Friday, February 8, 2013


Oh gawd not another fucking blog post about monetization and disclosure?! Yes, yes it is.

I choose to monetize this blog. Whether you choose to do it to yours or not, or read sponsored posts is as of much concern to me as which footy team you support. Each to their own, and all that shebang, unless it's the West Coast Eagles in which case EWW (aaand I just lost half my WA readers).

There has been a lot of discussion on disclosure lately and I had thought I'd always been up front about it. Turns out, not everyone thought so. I would always put right at the top of a post if it was sponsored, and for me sponsored meant money had changed hands and usually, but not always, the client had requested copy for review before publishing, normally to make sure delicate little me hadn't said fuck too many times.

I have always put a disclosure down the bottom when I'd received something for free and it always meant that there no money was paid, there was no copy sent for approval and sometimes even no obligation to blog. It might seem weird but sometimes companies will send you fabulous things or to amazing events just hoping you'll love it enough to write about it. I pinch myself when I think I've been sent interstate twice (once to Sydney and once to Radelaide) by companies who included a "no obligation to blog" in their invites.

It was "the way" to do it, recommended to me by other Bloggers and at conferences. So I did it and thought nothing more of it.

I find it annoying when I read all the way through a post only to find out at the bottom that the writer was paid cold hard cash... what I hadn't realized was that some people find it equally annoying getting to the bottom and finding out that there was a freebie involved. I've never found it an issue, but I can understand that some would so I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to change.

So where do we draw the line? Does a packet of $3.50 bandaids require a disclosure? Is it only on posts that have to be approved by a PR consultant before pressing the giant publish button? Are the rules different for blogs with a few hundred readers a month versus a few hundred thousand readers a month? Is it OK to not disclose if you don't monetize but take on unpaid reviews? What are the rules?

Well, there are no rules. Not yet, anyway. I will sing a long and grateful tune, complete with interpretive dance and spirit fingers when disclosure laws for new media are passed and we are all on the same page. But for now, I will disclose everything up the top. EVERYTHING. Which is more than magazines do, more than TV shows do - and they're getting a shed load more cash, I don't earn enough money from this blog for it to be considered anything more than a hobby by the ATO (yep, I've had long chats with them - they kinda laughed at me for wanting to declare the pocket money I make on here).

Short of writing a freakin' novel on top of every post, I've come up with my own blog disclosure policy and after sharing it around for opinions and having a few Bloggers come back to me asking I'd mind if they do something similar (I don't mind, go for it), I think I'm on to a good thing... but it could always be improved.

What hasn't changed, and will never change, is that it is always my honest opinion. These "post codes" (geddit?) will appear on all posts where I received anything at all: a product, a launch invite, money or vouchers - even product I don't actually get to keep. There are times when I receive nothing... so looks like I need to update it already.

So tell me, whaddya think? What have I missed? 


  1. Lara at This Charming MumFebruary 8, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    This is a fantastic post and helpful to many of us who are still tiptoeing through the disclosure minefield. I'm about to create my first media kit and all these issues are whizzing around in my head! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I shall now proceed to steal your ideas... ;)

  2. Unusually for me, I am disagreeing with the intensity of all this. Just because some people complain or whinge, doesn't mean I have to respond.

    As I tell my kids constantly.

    I do like it if a post declares it's sponsored right at the top... but have yet to do that myself (cos I can't work out how to make the text different enough to suit me, and anyway haven't done many sponsored posts.

    BUT when I read a post if I can tell it's a 'puff piece' I can suspect my credibility... and so can others. Click away... or not... whatever...

    Lets not get too holier than thou or too politically correct or we might suck the life out of our blogging. It's good to be better than some other media, but no need to protest too much.

  3. I think this is very helpful. The actual way you write you disclosure policy is what appealed to me the most. Thanks for sharing especially of us that are dipping out toes in.

  4. Great post!! Pity we have to worry about it. Rachel x

  5. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I don't give two shits if you get every bloody brand under the sun throwing money or product at you; I don't care if you write reviews, sponsored posts or about stuff that you get "gifted" til the sun comes up - more power to you! I don't even care how you disclose this information in a post, I just want you to disclose it at the START of the post BEFORE your reader/s engage in that post.

    Be upfront. Be honest. Treat your readers with respect and they will repay you tenfold by returning time and time again. Hide things, be shady and treat your readers with contempt and like their fkn idiots and you're going to lose them and a blog without readers is....well I'm not really sure what it is but not very successful springs to mind!

    I really don't understand what the big deal is with moving disclosure from the bottom of a post to the top, I truly don't, can you, can ANYONE, explain it to me?

  6. That was the clincher for me to change it, actually. I'm already saying it down the bottom, does moving it up the top really make much of a difference? Or am I keeping it down the bottom because part of me thinks people would click away if it was at the top? As soon as I thought of it that way as opposed to just "this is the way it's always been done", I felt a little dishonest, like I was conning people in to reading it.

    I pride myself on my honesty and that moment made me feel terrible. I don't want people to feel conned in to reading something, I want them to read it because they happen to be looking for someone's opinion on xyz product/service before they buy it.

  7. Oh, you've hit it on the head. Spot on in my very shady newbie opinion. Love it.
    Prue xx

  8. If they suit you, steal away, Lara! I know a lot of people disagree with me, but if we all agreed it would be boring :)

  9. Since you probably don't agree with me anyway, throwing my two cents in. No blogger should ever feel that they need PR approval on a post that has not been paid for. It scares me that PRs are asking for that and even more scarily that bloggers feel obligated to show them their posts before publication.

    Re disclosure, I've been abiding by my policy for more than 2 years now. My readers know and trust that I do this with integrity. Always have, always will.

  10. I wrote a comment when I read this but it disappeared so I rolled over and thought agghhh cbf writing that again!
    It was basically, I liked it before and don't give a furry rat's behind if you get paid as long as it's a truthful and good post!
    Also had a laugh at the tax man laughing at you and your 'pocket money'.

    Lots of Rachel's going on here!! Yay for Rachel's!!

  11. I think consistency is key, Nikki, and you've always been consistent and up front with your policy and your readers (me included!) are well aware of it and respect it. If I had a blog such as yours where multiple products and brands get a mention within one post after being sent unsolicited, my policy would differ greatly and be more in line with yours/my previous one.

  12. It's so annoying, isn't it? Tonight I've been having an email conversation with some Bloggy friends about how we now feel we can't take a picture or write about something we like without people thinking we've been paid to do it, despite doing only a handful of sponsored things per year. The #notsponsored tag is going to be used a lot me thinks!

  13. Thanks, Annaleis. I think we all need to find our own way and figure out what feels comfortable. This feels comfortable for me :)

  14. There is a high proportion of Rachels! I had to jump through hoops to keep my ABN - I don't actually use it for tax purposes but the vast majority of companies require one to work together so I do put it on invoices. Explaining that to the tax office was fun and they did eventually let me keep it :)

  15. Some people write such fantastic sponsored posts that flow seamlessly and others you can tell by the end of the first sentence because it doesn't sound like them any more. Perhaps that's why I've never thought it an issue to disclose at the bottom before, because more often than not I can tell immediately from the change in tone so the little addition is no big surprise?

    The life *is* being sucked out of blogging! GAH!

  16. Thanks, Prue. Still a lot of grey area out there! x

  17. I've recently done my own disclosure policy about working with brands because brands, for some inexplicable reason, have decided they want to work with me. Yippee! I wrote my disclosure policy - called Kimba Likes Keeping It Real Policy - in response to some tweets I received asking if I was sponsored. No, I just bloody liked the product and thought it was a funny line - one or other of those, occasionally both, are my usual reasons to tweet! ;)

    In the first line of my paragraph, I say sponsored or gifted. If I don't say that, it's because I luff it so. I also put my disclosure policy link at the bottom. If it is sponsored (ie I receive cash) I put this in the post title. Works for me.

    Love your postcodes! X

  18. I appreciate all the work that went into that and the desire to be transparent and honest with your readers. But, to be honest, all I really want to know is whether a blogger was asked/encouraged to write about the product in any way - it doesn't bother me whether it was a no-strings-attached gift or a full on paid for proof-read copy. I just want to know whether the review was in any way forced into existence. I trust you and the other bloggers I read, but if anything has changed hands I'm going to take the review with a grain of salt. It becomes an entertaining ad and my decision to purchase or not is the same as with any other entertaining ad. I guess what I'm saying is that, for me, that level of detail isn't needed. I just want to know if the idea for writing was in any way encouraged by the product/service provider.

  19. Hi Jilly, thanks for your comment. I was trying to address the "forced in to existence" by having an option for "obligation to blog". Though I only ever agree to write about things that I know I can turn in to a bit of an anecdote because the forced just doesn't go down well with me.

  20. That's the annoying thing lately, Kim-Marie! That every time we talk about ANYTHING people assume it's sponsored. I'm hoping by disclosing everything that when people see no disclosure they'll know it was just something I felt the urge to write/tweet/FB about x

  21. YES! I agree with you completely. Plus, you have a blog that is about BOOKS? Link me up, baby!

  22. And also (I have my ranty pants on right now. Sorry about that).
    I don't care if someone discloses because who on earth lets the word of one blogger determine whether they try a product that they weren't planning to try anyway? I've never been talked into buying/trying something I wasn't ALREADY planning to try by a blogger. Even if I adore the blogger. Are we really not old enough to work this out for ourselves?
    I'm backing away now, I promise.


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