Have You Seen This Bogus Blog-For-Pay Offer?

Carol Tice

Freelance Writers: Have You Seen This Bogus Blog-For-Pay Offer? Makealivingwriting.comIt’s always flattering when your blogging work attracts prospective clients who’d like to pay you to blog. But I’ve discovered not all paid-blogging offers are what they seem.

Here’s the tale of one disturbing little encounter I had recently, which shows it pays to keep your wits about you when people offer to pay you to blog:

I got an email from a guy — let’s call him Darius — out of the blue, from a site I’d never heard of, which aggregates a lot of different content links. Let’s call it His-Top-Blogs.com. He’d seen my blogging work for one of my bigger clients, and was interested in hiring me. The exchange went like this. Darius first wrote me:

“I’d like to write articles on His-Top-Blogs and then submit them to your networks, or if that’s not possible, include a link to His-Top-Blogs in your articles. Not sure how much that is, because I have never done it before. What is your rate?”

I responded that I didn’t have any situation where I would want to republish content from his site on my own or any of my client’s sites. And that I get at least $100 a post to write for clients. I got this response:

I can pay you $100 an article, as long as you include at least one link to His-Top-Blogs. The question is where would you submit the articles? Can you add it to [theย  blog of the major magazine you write for]?

Well, now. This is what we call a double-pay opportunity. In case that was opaque, Darius was proposing I write for pay for my usual clients…and then he would also pay me another $100 a post for each entry! All I had to do was oh, just casually drop a mention of — and most importantly, a link to — his website into each and every story I write.

In other words, he was asking me to be a sellout. A secret, paid shill for his site. A stealth backlinker.

Darius was hoping that without disclosing the fact that he’d hired me, I’d start creating backlinks for him on high-profile sites where I blog.

Instead of writing posts based on actual reporting, research, and my own knowledge of what’s truly valuable and groundbreaking in my subjects, I could simply make all the stories be about Darius’s site to make a little extra money.

I could forget all the journalistic credibility I’d spent two decades building and make a little quick cash pretending this junk-content linkbait site was something valuable and noteworthy.

Can you guess what I told him?

“I’m not getting into a pay-for-backlinks agreement,” I wrote him. “It would compromise the journalistic ethics of what I’m creating for clients such as [major magazine]. I probably wouldn’t be working for them very long if I did something like this with their posts.”

I never heard a peep from Darius again. No doubt he moved on to asking other reporter/bloggers if they would be his stealth link pimps. Here’s hoping he didn’t find any takers.

I’m sure I could have made a nice chunk of change doing what he asked — at first. Until somebody figured it out, and I got fired from all my paid-blogging jobs.

For anyone who’s not aware, if you have a paid relationship with any source, you have to disclose it immediately to your client. You can’t ever pretend to “report” on a company that is paying you to say they’re great.

But plenty of desperate would-be Web entrepreneurs out there don’t know these rules, nor do they care. It’s up to you to act ethically to keep building the most important asset you have as a writer and reporter — your reputation. It can be hard to say “no” when you need the money…but this is one type of blogging-for-pay offer you’ll want to avoid.

28 Comments

  1. Kathi

    I am very new to blogging and struggling to establish consistency. I am in a “re-thinking” period of what direction I want to take my blog. Any help I get is great. This sounds like a fantastic giveaway!!

  2. Adam Green

    This reminds me of an email I recently received from a company requesting a quote for some blog writing jobs. Upon researching the company, I learned that they make money by writing academic papers for college students who, for whatever reason, don’t want to do the work. The student then takes the paper written by someone else and submits it as his or her own work. Cheating, right?

    Anyhow, I politely responded to the email by letting them know that I, as a former educator (and professionally trustworthy dude), could not condone their business practices and would not be working with them. Could I have gotten a steady gig from this group? Perhaps. But it’s never worth compromising your integrity.

    • Carol Tice

      Ah yes, the school-paper scam. Let’s hope all those ‘businesses’ close their doors. I would think the teachers can smell a paper from one of these mills a mile away, too.

  3. Mimi Plevin-Foust

    I’d like my blog to attract more traffic and comments and also bring me more consulting work but I’m not sure where to begin. I like the look of it and don’t want to change too much but would appreciate advice about how to tweak for better results.

  4. Bill Swan

    I’m guessing this is one of the “new” marketing ideas/scams being floated now that the Google hammer dropped. The guy probably realized his site got blown off the Internet by Google and is trying a work-around to save his butt. I didn’t think it would be too long before new scams arrived, although that was quick.

  5. Sallianne Norelli

    Hi there,
    My blog is at http://clarasclosetsoftdesignsforhomeandlife.blogspot.com/. What I am hoping to change about it is that I feel like I am writing into the wind…there have been hits, but who is reading it? I want to be able to understand my reader better.Also, I want to better make use of social media as I feel like my efforts are disjointed.
    Thanks!
    Sallianne

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Sallianne — without even getting to your blog I can see one problem — your name URL is too long, and you don’t have your own host. You should know that anything with the .blogger, .blogspot, etc in the name doesn’t convey a lot of credibility to ‘net browsers. I’d recommend getting a better URL to start out, if you really want to build it into a popular base you could make money from.

      • Carol Tice

        OK, I couldn’t resist and took a peek at your site. I definitely see some issues we could talk about…you should come to the Webinar. I’d love to have this blog as an example in the session! I know why you don’t know who is reading it…

  6. Madeleine Kolb

    Hi Carol,

    I’m already signed up and looking forward to the webinar! I think my challenge is that I write about something that a lot of people don’t even want to think about, namely aging. The whole focus is that most of the awful things we think we know about aging aren’t true. I write in a positive way, using my own experiences and constant research. Even so I think it’s a tough sell, so I’d love some input.

    Madeleine Kolb | Age Myths

  7. Judith

    I had an email a bit like yours, Carol! It was a woman in my case and if I put their content (with a link!) on my blog they’d pay me for it.

    I am a book blogger (reviewing books) of the Mommy Blogger kind – i.e., I don’t earn anything from my blog, but I could use the money. Even so, there is no way that I would compromise my credibility with my subscribers by posting something like that. A guest post, nice, but not this!

    If there’s anything I’d change about the blog, it’s the name! It’s pseudo-Dutch, but I’ve entered the international blogosphere now and the Dutch name doesn’t make sense anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚
    http://leeswammes.wordpress.com

    • Carol Tice

      Probably a good idea…the current name doesn’t give me any clues what it’s about, so it’s not giving you good SEO and drawing readers.

  8. Kim

    Hi Carol,

    I would like to redesign my blog to look more professional and attract more readers. It’s definitely a plain-jane Blogger template. Even those who do read don’t comment very often, so I would like to increase comments, too. Sometimes I get people who email me their comments and I’m not sure why they don’t just comment on the actual post. I also see on your comments section a check box to be notified of follow-up comments via email which is something Blogger doesn’t have, but I would love. I really like your new blog look and the way you transformed it into something easily navigable and readable. I want to do the same!

    • Carol Tice

      Ha — I get that emailed comments problem too…I just patiently tell them to please bring it to the blog! I get 1000 emails a week and shortly yours will be deleted…but you can participate in this dialogue forever by leaving a comment on the post.

  9. Melissa Worcester

    The blog listed here is really just a personal blog. I don’t intend or expect to make money off it, and I hardly ever have time to post. I’m working on starting a “real” blog. I worry I won’t have time to make it a success. There’s so much to learn and so much to do and it all seems very time consuming.

    • Carol Tice

      It all definitely does take time…but you can save a lot of time if you know the elements of successful blogs, and what turns readers off. That’s how Judy and I are designing the Webinar, as a big timesaver.

  10. Ana

    I recently started my blog, so my challenge is writing good posts fast enough. I’m having fun writing posts, and I want to make them interesting enough for others to want to comment. To begin with, I feel I need to budget my writing time and learn more about blog writing. I know the way to get better is to write more and practice, but a little guidance always helps!

  11. Osayi

    Hi Carol Tice,
    I would like to get more visitors and to focus my content.

  12. Carol Tice

    OK folks…I just have to reprint below an email I just received today. I had forgotten about this one.

    I gather if you’re a fashion or food reviewer this type of thing is an epidemic. Names deleted to protect the guilty…

    > “Hi,
    >
    > Iโ€™ve just launched a giveaway on my site and I was hoping perhaps you might consider very briefly mentioning it? I would very gladly send $55 (upfront of course) via paypal for a brief mention. I’d also create an exclusive discount for your readers as well.. I was hoping to get support of fashion bloggers like yourself to help generate awareness of our brand. Hope to hear from you soon! ”

    Everyone who blogs, I hope, is aware that if you accept paid swag for reviews like this, YOU MUST DISCLOSE THIS FACT IN YOUR REVIEWS. I don’t review products so this guy was totally barking up the wrong tree…but know that many folks are out there making these offers, and they don’t care if your site loses all its credibility with readers. It’s up to YOU to look out for your own integrity online!

    BTW…this guy was getting back in touch today to offer me $75 instead in hopes that would swing me to talk up his sale.

    • Bill Swan

      Yep, like I said before here and on my own site, people are already looking for a way to get around the newest Google change. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are lots more emails like this out there already.

  13. Miss Britt

    I just had a VERY similar email exchange with someone last week! I was shocked!

  14. Michelle

    My blog is new, and I am trying to find my own voice and my own focus. I have more than twenty years experience as a wine and food consultant and writer and want to translate that into creating a super blog. Sometimes I think my difficulty is that I know too much about my subject. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Carol Tice

      I can see how that would be a problem! You need to think about who you’re writing for, what they already know, and what they’d like to find out. Take polls and ask them as soon as you have even a dozen readers, and start shaping it from there.

  15. Nancy Hyden Woodward

    Sometimes, it is hard to deliver the truth. But, in my case, if I veer in the slightest from what really happened, my blog becomes fiction. I’m trying to alert a wide audience (that I do not have at the moment) to be oh so careful about their Wills and whom they want to administer their last wishes.
    My dilemma is that I have four years worth of correspondence between family members and our lawyers but I hesitate to use the law firms’ real names in Atlanta. I’m not there but the “event” took place there. Any thoughts?

    • Carol Tice

      If it were me I’d just leave the names off — the reader doesn’t really need to know them to learn from what happened, right?

  16. Nancy Passow

    I recently received a similar e-mail (names omitted), which I promptly deleted (but then I fished it out of trash after reading your blog, so I could share it):

    “My name is xxx from Axxxx Wxxx Sxxxx. We have a client who would like to pay you for the opportunity to post some of their content on your website. All of the content is professionally produced and you can select from pieces relevant to your audience.

    The result is you get some free, interesting content for your readers while getting paid.

    In return our client is asking for one link that they specify at the bottom of the content (no porn or gambling). Feel free to contact me with any concerns or clarifications you may have.

    If you would like to see some examples of our content, please email me at xxx so we can begin.”

    It’s always something!

    • Judith

      I received that exact same email!

      • Carol Tice

        Ha! Probably was a mass-mailing to lots of bloggers.

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