Quality Content Can't Be Free -- Why Advertisers are GOOD for Blogs


Our society is obsessed with getting something for nothing — or at least a getting really good deal on that something.

But, when it comes down to it, most of us adults understand the economy of “free” — someone is paying the bill somewhere along the line.

Free is not sustainable.

We understand that concept when we pay our mortgage, buy our groceries, and pay our phone bill. We understand that when we cash our paychecks.

And yet, there are some things that people expect to get for free — yes, you read this title of this post — content!

We fast forward past the commercials on our DVRs, we change the radio station when the song ends and an ad begins, and we flip past the advertisements in our favorite magazine, generally annoyed that this “money grabbing” is interrupting our good time.

And, watch out, if those ads interrupt us online — where we expect FREE — some people can get down right angry.

“How dare my favorite personal blogger put an ADVERTISEMENT in the middle of her feed!” “How dare that mom blogger write a sponsored post!” “They shouldn’t be able to make money blogging — they should be writing for free because… well… because…”

Yeah — exactly.

If a reader expects quality content from a writer taking time away from her family to produce top quality material, why on earth does that reader expect it to be delivered to her for free???

No one likes to be interrupted for an ad on TV — that is why people are stealing illegal downloads and avoiding ads. But the TV we watch is not “free” and the magazine we paid for $4.99 actually is subsidized. Even the mom blogging conferences we attend are made affordable by ADVERTISERS.

Marketing makes the world go round. Bloggers who spend money and time creating quality blogs need to monetize their blog.

And as much as someone may rage against the evil of advertising, it IS the advertisers that ALLOW us to have “free” content.

Sure, we are “paying” for the content too — we are consuming the advertising messages (or trying to avoid them.)

But, like a teenager who whines about their allowance without remembering that their lives are paid for by their parents, consumers of content need to realize that quality content cannot survive without a revenue model.

So, instead of getting bitter about the ads that are “interrupting” your free content — perhaps we can be grateful that they are there.

Why Are Blogs So Different?

In the comment section of Cecily’s post, Is Sponsored Content Worth It, I was pleased to read the support of bloggers monetizing and earning a living through their craft.

Bloggers like Selfish Mom and Marinka are claiming their right to make money blogging, to earn income on their product:

“…If you’re simply against sponsored posts if you just flat-out think that I shouldn’t make money that way then don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out of my blog.” — Selfish Mom

“I feel like sponsored posts is another attack on monetization. As in “how dare you make money from writing about your life?” I don’t understand why it’s unseemly for bloggers to make money. We accept advertising in absolutely every other facet of our lives. The Super Bowl was played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the Mets no longer play at Shea Stadium, they play at CitiField, and you can’t go near Google without seeing ads.” — Marinka

“Again I’ll draw comparisons to other forms of media—and I just don’t get it. Yeah, if a commercial comes on tv that I don’t care for, I may flip through the channels a bit, but I still will come back to the show I was watching. I don’t toss newspapers or magazines aside with a “Hmph! That publication has ADS in it! I’m not reading it anymore. — Why are blogs so different?” — Lisa @Smart Spending Spot

Indeed, blogs are often held to this different standard. Since the beginning, bloggers have had to fight to prove their worth, to be paid for their product. But the tides are changing. Bloggers, readers, and companies are recognizing that bloggers deserve to be paid for their work.

Advertising Done Right

The consensus in the comment section of Is Sponsored Content Worth It is that sponsored content needs to be done well and not overtake the blog, reducing the blog’s value.

Of course, I think we can all agree that everyone wins when advertisers and bloggers work together to create campaigns that somehow benefit the reader, or at least, do not weaken the site.

There are some fabulous bloggers and companies who are doing just that — working with advertisers to build creative and positive partnerships. Sponsorship isn’t bad — it is necessary for the survival and growth of quality content.

The trick is to do it well.

In my next post, I am going to feature some bloggers who are working with advertisers to sustain their blogs, while maintaining their voice and authenticity.

Read more of Janice’s posts at 5 Minutes for Mom.

And don’t miss a post — follow @5MinutesforMom on Twitter!

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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