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Is Your Content Alienating Possible Sponsors? (The Answer Could Surprise You)

For years I have wanted to write a blog post about the ridiculousness of brands who refuse to work with bloggers who swear. The working title was, “Who gives a F*%* about the word F*%*?” I never got around to writing that eloquent essay, but I’m kind of glad, as I think there has been a bit of a shift in the paradigm here.

My favorite bloggers have always been the ones with filthy mouths (yes, I realize what this says about me). I myself swear like a sailor, so that kind of content resonates. Often, the most influential bloggers are the ones who “tell it like it is.” And, the thing is, those of us with filthy mouths need consumer packaged goods just like everyone else. I often think back to Seinfeld. That show was overrun with product placement, but the show topics weren’t always family-friendly (remember King of My Domain???). My frustration with the refusal to work with bloggers who cover racy topics or use racy language was partly due to my suspicion that there was a double-standard at play. Would Snapple have put its bottles in Seinfeld’s fridge if he were a mommy blogger?

Interestingly, the above situation is not a huge concern of mine these days (though the double standard still pisses me off). I have started to see a new situation arise, and it is really surprising to me. I am now being confronted with clients who have no issue with bad language at all. What they do have an issue with is the mention of religion.

A few months ago, I had a client turn down one of my bloggers for a paid program. The reason? On her Bio page, she describes herself as a political junkie, feminist and progressive Episcopalian. Another blogger was refused because she has a section on her site about prayer.

Many of my bloggers happen to be religious, and a lot of them share this on their sites. Sometimes this is done very subtly (with just a little graphic in the sidebar). Sometimes religion is part of the content itself. I have to wonder if this is going to affect their ability to monetize moving forward. And if so, should they stop mentioning it? I have had no problem suggesting to bloggers that they tone down their language if sponsorship is super important (even though that bugs me). But… somehow asking someone to stop talking about their religion feels inappropriate to me. I also have to wonder where these clients are drawing the line. Would I be out of consideration because I share my family’s Passover recipes?

I’m really eager to hear people’s thoughts on this. Would you stop swearing or stop talking religion if it meant more opportunities for monetization?

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