This Blog for Hire
$5 to $10 per Post
On the PayPerPost site, advertisers place "opportunities" listing what they want to promote and what they'll pay. Bloggers typically receive $5 to $10 per post, as long as the write-up meets the advertiser's requirements, which often include a positive spin.
"People can say bad things about a product all day long," says PayPerPost chief executive officer Ted Murphy. "But why the heck should an advertiser pay them to do it?"
Bloggers aren't required to disclose their relationship with PayPerPost, but the site encourages them to do so. In October, PayPerPost started DisclosurePolicy.org, a tool for creating disclosure forms. (A random sample of two dozen PayPerPost sites found half with disclosure policies, many vague and hard to find.)
Last November, search-engine-optimization company Text Link Ads introduced ReviewMe. With this service, advertisers can pick the blogs they want products to appear in, and pay accordingly--from $30 for low-traffic blogs to $250 for A-list sites. ReviewMe splits the fee with bloggers, who are free to write anything provided it's at least 200 words long, includes the appropriate link, and discloses that they've been paid to write it.
By requiring disclosure without dictating tone, ReviewMe hopes to gain credibility and avoid the controversy surrounding PayPerPost, says company president Andy Hagans. As of this writing, more than 3700 blogs have signed up.
"I think they're doing things right, at least so far," says David Ponce, the editor of OhGizmo.com, who had written two paid posts for Review-Me at press time. He adds, "My only gripe is that no matter how squeaky-clean things are, it's almost impossible to erase this feeling that something shady is afoot."
PayPerPost critics such as TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington have called the services a "virus," likening them to the payola scandals that rocked radio in the 1950s.
As we went to press, the Federal Trade Commission issued a staff opinion stating that companies engaged in word-of-mouth marketing must disclose the relationships or risk violation of the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive marketing or advertising. It's unclear how this policy applies to bloggers.
Questions about credibility and disclosure, however, may ultimately be irrelevant. The most tangible benefit of paid blogging for its sponsors may be the practice's ability to boost a Web site's ranking in Google search results, which depend in part on the number of links a site receives.
Bloggers, however, probably won't grow rich from their efforts. So far DesGroseilliers has pocketed just over $2100, making him one of PayPerPost's top earners. But he says that it isn't just about the money. "I'm helping decent advertisers get their name out there while helping cost-conscious consumers find beneficial products and services," he says.