Clarifying Points On Trust Capital, Classism And Social Climbing
A few things have come up over the past few days that demand some sharpening of points, it seems.
First, it seems that my post about the $5 per sponsored tweet program at BlogHer has been interpreted as an indictment chiefly on the low market price per tweet. I suppose this is a semi-reasonable assumption, given the title of the piece, and the fact that it was linked in Mir’s piece today at Work It, Mom! on getting paid what you are worth.
I want to clarify my point, though, since there has been some confusion. When I say I don’t think it’s “worth it” to participate in a program that pays you $5 to tweet a sponsored placement, I am saying I don’t think the hit you are going to take is worth it. I don’t mean that the “work” you’re doing isn’t worth $5 or that I am so wonderfully privileged that $5 means nothing to me, and please pass me my diamond-encrusted knickers and all of that. What I am saying is: this is a blog for people who hope to turn their personal blogs into money making ventures. And that kind of a venture depends upon something I am calling trust capital. And in my mind, trust capital is jeopardized by sponsored content regardless of how much you get paid for it and regardless of how well placed it is and regardless of whether or not you use the product being promoted or not. And that trust capital has a street value of far, far more than that. Far far more than anything that anybody can pay you for your content column. I am saying trust capital is so valuable, that you should possibly not ever (ever!) put anything sponsored in the content column of your own blog.
Putting an ad in your sidebar is very different from writing a sponsored post. That’s why you get paid so much more for a content column placement. I have seen it argued that some people only make $20 or less per month from their BlogHer Ads, and believe me I don’t doubt this. I still don’t think it is worth it to do a sponsored tweet, provided you want to be a professional blogger, and provided you value your trust capital. Because I think trust capital — the value of your content column (and the content of your tweets, and your Facebook status message) is worth more than that in the long run. I just do. It has nothing to do with being paid “what you’re worth.”
This is my opinion. You might not like it. I don’t really like it myself, in fact. I have done sponsored content on my personal blog and I was not particularly happy with the results, and I cannot articulate why without getting back to this idea of trust capital. It just does not work on some blogs and in some spaces, and as much as I don’t want that to be the case, I am increasingly finding it to be true. I am seeing more and more sponsored content that sucks. So I’m saying: I think people should think long and hard before they do it, regardless of how much they are being paid for it — whether it’s $5 or $50,000 — because I believe that it is going to be expensive for their blogs in the long run. You are running the risk of pissing off your audience, in my opinion, and it is much harder to get a new audience than it is to find a new way to monetize. I am just one person who thinks this. You have my permission to disagree.
But as far as the “classist” and social climbing accusations go, I’m going to have to take exception. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that my position is somewhat privileged, but get off your high horse: nobody who is participating in the $5 sponsored tweet-a-thon is doing it because the $20 they’ll receive from BlogHer 45 days from now is the last thing between them and the Welfare office. If that were the case, there are far more expedient measures of getting food to their tables, and I really hope they would explore those options before exploring further experiments in monetizing social media. Furthermore, I maintain that, if anything, my behavior on Twitter has always served to push me further into the gutter of social isolation, and I don’t understand how any of it could have been interpreted as being devised as social climbing –social sinking, maybe.
Freelance writing is different from writing sponsored posts on your blog. Freelancing or writing for pay on a website that is not your own is a different thing entirely from what I discuss on this blog. I don’t know anything about freelancing. If you would like advice on freelancing, check with a freelancing website. This is a blog that discusses issues pertinent to the business of blogging. If you aren’t planning on becoming a professional blogger, or if you are paid by somebody else to provide content for their blog, then you have a different set of considerations when you decide how to govern your behavior in the social media space.