|Photo: My own|
The intersection of blogging and commerce is a strange place.
On this post, alex239 commented "this is a blatant advertisement for a specific brand of razors. Slaves to advertising, all of ya! so cute." 12:18 a.m.
Unsatisfied that the comment didn't show up immediately, alex expanded on that thought. "This is an obvious advertisement for a specific brand of razors in a linkbait section at the bottom of a USA Today article. Slaves to advertising, so cute." 12:19 a.m.
Now frustrated that neither comment appeared, alex concluded that at 12:20 a.m., with two comments now so clearly ignored alex concludes one thing -- "of course, censhorship, for pointing out the obvious nature of the advertising."
When I checked my email at 12:15 p.m., these three comments awaited moderation. I published them, as I have most comments on that post. The only ones not published were either too vile to publish or spam.
My initial reaction was "Who is this online avenger and why do they think it's okay to complain about a clearly labeled commercial?" My second reaction was, I'm blogging about this. Because that's what I do when something gets my attention.
But back to Alex. The comment about the post being "linkbait" stings a little. I haven't a clue how the linking company picked my post to place at the bottom of articles ranging from USA Today to Slate. I didn't pay for it, but I'm grateful nonetheless. Perhaps the post was chosen by outbrain because of its possibly provocative title. What not to shave.
I admit wondering what people expect to read or see when they click the link. Perhaps something more like this? I think we can all agree that with my filthy mind, I could come up with far more titillating content than a story about how I shave my toes and belly button.
This pains me greatly because very few things in this world would please me more than to have all the thousands of people who have clicked that link to read something that kept them coming back for more. Instead this feels like a missed opportunity to make a great first impression.
It's the Ice, Ice, Baby of my blogging "career." Thankfully, it's not plagiarized. Take that, Vanilla Ice.
If the linkbait comment stung, Alex's censorship comment tickled me. That, too, is commerce-related. Over a year ago, I added comment moderation to battle spam comments on my older posts. Now, any post older than four days requires comment moderation. A point which is clearly stated in the comment box that alex must have missed in the rush to have a say.
A question: Should this convince me to decline future offers to write sponsored posts?
Over the years, when I had to ask for donations, readers suggested I monetize the blog. I resisted for a long time because I worried about how it would affect my writing. Then an opportunity arrived and I decided to risk it.
The outcome has been mixed. The money helps our still precarious financial situation. Just because I have a job doesn't mean we're still not making choices between buying gasoline to get to work and food when we reach the thin end of the month. The stats and the chance to reach a wider audience (there are some who click on other posts, thank goodness) are amazing. Other new opportunities are popping up and I'm grateful for more chances to write and be paid to do so.
When writing future sponsored posts, I'll first have to censor the alex in my head. The Worrier. The Shamer. The Constant Questioner. Can I find a way to write well and fit the requirements that sometimes are part of writing a sponsored post?
Is it better to simply decline and take the high road for my "art?" And why do I feel like an asshole using the word art to describe what I do?
I'll start with repeating the Bill Cosby quote "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone" and go from there.