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 [the  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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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. 🙂

    • 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.

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