Friday, January 2, 2009

SocialSpark Blog Marketing Sponsored Posts

After venting about the Smorty vs. Google scandal that I discovered recently, I had posted my findings on Gather, a super fun social networking community that I recently joined. I basically mentioned everything that I mentioned here on this blog; the fact that sponsored or paid blog posts = Google PageRank decrease, and that no matter how you slice it, it's bad for the blogger. I received a response from one Carri Bright, an employee of IZEA, the parent company of SocialSpark, another 'pay to blog' website in the mix. Here is a copy of what she wrote:

"I enjoyed your post and think that the decision to participate in sponsored posting is an important one for every blogger and I am glad to see some honest questions and conversation surrounding this decision.

As I work for IZEA, the parent company of SocialSpark, my view on this is a bit different. Obviously, we are firmly on the pro side of the Sponsored Posting argument. We believe that Sponsored posts do have a place in Social Media and that place is rapidly expanding.

If it is done correctly, Sponsored content should ALWAYS be disclosed, should only appear infrequently (a good sponsored to non-sponsored ratio is 1:10) and should fit nicely with the theme of your blog.

I also wanted to let you know that SocialSpark opportunities are all no-follow which makes them search engine (re: Google) friendly and will NOT cause your PR to disappear. In addition, SocialSpark has run campaigns for Sears, Ford, KMart, Dockers, Windows and Coke in the past few months, so big name companies are beginning to see the efficacy of this type of Marketing and we expect lots more in the new year."

I appreciate her response to this matter, however, I signed up for SocialSpark at the same time I signed up for the others. I honestly wasn't thoroughly impressed with what I saw, and therefore never made a post. I've read reviews on other 'at home money' blogs from people who really like this service, and have made quite a bit of money.

Personally, I am going to stay away from blogging for pay. The only thing I can think at this point, having lost PageRank on my other blog, is that if links have to be made 'no-follow' so Google doesn't know what's going on, it's still a scandal. (And I use the word scandal in order to refrain from calling this an outright scam!) It still seems scandalous to me, but I've included the post from Carri so that you may feel free to make your own decisions.

I will continue to gather more information on this topic and forward it along.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Truth about Get Paid to Blog, Sponsored Posts Sites

Well, well, well... did I learn a thing or two yesterday! When I started this blog, I had signed up for, and had been offering links to sponsored blog post and pay to blog websites that were 'legitimate' and not scams. Well, that little word 'scam' just has a large array of meanings here on the internet, doesn't it?

Though not scams, and likely still a great and satisfying way for some to earn money online with their blogs, sites like Smorty, PayPerPost and Sponsored Reviews really irritate Google. I hadn't been using any of them myself except Smorty. Smorty expressly has a blurb on their website that ensures that Google PageRank will not be affected as they do not require you to admit that you are writing a sponsored post on your blog. Well, I suppose right there should have been my first clue. If you are hiding something, that's a lie, and lying has consequences.

Well, I discovered the consequences of using my other personal blog for Smorty sponsored posts, as well as their fun little feature of post exchange. Post exchanges allow you to write posts for other blogs, and in turn, another blogger writes a post for you. This creates a one-way link into your blog so that 'supposedly' your Google PageRank will increase. To me, at first glance, this didn't seem like anything that could possibly be against any rules. And maybe it's not, but more about that in a moment. Once your Google PageRank increases, you get more sponsored opportunities from Smorty.

Well, I own 3 other websites and the two blogs. I've been obsessing over Google PageRank since I began this journey back in September of 2008. I finally got a PageRank increase to 1 last night on every site, including this blog, EXCEPT the blog that I used for Smorty...which is now back to N/A PageRank. That's even worse than Zero, I think. So, it immediately occurred to me that Smorty was the culprit. Upon a bit of research from other great bloggers, I realized that what I had been doing, and selling to the world as legitimate, is actually a great, big, fat GOOGLE TOS NO-NO!

So, I have officially suspended links to any and all 'get paid to blog' links. I checked out Social Spark and I just wasn't impressed with how they operate either. I refuse to tell you that you can make money posting on your blog for any of these sites because the entire point, besides getting paid, is to raise your Google PageRank. If you start at 0, you can't get any rank when Google catches you, and if you start higher and get lots of paid posting opportunities, you'll lose your Google PageRank when Google catches you. It's a no win situation!

So, I'm back to simply writing articles for the sites that I know to be legitimate. These include Helium, Bukisa, Associated Content, eHow and others. Links can also be found to the right of this blog.

Also, I'm having a rather good time at Gather. Gather is a social networking community that boasts 'The Best Conversation Online.' Not only can you make great friends and find interesting topics on which to comment, but you also earn points for your contributions that can be cashed in for gift cards or Paypal cash. More on this shortly.