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10 April 2012


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Wait - we can get $20 gift cards?!!!!!!!!!!!!


I didn't know you guys had a code of ethics!

I know of a popular blogger who sells her services as a pet consultant. She inserts what appears to be some commercial links in her posts. After I emailed her, I received a formatted reply because she had so many complaints about one post. She noted she'd removed the link to the pet food company site. I have to wonder about her integrity now. Perhaps she's not doing that well with her business if she needs to add links to questionable pet food companies, etc.


I have a bit of a dilemma. I'm working on a site and on that site I WANT to raise awareness on the pet industry, foods, treats, etc. I WANT to promote independent business, retailers, "good" stuff. So if I feature someone I want to feature and run a promotion with them, that's not unethical, right? I mean, I know it's a slippery slope. In theory, I could get greedy and just start promoting Science Diet. But I know me and I know that's not something I would ever, ever do. I'm far too opinionated and ethical to make a living :)

So how does one navigate this kind of thing when their goal is not to be a blogger, per say, but to be a blogger who promotes a specific type of product/ industry/ lifestyle, etc?


Amy, I don't think it means you're evil... or bad... or even wrong in any moral sense of the word. But I believe that if we benefit in any way from our work as writers/bloggers/media figures, including getting increased traffic to our blog or site because of products donated by manufacturers, retailers, etc., we've damaged our credibility.

If you want to have a website advocating products, in my view, I would say you shouldn't accept free products even for review -- I always either return or donate or pay for anything I review -- including for giveaways or personal use.

In other words, if you're writing about how great dog toy x is and the company has given you a dozen of them to give away to your readers... well, I believe that damages your crediblity.


So I'm thinking that, if you are interested, I'd love to hire you for a bit of consulting as I'm working through a business plan/strategy. I really value and respect your opinions and I have quite a few questions I've been mulling over regarding this kind of thing. Would you be interested in giving me your thoughts on some of these questions? I don't want to take up your time by asking for free advice and I have a few questions. Feel free to turn me down if it's not of interest to you or if you know someone else who would be willing to do a bit of consulting, I'd love a recommendation. I'm working on a strategy that is related to this discussion. I would love to be independently wealthy, but as that's not the case, I have a couple ideas on revenue streams, but this is the very thing I'm struggling with. I'm not interested in "sponsored" blog posts, for many reasons, and I'm sure you're familiar with all of them. But I am interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle for pets and I don't want to just speak generally about products, businesses, etc. I don't want to get too long-winded (probably too late) here, so if you're interested in some consulting, let me know. I'd love to set something up. THANKS!


I should clarify. Can be done on phone, I would guess about an hour or less. I will pay you! I'd tell you a bit about what I'm doing and keep q's to the topic. (I won't contact you again about it. I don't want to be obnoxious).


Just emailed you. :)


I completely disagree. I don't see how offering someone something to try would be unethical, especially if the blogger is free to review it however she feels. It's like saying that any business that isn't a non-profit is unethical! Spreading the word on, and offering your readers something that you like for free or at a discount is plus for your readers and doesn't damage your credibility as long as it is honest.


Andrew, we can disagree on whether it's ethical or not, but there's no question it does damage your credibility. It damages it with me, for instance. And I'm not alone; I'm sure if I asked 20 random people on the street if they would wonder if a blogger had slanted a review to be more positive because a company gave them free products to give away to their readers, the majority would say yes.


I agree with you almost all the way down the line.

However, I don't see any problem with getting something for review; since I do reject offers which would compromise my own advice, I don't have a lot of spare change to get things all the time. My readers don't mind if the company offered it to me; what matters is my own honesty about how I got it... and especially what I think of it.

Myself, I only have a few vetted ads; NO text links in my articles, and no Google ads, which seem determined to offer ads for the opposite of whatever I'm advising.

Which is fine; part of what I offer is emphatically not conventional wisdom. This leaves me out of a lot of ad revenue; but reaps me the loyalty of my readers.

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