Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I Won't Run BlogHer Ads on My Site Any More.

So, today I received a nice letter from the folks at BlogHer Ads. It reads, in part:
Hi Vivien,

I was reading your site today and read that you received some products from Earthbound Farm -- how awesome!

Unfortunately, even though this fits within our guidelines of being less than $40, writers should not write post a review if the review is sponsored by a company. We are trying to land many advertising deals right now and these types of posts have the ability to hurt our sales team's efforts.

There are a couple of options of how to fix this, you can have a review page on your site or a separate review site and in both cases you can write a one-sentence teaser with a link to the full article on your main page.
See, I told you it was nice. I especially like the part that even though the (about $6 worth of snacks I received) were less than their guidelines for bloggers, they don't like that the review was "sponsored" by the company.

Hey, you've read my reviews. When I don't like something, I say so. I don't write positive reviews of items unless they make the grade for me. Nobody bought my opinion on Earthbound Farm's snacks. I tried them (because how can I review something I haven't tried?) and I reviewed them. Simple as that.

You know how BlogHer Ads knows that I received the snacks? That's right, because I told them so, right there in the review. I'm an ethical blogger who discloses that information in her posts.

I especially like how, although they are making revenue from placing ads on my site, they want me to create another site and link to it rather than reviewing items on my site. It's inconvenient for them.

So, Viv, you might be saying, you're earning a lot of money from them, then, right? So they have a right to say stuff like that.

Well, let's see...this month, looks like I earned a whopping total of a little over 2 dollars and a quarter from BlogHer Ads. Only I didn't, really, because if your revenue is under $25, they hold it until it gets above that level. In fact, I can't remember the last time I got a check from BlogHer Ads.

In case you don't know it by now, I don't make a profit on this site. On Cool Moms Rule!, when I review something, whenever possible I give it away on the site. Obviously, I couldn't do that with the carrots and apples I ate (eww, gross) so I do see BlogHer Ad's point--that's almost $6 worth of stuff!

In the interest of full disclosure, sometimes items are too big for me to pay shipping for a giveaway on the blog. When I can't afford even to run a giveaway (though I have eaten the costs before and done that, too, because I like my readers to have giveaways), I'll donate that to CITA, which is a local charity, or to a shelter here where a friend of mine volunteers--the Owl will be volunteering there this year, too.

If I somehow end up ahead after all that (but I haven't yet), I also pay for my domain name now, and business cards, and the occasional blogging conference.

Last year, for example, I went to BlogHer, and I paid for that myself. No sponsorship, no strings attached. The year before, I volunteered to work at BlogHer, and that just paid for the conference sessions--again, I paid for my own airfare and hotel.

This year, I didn't go to BlogHer at all. Not only couldn't I afford it (I did put up a donation button on my blog--and then I took it down, because in this economy, I just didn't even feel right asking you guys to buy me a cup of coffee, let alone help me go to BlogHer), but I was getting soured on, ironically enough, the material side of BlogHer. All the swag, all the sponsors, all the entitlement that some of these women seem to feel, like they should be bought and paid for.

NOT all of them, of course. There are some wonderful, committed bloggers out there (and you know who you are!) who just write quality posts and reviews and love doing it (like me, I hope. I mean, I hope you think I write quality posts!). If you want to read more about what I mean, Mommybloggers said it better than I could (Jen is linked in my sidebar and wrote a great post on this very subject, the way mommy bloggers are getting a bad rap from new greedy bloggers just wanting "stuff").

So, anyway, getting back to the whole BlogHer Ads thing, you might be wondering why I went ahead with BlogHer Ads, if my blog might run afoul of their site policies--and the answer is, I never re-upped to BlogHer Ads after they changed their ad policies and became more radical. I bought my own domain name (remember, we used to be owned by blogspot), and never sent in new paperwork, and I honestly forgot to take the ads off of my site, because as I said, I can't remember the last time I got a check from them.

So, really, BlogHer Ads did me a favor when they wrote me, because they reminded me to take down their ads, and speak with my own voice, and to hell with the hypocrisy of their policies.

Oh, I didn't get into that, did I? The hypocrisy part. BlogHer asked me to be a reviewer a while back, and on THAT blog, I can accept money for posts all I want--provided it comes from BlogHer. And then, I link to that blog from this one, and they're happy because there's that "one sentence link" thing going on. For some reason, this is more ethical? I'm closing that BlogHer Reviewer blog up, believe me. I only ever wrote one post, for something I would have reviewed well anyway, because that's the only way I'll write, but even one post was probably too many.

So yeah, I'm happy to be done with BlogHer and their ads.

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Cool Moms Rule! is in full compliance of the new FTC rules concerning Bloggers. I disclose on all posts where a product was received for free and/or if there was any kind of financial compensation involved.