straight out, but it would be well worth discussing.

      • Pablo

        From reading all the comments I see that the main idea is “go for the money”. Not bad, but you are really in front of an ethical dilemma, good for you 🙂

        I believe that 50-50 option, as posted by FacingObstacles is fair only if you can call the first “installment” a sufficient pay for researching the product and writing the article. Only in that way you will know that you are not working “to get the other 50%”.

        Otherwise, it will be you against your own psyche, as you will know that writing in more positive tone could translate into money.

        Adding “This research/post was sponsored by so-and-so” is also fair. You can ask yourself what do you think when you see that in other people’s posts.

        Nothing wrong with making money, but while you cannot count it in your wallet , a reputation is worth more.

        Kudos on pondering on this.

        Pablo

  • Your blogs all about making money from Android. You should look at this as another revenue stream and be honest about it and report back on it and reader acceptance. 

    • I agree – if you were to also include the revenues in your monthly reports, then I would find it an interesting addition to the blog.

      • Armands

        Go for it!

        The note that this article is supported by XXX under the article with small letters would be appreciated! 🙂

  • Bojan

    Yes, I’d like to read these articles, well written article that includes both positive and negative sides of the service / product is always welcome. If the author of the article remains an objective, then I see no problem in that the article was ordered.

  • Drew Nusser

    As long as you only endorse products you actually believe in, I say go for it.  I think you have pretty good taste.

  • Go for it! as everyone else said, the whole point of this blog is making money :). I completely support it!

  • It’s an interesting idea, but the person has to agree to the term that it’s your personal opinion and that it could be either positive or negative. I support it as it’s a good source of income.

  • Jain1927

    Gud one

  • jean malis

    My salute for your job well done! Keep working the way you believe
    no man can turn down an ethical man. keep it up!

  • Casper

    Hi David,

    I’ve found your blog today and I have to say you’re an inspiration already. At least, you are inspiring me.

    Personally i’ve given this subject alot of thought over the years. And my opinion is simple. If you were to be contacted by a company interested in your audience attention I would follow one simple rule.

    Try out their product/service, and only if it pleases you enough to acctually make you want to share it with, to recommend it to people, then you could write an article about it.

    In fact, you should only accept the offer of writing a sponsered article if you like it so much, you also would write it if you wouldn’t get paid for it.

    In that case I also don’t see the need to mark the article as “sponsered” because it is genuinly good content.

    I hope this helps.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for the advice Casper, and glad you like the blog. Sounds like most people would be happy to read sponsored posts, if they’re relevant. I’ll probably be using the process you suggested – only writing about stuff which really interests me. It’s probably a pretty good indication that it could be of interest to the readers as well!

  • Info

    EXICILENT THOUGHT THERE, I THINK YOU SHOULD ADVERTISE FOR THOSE COMPANY AND GET PAID. THIS IS BENEFICIAL FOR YOU AND US THE READERS BECAUSE WE THE READERS LIKE TO READ MORE DEVELOPMENT BLOGS ON MOBILE PHONES

  • info

    you have done a great work ………. its really working and important for us. so please keep sharing ….
    Branding and Advertising