PayPerPost: a sneakier kind of blog advertising
It turns out there are plenty of sites like Creamaid, which I wrote about the other day, out there. PayPerPost is one of the biggest, so I signed up to see what it’s like. And um, also because one of the featured “opportunities” was writing about World of Warcraft and you’d get $3 for a post on that, the front page said, and hey, I already write about World of Warcraft all the time. Like Creamaid, the deal is you write about requested topics and are paid from three to ten dollars for your post. Once you’re signed up you get access to all the “opportunities”. Currently there are about a hundred – but to my slight distress I couldn’t find the write-about-WoW “opportunity”. Others varied in their degree of detail. Some are very specific:
The post should describe about culture and how marriage affects culture. It should cover the topics., 1) Is Marriage Really needed? 2) Asians gives more value to marriage, For example in India, I see that Online matrimonial Portals are making a great income. For example, i came across, Bharatmatrimony.com, It seems to be the leader of online Matrimonial services. 3) They try several innovative ideas, like, launching of the First matrimonial toolbar, Also Provides RSS feeds., Even yahoo has shown an interest on them and has invested in them. (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/765)
Need 36-100 word articles on Whitetail Deer Hunting, naturally written articles incorporating the 3-5 key words linked to the URL as indicated below. Key words: Trophy deer hunting, Guided deer hunts, Archery hunting – link: “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com/strategies” Key words/phrases: Deer hunting guide, Hunting land, Whitetail deer hunting – link: “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com”Keywords: Deer hunting equipment, Hunting blinds, Spotting scopes, Rifle scopes – link: “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com/equipment” Key words: Deer antlers -link is “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com/whitetails”Keywords: Hunter – link: “http://www.TheDeer-HuntingGuide.com/the_harvest” Links related to subject. Min page rank-3. (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/828)
The only difference between this and comment spam is that they’re paying bloggers three dollars to do it and that humans, presumably, can make more “natural” and thus un-detectable-as-spam blog posts than machines.
The highest paying “opportunity” I saw was for PayPerPost itself (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/702). They’ll pay you $10 to post a link to a piece on them in TechCrunch. Not to the most recent critical piece, but to a slightly older piece about how they’ve just raised 3 million in venture capital. OK, so I just linked to that article they’re paying people $10 to link to. I thought about claiming the $10 – since (ahem) my research on blog trends would be furthered by seeing whether I actually received the $10 in my Paypal account. So I went to check out how to register a blog so I’d get the booty. Unfortunately, they actually review blogs before they’ll start accepting your for-pay posts. And I dunno – if I were PayPerPost I’m not sure I’d want pesky researchers writing skeptical things about my service. And ugh, now it feels “dirty” to link to that site even without being paid for it. (I put a “nofollow” thing in the link though so at least search engines won’t index it.) The critical TechCrunch story about PayPerPost compares their service to payola A real problem with these services is that they’re advertising concealed as content. Mainstream media long ago set clear boundaries between ads and content. Although clearly those boundaries are blurred quite often when journalists are given freebies and such, the principle remains. Services like Creamaid and PayPerPost require that the post be written in the blogger’s own voice, though. At least Creamaid makes it clear to the reader that this is part of a campaign – as far as I can tell, it’s invisible to the reader that a PayPerPost-sponsored post is in fact sponsored. Some of the “opportunities” specify that they require this invisibility, as in this one from a wedding website – and this is a high-paying one, they pay $8 for each post:
Minimum of PR3 w/ Google. Title needs to include keyword “wedding” or “weddings”. If title, or any part of your site says your reviews are “pay to post” it will not be accepted. Use extra hot links using keywords that lend itself to the topic. Ex: weddings, brides, groom, maid of honor, wedding dress, wedding gown, reception, honeymoon, wedding planning, wedding planner, etc. These links are over and beyond the required link. Must include a recommendation for brides to register at the forums the url link: http://www.weddingstrategies.com/forums/ Will not accept business opportunity blogs. (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/835)
Technorati shows only four blogs linking to this URL, but they’re all recent links, and while some link to PayPerPost (PPP) in other posts, none of them explicitly admit that their recommendation of the wedding site is paid for. The ones I looked at clearly had a lot of posts that were influenced by PayPerPost earnings. Lynn Terry writes ClickNews!, which is billed as an Internet Marketing blog, and she seems to have one of the most nuanced positive opinions of PayPerPost. She tried out blogging with PayPerPost for a month, wrote a list of the posts she’d written for pay (so disclosure after the fact – not before) and asked readers what they thought about it. A lot of the reactions she received were positive. Here’s another of her posts that gives a good round-up of a lot of discussion on PayPerPost. Lynn Terry isn’t worried about bad uses of PayPerPost, and I agree that she has a point – bloggers who sell their credibility will not have many readers:
While I understand that some bloggers might take the PPP opportunity a little far, and put anything and everything on their blog, those are not the types of bloggers that pull enough weight in the blogosphere to worry about anyway. Those of us who are passionate about our blogs, and love our readers, will pick and choose the opportunities that come through PPP and work it in with integrity.
This ignores the more automated aspects of the web though, such as the increased PageRank that links even from little-read blogs will lead to. Most of the “opportunities” I read about looked a lot like blog spam to me. Ultimately, I don’t want to think that blogs I read are biased because they’re being paid to write about something. If you’re being paid for a post, I’d like to know about it, and that way I’ll read it differently than if I think it’s your own, independent voice. That’s why I’d prefer to keep a line between ads and “editorial content” in blogs.