Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Adverts and Blogging With Integrity

BlogWithIntegrity.com

I've been meaning to write this post for a while because I'm in the process of compiling a new Page for this blog about my policy regarding advertising and links. Some of you may have noticed a new Sponsors section on the right, which shows I'm now taking some paid advertising.

I've resisted going down this route for 3 years because I appreciate the blogging community and it's been very easy to do so previously because it's clear that most of the many companies who do get in touch haven't read my blog at all. However, I was shocked late last year when I reviewed NAH's and my accounts to find just how much my blogging is costing me in terms of travel, entrance fees, arrangements for Meet at Malvern, postage for giveaways etc etc. Of course I would have done quite a lot of these things anyway as they're so enjoyable, but it's also true that blogging has intensified these activities: probably doubled them at least.

So after a great deal of thought I've decided not to go down the Affiliate or Adsense routes as I have little or no control over what happens with these potential income earners. Nor will I be accepting paid blog posts or commercial 'guest' posts. Instead I will be accepting paid advertisements for a limited number of 'slots' on my blog, which will reflect Veg Plotting's main content i.e. gardening, allotments, seasonal food, greener living and life in Wiltshire.

Some of you may be wondering what this has to do with the clothing company currently on display on the right, but they sponsored a new garden at Barnsdale last year. If my available slot had been larger, I would be displaying their Plant Finder application instead of their outerwear logo. It was also clear when they approached me they'd actually bothered to read my blog and understand what I'm writing about :o

As far as links are concerned, I won't be accepting link exchanges from organisations seeking to improve their SEO, or to simply point you in the direction of websites or blogs dedicated to gaining income from advertising.

I do accept items for review - mainly books so far - and these will be appearing on Sundays in future. Note that my reviews are honest and unbiased, plus I'll always tell you when I've received something for review purposes. I do also accept items for giveaways and competitions as these add some fun to my blog.

It's not my intention to earn pots of money from Veg Plotting (I believe a gardening blog isn't the route to do that anyway) but to try and cover my costs to bring you three posts a week - excluding reviews - of the kind of content that keeps you coming back for more and keeps me sane. At the moment NAH and I are living off our savings in order to care for aging relatives in 3 places over a distance of 250 miles, so anything which helps to eke those out a little further is most helpful.

My placing the Blog with Integrity badge at the top of this post is to assure you I will endeavour to continue to comply with the voluntary code this badge embodies, even though I haven't been displaying it on here previously.

Do feel free to leave your comments below, or you can email me at vegplotting at gmail dot com. And if you ever think I haven't disclosed something that I should, then do please get in touch :)

Update December 2011
: Since I wrote this post I've discovered UK bloggers are now obliged to disclose any relationship they have with a company. This covers products received and reviewed, competitions and advertising. This does not affect the way I run Veg Plotting as operating under the Blog With Integrity code ensures this happens. Unfortunately this change in the law (December 2010) does not seem to have been widely publicised, so many bloggers are unaware of their new obligations. I will be posting about this more fully soon.

18 comments:

  1. i don't see a problem with advertising on blogs. at some point in the lifespan of an active, successful blog monies need to be coming in to keep it going. some do fundraisers, others do adverts. it's not like a person is being forced to read, much less buy, something! (much luck with the aging relatives)

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  2. Petoskystone - and some do both ;)

    Fundraising I'll keep for charities - like my Open Garden blog in 2008 and what we did on Meet @ Malvern last year.

    I forgot to mention blogging costs have kicked in already as you've pointed out in your understanding way.

    I also forgot to mention that adverts that move and/or have music won't be accepted!

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  3. By blogging costs I meant actual costs of having a blog (extra memory, domain names etc) rather than the ones I mentioned in the post re in the course of getting content for it.

    It was also rather nice when my camera broke on Boxing Day (which is almost exclusively used for blogging) to think that I could dip into my advert money to pay for a new one :)

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  4. I'm not sure why people feel the need to justify why they do or don't have adverts. I don't care if you're making thousands of pounds from advertising (I know this is unlikely - good luck to you if you are though!) but you're not forcing me to read the blog or making me click on any ads.

    We all doubtless use plenty of sites that have adverts all over them without any problems so why do people feel it's a problem with a blog? If the content's worth reading it doesn't make any difference if it comes with advertising. Most people will ignore it anyway, I know I will ;>)

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  5. Dear VP, I think its perfectly OK to have ads on blog. I don't understand why some ppl complain about it. They anyway don't gain or loose anything because of that.
    Every blog has its purpose and its owner's decision what suits him/her best. There is simply balance needed.
    BTW in adsense there is pssibility to control what ads are displayed. I block all ads that don't fit the philosophy of my blog.

    Keep on blogging!

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  6. I don't see a problem with adverts, sponsorship or freebies. The only problem comes if you are paid to write complimentary review masquerading as an unbiased opinion - in which case it's what newspapers call 'advertorial' and usually mark it as such.

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  7. Yep, don't worry about it. Wouldn't have noticed if you'd not mentioned it. You've built vegplotting up and get the hits, so take the income. The hit numbers will tell you if the ads add/detract/neither.

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  8. I tried Adsense. Earned nearly nothing, after weeks of irritating ads. It is only possible to block huge categories, like the Lonely Hearts, which finally tipped me to deleting Adsense. Plus, perhaps Ewa doesn't realise that the ads are geared to the country her reader is in. As blog host I have no idea what Esther and VP see on my blog.

    I find the little logo from your sponsor simply adds to your blog. Shows that you have value in their eyes, as well your readers eyes. Besides, somewhere I saw that you are the most popular gardening blog in Britain. Go VP!

    I only desert, never to return, blogs which are three quarters ads, with a tiddly post tucked in as an afterthought!

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  9. I use some people called Digital Spring (www.digital-spring.co.uk)to manage the ads on the website and my own blog. They run related ads from ethically screened advertisers - things like binoculars, safaris etc. Half of the revenue from the ads goes to a bird conservation charity, birdlife.org. I also get discounted rates for any advertising I might want to do inside their network. It's a neat solution to a vexed issue!

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  10. Thanks for raising this issue.
    I was aware that I need to deal with it, in the mental sense, since, young as our blog is, it is growing, takes time and yes does cost. I guess it is part of our business format as garden designers. But I think the time put in (albeit all too willingly) is disproportionate to the business gain and some of the costs do merit some sponsorship. Like you eg, I needed a new camera when I drove over(!!) my old one etc etc. I think I will in time seek some discreet, related sponsorship. Thanks for telling us your approach.
    Best
    R

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  11. RobD - I didn't really think of this as a justification post but just to explain a change in direction. I've been a vocal pro no adverts person in the past, so carrying adverts may have puzzled some of my regular readers.

    Ewa - see EE's later comment which explains further some of my reasons for discounting Adsense.

    Mark - there won't be any 'advertorials' (dreadful word isn't it?) here.

    Sue - I haven't really spotted any difference so far.

    EE - thanks for telling us about your experiences with Adsense. You've confirmed what I've suspected all along. I wish I knew where you'd read I was the most popular gardening blog :)

    Nick - thanks for telling us about what you do. I see that Desert Spring is for charities seeking adverts so won't be an option for most bloggers reading this. However, it looks perfect for people like you.

    Robert - unlike me your business stands to gain from your blogging activites. From talking to other designers it looks like a top Google presence is v important for design businesses these days and your blogging efforts should be helping to keep Heggarty Webber on the front page for the Bristol area. It should be relatively easy to find out how this translates into enquiries, commissions etc?

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  12. I think that you have made a sound decision VP and do not see adverts as being an issue. At the end of the day it is not in your face irrelevant advertising and there is no compulsion for your readers to click. When all it said and done advertising is part of everyday life. Hope that any pennies generated help to sustain your blog. Sympathies re.aging relatives - I have two a similar distance away, same town but under two roofs at the moment. By the way I am probably being dense but what does SEO stand for? My brain is worn out thinking about it.

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  13. Anna - thanks for your good wishes :)

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  14. Oh and SEO = Search Engine Optimisation. It's what businesses do to ensure their website has the best chance of being as high as possible on an internet search return.

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  15. Sorry VP it was months ago, a list of 'British garden blogs'. I remember thinking you deserve to be most visited. Your posts are interesting and interested. Not too long, not too tiddly. Sometimes too British for me, but that is not a criticism, simply an observation from over here ;~)

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  16. Thanks for the SEO explanation - my latest guess was Senior Executive Officer - totally off track :)

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  17. Huge respect for being so up front about what you are doing and why. Not that that is a surprise, your integrity is always clear in how you write and what you write about. Personally I only care about ads if they become intrusive and your blog theme ensures that this is not the case, and it is easy to read your post and not really notice the ads unless you are looking. I hope the ads help you keep the blog going, particularly while you are clearly dealing with a difficult situation re sick relatives.

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  18. EE - thanks for coming back and telling me more. Always good to get some feedback, especially as I've been wondering if I'd got a bit too long and rambling lately.

    Anna - Senior Executive Officer takes me back to my first job!

    Janet - thanks for your understanding. I agonised for ages whether to go down this route.

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