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Do you write positive paid reviews on your blog?

Posted by on 25th Sep 2008 | 22 comments

I got an email today from Linkworth which told me that an advertiser would like me to review their website on my personal blog. It was only for $25 but it was probably worth doing since it only had to be 200 words or more and I could probably write the post in 15 minutes or so.

Before accepting I noticed that the advertiser had stipulated that the review had to be positive, something which I always tell advertisers I can’t guarantee when they enquire about a review. I had a quick look at the site in question, it was a basic photo rating site which offered prizes to those who participated. Whilst I wouldn’t give it a purely negative review, I certainly wouldn’t rave about it and I wasn’t keen on recommending it to my readers. Therefore I declined the review and told the advertiser (via the comments box) that I cannot guarantee reviews will be positive.

Because this was my first review request via Linkworth and because I always tell advertisers who contact me directly that I cannot gurantee reviews will be positive or favourable, this is the first time I have ever had to deal with this. No advertiser in the past has ever requested a review to be positive because I tell them up front I can’t gaurantee it so I’ve never had to decide ‘Yes or No’.

It didn’t take me long to come to this conclusion, if I get a positive review request in the future I will :

  • Accept it : If the website is good and I would recommend it to readers anyways.
  • Reject it : If the website is average or very poor and I would normally criticize the website.

Trust is something that takes a long time to build but a short time to lose however I don’t think that your integrity as an honest writer will be diminished if you would otherwise recommend the website to your readers anyways. Do you agree?

I’d love to hear what readers would do in this situation. Do you accept reviews for your blog even if you need to give them a positive spin?

:)


Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog and provides support to bloggers at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and Google+.

22 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Chetan on 25th Sep 2008

    I never accept advertisers who need everything positive about their website.

    The review should be honest and should not depend on being paid for it.

  • Posted by CT Moore on 25th Sep 2008

    I agree, reviews need be objective. It's fine if you only review sites/products that you have positive things to say about, but you can't just give positive reviews for the sake of it.

    After all, blogging is a powerful medium because of the trust it builds with readers. If you betray that trust, sooner or later you lose your readers and end up as not much of a blogger.

  • Posted by Copywriters Needed/N on 25th Sep 2008

    Please do not do it! First of all, where did you get this offer? Was it from a paid for post site like Bloggerwave? If so, then they defiantely cannot do this! You are not allowed. But if this is a personal offer, you have to decide what you think is moral. It also depends on how much you care about your blog. If you write a postive review and your loyal readers find out that this review is fake or that it is not true, you could end up losing readers!

  • Posted by WetcoastBob on 25th Sep 2008

    If you agree to a pre-determined review of a product you are prostituting yourself.

  • Posted by Tom - StandOutBlogge on 25th Sep 2008

    I think our readers deserve more from us then advertising to them. If it is a product or website you would recommend anyway then go ahead and right the positive review, but as you said 'Trust is so important'

  • Posted by Darrin on 25th Sep 2008

    You did the right thing and it only makes me that much happier to be here. These companies and sites have the Digg like mentality where if you pay someone enough you can get either a fake positive review or as on Digg, make it to the front page where your crappy site or company will get lot's of unearned traffic. That is why Digg is going downhill fast and has lost it's credibility to many readers. Soon there will be only crappy stories from garbage sites on Digg power trips. If you would of recommended to all of us to visit some crappy site saying it was amazing, you would of possibly lost some of our trust. You made a great choice and $25 isn't even close to being worth that possibility. Now if next time you get an offer for $2,500 to make a fake review just e-mail us all first and warn us about it please as nobody here will be mad at you for accepting that kind of money. Lol

  • Posted by Contract Cleaning De on 26th Sep 2008

    This is something almost of a moral issue, being told what to write in a review of a company is almost becoming a sell out, I understand that money makes the world go round but for $25 I certainly wouldn't write a raving review about them unless they were really that good. I think you certainly correct and I wouldn't guarantee a perfect review.

  • Posted by salwa on 26th Sep 2008

    You defanatly did the right thing Kevin. I have seen some blogs writing good reviews then later realises that this review is fake. It just annoys me so much and in most cases I end up not going to that particular blog anymore as it tells me the owner is just in it for money and nothing more.

    My simple rule is this – If you cant handle constructive criticism or even just plain criticism (if its true) then do not ask for a review. They're other way of advertising your business.

  • Posted by David Bradley on 26th Sep 2008

    I had someone contact me about publishing a paid guest post on another site of mine. They basically wanted to discuss their client's product and link back. After, some negotiation I was happy to do that. I received a nice cheque (well paypal payment) simply for posting their post, I included a disclaimer/declaration alerting readers to the fact that it wasn't a regular post, it was an advertorial. So, my journalistic ethics aren't compromised, the client got the "review" out there and the advertising they needed. Everyone's happy, including the readers. Advertorial content is ubiquitous in the world of offline journalism and growing in new media.

  • Posted by Kevin Muldoon on 26th Sep 2008

    Thanks for all the comments guys. It's good to see that most bloggers take the same stance as me :)

    Copywriters – Did you read the post :) I didn't take the review and the review came via linkworth.

    David – Yeah advertorial content is definitely becoming more popular. I haven't used it as yet however I can't say I never would. You did the right thing by telling your readers about it. You have to stress that it is an advertisement and doesn't necessary represent your views on the product. Though it could be argued that by posting the advertorial you are, on some level, endorsing it.

  • Posted by David Bradley on 26th Sep 2008

    Newspapers and magazines have, as you know, been publishing standalone advertorials for years and years. I don't think anyone reading them is fooled into believing they are any more an endorsement than a more conventional format ad, or is that just my cynical mind?

  • Posted by Missy on 26th Sep 2008

    "So, my journalistic ethics aren’t compromised, the client got the “review” out there and the advertising they needed". to quote – David Bradley

    Since when did bloggers become journalists? And since when is new media like old media? We aren't journalists. Well, maybe you are David, i don't know you, so maybe YOU are. But most bloggers aren't journalists.

    Yes, there is a BIG difference between writing a review that is totally irrelevant to one's main blog topic area. Or perhaps a review on something that you personally don't believe in, agree with, like, condone, etc.

    But let's not all deny the fact, that we blog for money. C'mon pick up any magazine, look at any TV show, what will you see? That's right commercials and ads. Commerce is part of our lives. It is how we feed ourselves, our kids, etc.

    Yes, there is a right way and an offensive way to make money online via our blogs. But let's all fess up here.

    KEVIN: By your own admission above, you did not take the $25 review, because you felt the site was "average and/ or very poor". This is perfectly within your right.

    Most of us (bloggers) tend to treat our blogs with lots of TLC. And many times we need to take out readership in mind, and reject certain offers and/ or requests we receive. Yes.

    But to those above who said they WILL or WOULD NEVER take a review, and that it is akin to pimping, prostituting, etc, you most likely have ads on the sidebar or elsewhere on your blog or site. What is the difference? There is no difference. We need to survive by selling, plain and simple.

    Thing is people sell different things. Maybe i sell reviews, maybe i sell a service, maybe i sell my sidebar, etc.

    What do you sell?

  • Posted by David Bradley on 26th Sep 2008

    Missy, I'm not quite sure whether I'm now in your good books or your bad books after that ;-) For the record, I am a journalist, but I am also a blogger. I've got no qualms about making money from either, and thankfully do :wink: (so far), but I wouldn't publish advertorial content without labeling it as such in some way, that way my readers know where they stand. But, as to all bloggers blogging for money. No. They don't. I know plenty of bloggers who do it for the sake of it, have no ads, not even adsense, write niche blogs anonymously, have decent readership nevertheless, but are most certainly not in it to make a direct financial profit.

  • Posted by Missy on 26th Sep 2008

    David: I don't know you, so why would you be on my bad books. Not at all. But you did not answer my question. What do you sell?

    I also know many bloggers who do not DIRECTLY make money from their blogs, but do so indirectly. No difference to me.

    We may take different roads, but the destination is the same. Yes.

  • Posted by David Bradley on 26th Sep 2008

    LOL That's a relief.

    I sell my services is a science writer.

  • Posted by problogineer on 28th Sep 2008

    And how much you get for a review on bloggingtips :twisted: :lol:

    Yes, dont accept only positive.

  • Posted by learn aikido on 29th Sep 2008

    This is something i've not heard of before but I would have to rview the site and make my own decision. Never been any good at being told what to think / write

    Regards

    Pad

  • Posted by Christine on 20th Oct 2008

    I feel the same way about advertising. If the product is something I would recommend and review anyway, and is in the context of the blog, I'll do it. If I'm asked to recommend something less than stellar, I will say no.

  • Posted by Rodney on 28th Oct 2008

    1) You can't spell "guarantee."

    2) I hope that when you sell your "services is a science writer" that you have an editor reading behind you…

    I don't mean to be a pain, but anyone who claims to make a living as any kind of writer should be embarrassed… :oops:

  • Posted by Arch Pedant on 28th Oct 2008

    Such encouraging words Rodney. I believe most writers do have an editor to catch the odd typo. It's not like posting a quick comment on a blog is the same as contributing to a major tome though is it? I think displaying one's personal pedantry in such as crude manner is actually more of an embarrassment than making a simple typing error.

  • Posted by Itsme on 8th Nov 2008

    I can't believe how much rationalization is going on here!

    First, to have any integrity, you should reject the review requests that request only a positive review. You shouldn't even look at the site.

    Secondly, when you sell your "advertorial" you are really just gaming google. G has cracked down on the worst abuses and will crack down on lesser abuses in the future. As a search engine user, I resent the waste of my time that the gaming of google causes.

    You can rationalize this process any way you want, but ultimately your paid reviews end up being funded by wasting the time of the honest search engine user.

  • Posted by mkc on 10th Nov 2008

    Hey, guys, that word is spelled d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y .

    I often have to spell check it myself.