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As others have said, Samantha needs to brush up on the new FTC regulations (released in January).

I feel a blog post coming on. :)

Sebastian Franck

Lots of suspicion in these comments.

However, pure and clean sponsorship where you mention the fact that the blog has been sponsored by so-and-so, maybe even accompanied by a link or and endorsement, is nothing but good business sense.

I'd like to point you in the direction of John Gruber, whose "Daring Fireball" ( is one of the most read and respected blogs in its area. Gruber has no ads, but makes a supposedly very handsome living out of occasional "sponsored by" posts. This does nothing whatsoever to diminish his integrity or trustworthyness.

IMO such sponsorships are clearly the best way of "monetizing your blog" as they call it. You might even consider it a service to your readers.

CV Harquail

thanks for bringing this up, and Wally & Alison for adding their experience...
I got this email & threw it away, but up until this point never really thought about whether anyone in my circle of bloggers ever responds to these. Frankly, I prefer if they offer me a free book and a chance to interview the author (hint, hint, Wally) but even so...
I just think of the emails, link exchanges, pr announcements and the like as a passive experiment in "S#%& Not To Do" and marvel at the naivete that anyone would think sending these emails in worth their time.
Thanks for blowing their cover.

Barb Chamberlain

Samantha needs to brush up on the new FTC rules for bloggers (as should all bloggers--none of the comments here mention it and you all need to know about it unless you'd relish a nice fat fine and negative publicity).

What she's proposing is something that has to be disclosed.

This link by an Internet law site is just one of many you'll find if you search on FTC blog disclosure:

As someone who works in communications, public affairs and now social media, I wouldn't dignify her request with the label "PR." She's trying to do an online advertising buy *disguised* as PR--and doing it poorly.


ally polly

Ha !

Thanks, Bob.

I miss reading your blog.
Don't know where I've been...

Bob Sutton


You get the "brevity is the soul of wit award." I want to thank all of you for such thoughtful comments. I agree that it is not a wise idea to do for many reasons, although I don't want to leave the impression that I am an unselfish angel as, truth be told, I do try to sell my own books. The other lesson I learned from your comments is, when I am praising a person, company, product and so on, and have some personal or financial relationship involved, I should take more care to disclose that fact. Thanks again -- and I am finding myself feeling a bit bad for Samantha.

ally polly

Is Sam a blobbyist?

Wally Bock

FWIW, Samantha contacted me as well. The message was precisely the one in your post. I suspect darling Sam is mining our blog rolls. What I found interesting and a bit appalling, was that she was requesting a link embedded in a post, not an ad, an addition to the blog roll, or a guest post as others I've gotten.

Joseph Lira

well, if the product they ask you to sponsor is actually good, I would consider it, only if it is something I would recommend even without the payment, because you risk loosing credibility if you recommend bad stuff.
something like good books or good blog recommendations are often appreciated

Ask a Manager / Alison Green


I wrote back to Samantha to ask what she envisioned paying. Her reply -- $75.

I pointed out to her that no established blogger with credibility and good traffic is going to consider something that low, and that she might be better off approaching blogs with lower traffic, so that she's not asking an established blogger to sell their credibility for $75.

Her response, which just blows me away: "All I am asking is to put a mention at the bottom of you upcoming post. This takes 5 seconds for an established blogger as it is only one line of code."

I wrote back to her: "It's not a question of how much time it takes -- you're right that it
would take 5 seconds. It's a question of the value you'd be getting -- 5 seconds of my time and three years of my work to build credibility
and high traffic. Are you really basing your price on how much time it will take people, not on the value they'd be supplying? That's crazy."

She has not been heard from since.

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

I just received the identical email message from "Samantha." I usually ignore these, but having just seen this discussion, I decided to ask what they traditionally pay for such things, and I'll return here and let you know. I can almost promise that it'll be a pretty small sum.

I agree with Greg that it's hard to go back once you cross that boundary.


I have never had an issues with a blogger receiving consideration, as long as they are up front and honest ("Apple sent me an iPhone and paid me to review it").

Over the years I have read magazines, newspapers, and newsletters that receive consideration from outside sources.

However, the publications that refuse all consideration are in a special class. Once that boundry is crossed, it will be very difficult to go back.


Did they explicitly mention a link though? The text reproduced here simple states "a mention within the body or the byline of the post".

This seems more like classic product placement to me, which is widespread in all media formats these days, so why not blogs (assuming it is a product you would actually endorse)?

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

Yep, I get these too. I believe that once you're at a certain level of blog traffic (which you're certainly at), it takes way more money than these companies are usually offering to even consider thinking about something like this. Basically, they want to buy your credibility for their own gain. I recommend ignoring them!

(But I suppose maybe in a certain light they're better than the dozens of PR people who try to get bloggers to promote their products/authors/news releases for free?)

Stan Taylor

You're correct to be skeptical.

It's Google scamming. Since Google PageRank takes into consideration links from 'established' sites in calculating a site's rank, it's worth their while to try to get links from other web sites. I get frequent requests to buy ad space on a web site I maintain. The Google value is much higher than any potential customers that my site might drive to the prospective purchaser's.


Sounds to me like they are trying to cleverly buy some "link love" from well known websites in order to improve their search engine rankings. I've seen this before with the infamous "text links" to be placed somewhere on the site, this looks like they are aiming to "hide" them in the actual body copy so that the search engine crawlers get duped into thinking it's a genuine link.

Sounds rather naughty to me, I would train my spam filter on mails like these.


Blogs have been commercialized like this for a long time. Popular bloggers get freebies, money for writing product reviews, and even paid trips to conferences and such sponsored by the companies that want to be written about.

The honest bloggers admit when they're receiving any sort of remuneration for what they right. There are lots of dishonest bloggers. And yes, I do consider it dishonest when a blogger fails to disclose that they have a financial interest (past or future) in what they're writing about.

I'm sure my blog ( is far less popular than yours, but I've been getting occasional offers for people to pay me money to write about them / link to them / whatever for years. I pretty much always ignore them. (I do have AdSense on my blog, which pays me very little -- I finally got my first $100 payment from them after having them on my blog for a year.)

Something you have to be careful for is if someone asks you to put a link or ad on your blog, and they aren't clearly working for an ad agency or company you can verify and trust, there's a good chance they're trying to use your blog as a platform for getting malware onto people's computers.

Bob, I've gotten those come-ons from time to time. I've said no every time.

I'd stay away. The very modest upside is overwhelmed by the reputation downside.

Peter Edstrom

I like to look at it in extremes.

What would happen if you did that on every post? In every paragraph? Would it still be your blog? Would it still be your voice?

If it is a friend or association that you would personally like to promote, then yes, it is ok. But as soon as you are doing something you wouldn't naturally do anyway, you're loosing your own voice on your own blog.

Michael F. Martin

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