Blog Monetisation and Disclosure


As blogging continues to take off in Australia so does the question of monetisation become more hotly discussed (just in case you hadn’t noticed!)

Currently the law in Australia does not require that a blogger disclose when they are being paid as part of their work for a brand. That said, I believe the general consensus is that bloggers have a moral obligation to disclose when they have been paid using the words “This is a sponsored post.

Some brands try to get around this by asking bloggers to do one of the following things
– not disclose at all
– use a different word such as “collaboration” or “partnership”

There is another approach to the sponsored post market, and that is where a business will ask to place a “guest post” on your site – this may or may not be a paid post but it is not written by the author of the blog but by a business owner. I have to say, I think this is a terrible idea! The blogger is the one who knows their readership the best and knows how to deliver content that will be meaningful. Not only does the blogger risk breaching trust with their readers by allowing this content on their site, they aren’t likely to deliver value to the business they are working with. Being paid to blog can be a great opportunity for a blogger, but make sure you never compromise your authenticity or credibility with your audience – if you lose them, more than anything else you will have lost the heartbeat of your blog.

Why It’s Important To Disclose

It may not be illegal for you not to disclose,  but it will cause you problems with your readers.

1. Readers can tell if content is sponsored. Many bloggers have even taken to including a disclosure on even non-sponsored posts to say “this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really like the brand”.

2. Many readers don’t mind sponsored content where it’s a really good fit with the blog; what they do mind is being duped.

3. If you damage your relationship with your readers then you will probably feel a bit sad; you will also damage your cred with many amazing brands, who are looking for bloggers who have great integrity and trust with their readers.

4. One of the arguments in favour of sponsored posts is that a brand can’t pay for your words but they can pay for space on your site, and your time crafting and promoting a post on their behalf. If you don’t disclose this argument loses its potency which hurts everyone.

 

Why Sponsored Posts Are Legitimate

I am not going to go into this in great detail in this post as it’s been covered in the other posts I’ve written on this topic but there is one thing I would like to say. Bloggers who write sponsored posts are not being paid for their words, it’s because I hold this high standard that I also don’t believe that bloggers should have their posts reviewed by the brand before they go live. If a brand or agency takes the time to select the right blogger for the campaign; a blogger with a good track record for integrity and quality brand partnerships, then there should be no need to review a post.

 

How do you feel about sponsored posts? Would you (have you) ever not-disclosed payment to your readers?

 

If you liked this article, then sign up to have our posts delivered straight to your inbox: Sign Up Here

 

14 Comments

  1. Transparency is important. There is no credibility without it. I wouldn’t want to work with a brand that didn’t recognize this.

    Post a Reply
    • Absolutely – it’s a good way to work out if the brand is one you want to be aligned with, as much as anything else.

      Post a Reply
  2. I’m new to the whole sponsored post issue so do have a question. I have a blog giveaway coming up and decided for the first time to take a chance and approach 2 companies (1 cosmetic/beauty and 1 chocolate) about donating goods to the giveaway. To my surprise they both agreed and sent me products. There was no discussion about me saying anything about the products or the company, I just have to send a link to the post when it goes up and they’ll publicise it through their outlets. I do intend to acknowledge and thank both companies for their support, but wonder if I need to say more. Does this count as a ‘sponsored post” in the traditional sense and do I need to have a disclosure statement at the top of the post? Or am I just over-thinking the whole thing. To be honest I never thought they’d say yes so hadn’t really thought that far ahead and now feel like I’m playing catch up on the whole thing.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes, as Nikki said. A sponsored post is one for which you were paid cash. Seeing as you are going to be thanking them in their support and mentioning their donations I don’t see that you would need to go further than in disclosing.

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks for the replies. I’ve been given differing opinions and had been told by a few people that goods equate to cash so it was technically sponsored but wasn’t sure, so great to get the clarification here.

        Post a Reply
        • Did the companies send you products to keep as well as give away? If so then while not a ‘sponsored post’ you have been gifted items and should disclose that. If you haven’t received anything to keep but are just giving them away (and especially as they are products you sourced yourself (as opposed to being offered/asked to write about)) then there’s absolutely no ethical issue at play – you are simply giving away something you like for the enjoyment of your readers. One of the reasons the term “sponsored” is reserved for cash payment is for clarity – so readers know when money has changed hands. When goods are involved disclosure is still (strongly!) recommended and certainly if you go through an agency like Brand Meets Blog we require it, but we don’t use the word sponsored rather a very clear statement such as “I received product x to review, however the words and opinions contained in the post are my own.” Does that make sense?

          Post a Reply
  3. In the US we have FTC disclosure guidelines that I think are important for the very fact they require that transparency. Bloggers need to build trust with their readership, and disclosure is a perfect way to do it. No shame in monetizing the work you do. Also, a disclosure policy is a great thing to have as well. It’s all about building trust.

    I did an IF EMILY POSTED on this issue not long ago. Happy to send the link if you’d like!

    Post a Reply
  4. Just as you won’t want to lose friends over money, I believe it’s impt to not lose your readers over the same way. Credibility and transparency is so impt.

    Currently in Singapore there’s no policy stating we need to disclose either, but it’s just basic decency as a blogger to I feel. Like you mentioned, I do a little extra to state when I’m writing a review that is not paid, just to remove any ambiguity that I might have received any benefits.

    Post a Reply
    • I totally agree!!

      Post a Reply
  5. As a blogger and someone who also works in the PR/marketing industry, I am aware that there is such confusion about this type of thing and I hope we all meet a consensus (as the US has done – thanks for explaining Alexandra) on best practice sooner, rather than later because I think it will genuinely help both bloggers and brands maintain credibility. Thanks for taking a step towards defining what’s acceptable and what’s not Louisa.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for commenting Hannah, great to hear from others working in this industry. Would love to hear your thoughts on best practice; I completely agree about the credibility issue!

      Post a Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sponsored Posts – Fabulous or Terrible? | Digital Marketing - […] Under Australian Consumer Law, failure to disclose paid endorsements is considered misleading and deceptive conduct, and penalties can be…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × three =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.