Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked


April 9, 2007

Get Rich or Blog Tryin'

Gelf talks with blogger and stay-at-home mom Laura Neiman, who's more than happy to mention sponsors' products in her blog if it helps pay the bills.

Hadley Robinson

On March 19, the LA Times ran an article about PayPerPost, a website that pays bloggers to write about certain companies. The companies put up notices about posts they want written about certain products; approved bloggers can browse around and try to pick up a job. PayPerPost calls the bloggers "posties"; the jobs are "opportunities."

Blogger Laura Neiman with one of her kids in the backseat
"We need the money. I wouldn't ever tell anybody how to make money or spend it so it bothers me that people criticize so much."

Blogger Laura Neiman with one of her kids in the backseat

Although the story in the Times focused on PayPerPost, there are at least five other sites doing the same thing, a few of which have opened just in the last month. Some sites require that a blogger say something positive in their mention of the product, but others allow any mention at all. Any press is good press, it seems.

PayPerPost is starting to learn whether the same holds true for its own business. A recent post on Slashdot commenting on the issue sparked a lot of debate. One comment called sponsored content "consumer fraud," and another said it was "deliberately looting, burning and polluting that medium for some company's profit." Readers argued over internet regulation, disclosure, and, of course, whether the concept is right or wrong.

One of the women mentioned in the LA Times story that ignited the controversy was Laura Neiman, a Colorado stay-at-home mother of five. Neiman uses mostly PayPerPost but has begun writing for two other sites: PayU2blog and LoudLaunch. She has no qualms about being paid to promote products in her blog, Lalagirl: Twintimate Chaos, which she usually updates five to 15 times a day. On average the blog has 330 to 350 visitors daily. (Neiman says that's up from a 220 average before the LA Times piece. She's also thinks a link in a comment on the Slashdot post has increased traffic.)

Gelf caught up with Neiman as she was driving home from Wal-Mart with her kids and a friend in tow. We talked about her reaction to the article, the products she will and won't blog about, and what she thinks about the criticism she's gotten. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.

Gelf Magazine: What'd you think of the LA Times piece?

Laura Neiman: I didn't have a problem with the article. I know the other lady who was featured, Colleen [Caldwell]. I kind of was expecting her to say the things she said. I don't have a problem with the idea of sponsored content.
[Editors Note: In the Times story, Caldwell says that she writes honestly in her blog and wants to maintain credibility. "People talk about how we're destroying the credibility of the Internet," she says. "Let me tell you—there are a lot worse things happening online."]

GM: Did you get feedback from anybody about the article?

LN: I got one comment that was kind of rude. I think the exact words were, "You have no shame. Can't you find a way to whore yourself out less publicly?" I didn't publish the comment because they didn't leave the name and email. The way I feel about it is if you can't stand behind your words, I'm not putting you on my site. I think the whole thing is just ridiculous. People don't have a problem with paid sponsors on ads on TV. I think the whole thing is silly. I guess in a way I can kind of see their point. I'm from the other side, so I know I'm not an unethical person. Maybe some people are writing about it just because they're being paid for it. I only write about things that I can relate to and things that are relevant to me and my family. I never write it like ad copy. I try to tell a little story. I write about things that I'm pretty much writing about anyway.

GM: How'd you begin using PayPerPost and other similar sites?

LN: Colleen heard about it from Business Week and she mentioned it to me because I'm a mommy and we're completely broke and I'm online anyway. Since then I've noticed there are a ton more companies. Every other week I hear about a new one. I think they all kind of have their pros and cons. There are so many people doing it now that it's complicated. It seems PayPerPost is going through some growing pains, like issues with the site and the staff being so crazy busy that they take a long time to get back to people about questions they have.

GM: Do you think you will drop them?

LN: I don't see myself ever dropping PPP entirely. I like them, and I feel a certain sense of loyalty since I've been around almost from the start. Of course, I'll follow whatever opportunity is the best fit for me and my family. I'm not ruling anything out.

Laura Neiman

Laura Neiman poses as she shops with two of her five children. Photo courtesy Laura Neiman.

GM: Is it hard to find a way to connect your blog to the product you are promoting?

LN: I always pick ones that I can write something about. There's one up for a black dating site. I didn't take that one but I have so many friends who have written about it and I think it's funny because they aren't black and aren't dating anybody who's black. I pick stuff that is about things I know. I need to keep a little credibility.

GM: Are your reviews always positive?

LN: I've never posted something really bad. I might write that their site is hard to navigate or something like that. It's not to say I wouldn't, because I post my honest opinions and experiences.

GM: You don't have a problem with sponsored content?

LN: I don't have a problem with the way I do it. I'm sure other people are more sketchy or shady about it. We need the money. I wouldn't ever tell anybody how to make money or spend it so it bothers me that people criticize so much.

Related on the web

Gelf isn't the first to use this headline about PayPer Post; last September, Stale Betty used it in a post touting the money-making option for bloggers.

Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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Article by Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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