There, I said it. But hear me out first: I think that blogging is a very unique medium. Anybody with a computer and some knowledge of how to work a web browser could start a blog. I think it's beautiful the way people customize (and re-customize many times over) their personal, virtual spaces that are their blogs. The idea for this post came to me on my commute home from work. I had some downtime during the day and looked around for some new blogs to read. During this browsing, feelings that had previously been percolating inside me suddenly erupted. These feelings are regarding a blogging cultural trend that I've been seeing for the past year: blog ads, or "sponsoring." I'm probably going to offend people with this post. I know I will, depending on who reads it, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.
I run in the crafting/DIY/lifestyle/fashion blog circles, mostly written by regular people very close to my age. And by regular people, I mean that they're not major corporate brands. I don't know when this happened, but at some point blogging became less about writing and sharing and more about hoarding followers and money. It's become disturbingly commercialized. I recently reached out to someone (and I won't name names) about doing a guest post or some kind of feature, and I gladly would have returned the favor. But what did she do? She pretty much just referred me over to the section of her blog where I could purchase an ad.
I've sponsored a few blogs, hoping to get more traffic to my own. I've shelled out as much as $30 for a month of advertising on other blogs with the promise of a guest post, or more likely, a giveaway. So not only did I lose money because I paid this blogger to have a little picture in their sidebar referring back to my blog, but I also lost money because I had to donate one of my jewelry pieces that I otherwise could have sold. Sure, I got some traffic through the giveaways, but that was just from people who were doing whatever they could to get some free stuff. They never stick around and become consistent readers. All of the blog sponsorships I've done haven't worked at all in getting more traffic. One person I sponsored wouldn't even let me do a giveaway or a guest post because my jewelry didn't "fit [her] aesthetic." However, she very willingly took my money without hesitation, and what I paid for required minimal work on her part. I even see some of these blogs offering HTML buttons for people to copy and paste into their sidebars to show support. So...you expect me to put one of your buttons on my blog, but I have to pay to have mine on yours? Let us step back and reflect on this ridiculous concept.
I would love to do a guest post on someone's blog, but I'm afraid that with most blogs, that's not possible unless I fork over upwards of $15 first. To me, that's so inappropriate. I'm all for having buttons for my favorite blogs in my sidebar, but what happened to supporting friends just for the sake of supporting friends? What happened to giving a leg up to someone who needs a push? Chances are, you were also there once, and it's time to return the favor. As a blogger, I would never ask people for money if they wanted me to promote them. To be quite frank, I think blog sponsoring is a rip off.
I blog about the places I go, the sites I see, the things I do. Every once in a while I promote my Etsy shop on this blog. I blog because I love sharing my experiences, my thoughts, and my art in various forms. I don't believe in charging for ad spaces on personal blogs, but I'm not so sure others feel the same way.
How do you feel about blog sponsoring? I'd love to hear your thoughts.