On-Message/Off-Message

After a few months of blogging, I had a frank phone chat with Steph at Back in Skinny Jeans (one of the first blogs I’d ever read religiously) about paid advertising and blogging.

She’s fantastic and I might be speaking with her on a panel at the BlogHer 2009 Conference … still waiting to hear!

Anyway, we talked about being true and authentic to yourself, and how blogging gives you the opportunity to make 100 percent of your own decisions. You’re your own boss, your own editor … the content is yours to decide upon, the images, the timing … it’s all up to you.

This means you can choose to accept advertising … or not. You can choose to accept guest posts … or not.

I expressed my interest in Google AdSense, but the more we talked about it, the more I realized it would be counter-productive to my blog. She noted how, using it, you don’t have control over what ads float on the blog … so sometimes she’d get ads for quick weight loss products, and it was totally off-message from her blog.

Since my blog is a recovery blog, the last thing I want to do is have ads like that popping up.

Along those lines, recently, I’ve been contacted to do some product and book reviews, all of which have been on-message with my blog (Monica Seles’s book review is next). I’ve genuinely appreciated the outreach and since I do PR for a living, I’ve been impressed with how social media has really changed our field and made it, in many respects, less formal and more exciting.

That said, I’ve also had to turn down some opportunities, which meant in one case turning down someone’s desire to write a guest post on my blog.

Why? Well, the topic was off-message for me. But even beyond that, when I began, I made the decision that since this is my journey, I will write 100 percent of the content … which means, by default, no guest posts.

As a disclaimer, I’ve done guest posts on other blogs, and was grateful for each of those opportunities.

And so I realize my self-imposed rule might alienate me from some bloggers … but I just feel very strongly about keeping this blog the verbal account of my authentic self. If my blog were more general, perhaps having other voices would be a good thing. But for now, this is my story and I’m sticking to it 🙂

In another instance, it meant turning down money. In this economy, who does that? But here’s my argument: I need to remain true to the audience and purpose of my blog … and making money simply isn’t on that agenda.

The product I was being asked to help promote — while fun and awesome (jewerly, and no, not Lia Sophia, which I sell on the side) — just wasn’t on message. And so I had a really nice chat back and forth with the person who reached out to me, who understood my position.

Someday I hope my writing will lead to something (Glamour, Self, Shape, Oprah, Oxygen, Health, Women’s Fitness … are you listening?!) but ultimately, I need to stay true to my readers and my purpose.

It’s not always easy to say no (especially when the rewards are tempting) … but staying on message is really important to me, as a writer, as a blogger, and as a PR professional in real life.

How about you? Have you had to take a stand on something you really believe in recently that you’d care to share, blogging-related or otherwise?

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12 thoughts on “On-Message/Off-Message

  1. I like the fact that your site has no ads. It just goes to show that you’re doing this cause you love it, not because you want to make money or something. I respect that.

  2. I like the fact that you make sure that your blog is on topic and true to your message. Guest posts are great but if they don’t mesh with what you have to say or help you achieve your goals for blogging, then forget it. It does not matter how nice or smart or popular the blogger might be, it is just your blog. That is the cool part about blogs. Good post.

  3. Well, I did turn down that free case of POM juice that company was sending out several months ago. But I don’t attribute it so much to high moral standing so much as general apathy about pomegranate juice and an antipathy toward boring things (I knew everyone would be blogging about that juice within the next few weeks).

    I appreciate the fact that you are sticking to your guns, here. Just keep doing what makes sense for *you* and *your* blog :).

  4. I have been writing my blog for about 8 months now and it has really changed over time. With time, I became very open about my binge eating disorder and what I noticed is that it makes me a “less popular” blogger in the food journal blogging community. I often wonder why that is and it makes me sad that people walk through life not willing to admit they have issues. And come on, let’s face it, taking pictures of everything you eat is not “normal” so it makes me sad that certain bloggers shy away from my blog. I’m not saying that all food journal bloggers have an ED but I do think there are many that just aren’t open about it. It makes me wonder if my blog is that whole “guilt by association” thing.

    I recently took a stand on my blog about comments also. I would write about things about binging, abuse, my brothers death and people would leave comments about how yummy my food looks instead of compassionate comments about my struggles. Those sort of comments felt very insensitive to me and so I got on my soap box about it and my traffic and commenting dropped even more.

    Anyway, I do run a foodbuzz ad on my blog and have from almost the beginning. I don’t make a huge sum of money doing it so anyone who assumes that I do it for the money would be very wrong. I don’t even earn enough to put gas in my Prius for a week 😀 But, there are bloggers that do blog for the money and for the money only. I blog for my wellbeing and for the support that I DO receive those who read and can relate to me and my story. So, even though I get paid to blog, I do stay true to myself. One of the ways that I do that is my not reading/commenting on blogs that I can’t relate to or the ones that make me feel insecure about myself. As an overweight binge eater, I really don’t want to see chicks in their bikinis so I just don’t read those 😀

    Wow. That was a bit of a soap box, too. Glad I got that out.

  5. Good for you for sticking to what you believe in. I have noticed ads on some blogs and also realize that for some people their blog is their “full time job” so maybe the chance to earn some money is more important. I would HATE to see “diet gimmicks” ads on any healthy eating/food related blogs.

    I am amazed at how many bloggers get sent huge boxes of food from manufacturers large and small and even free trips!. Social media really has changed the PR/Marketing world.

    Beadie-great points and I agree with you that many food bloggers might be on the ED spectrum and either not ‘fessing up to it or maybe not even aware of it themselves. Particularly Orthoerexia which is a very real “disorder” whether or not it is an officially regcongized diagnosis.

  6. Glad that my Yoda like advice was helpful 🙂 I’m very proud that you are sticking to what is authentic…to you. This is important for long term success and satisfaction, and yes it is NOT easy but SO worth sticking to.

    I’m constantly in battle between the ads and editorial. But, I’ve been clear from almost day one that Back in Skinny Jeans is something that is both sharing a piece of me but also something I make a living from. And who knows that could change.

    The ads from the ad networks do conflict often with my message, and I’m in a catch-22 situation, but I make those concessions, and luckily my audience is patient, not always, but for the most part they are I think too because I’m one of the first to make a cross between the fluff in magazines and real life.

    And blogs change over time. BISJ started just as a place for me to just unload, and now it’s taken me to places I never even imagined like all this success on Twitter.

    The point is to follow your heart always and be authentically you, and do what feels right inside. For everything you turn down that’s not a fit, you’re telling the universe, “Nope I’m willing to hold out for the best.” And in time, it will come 🙂

  7. Thanks, everyone! Glad to know you can see/appreciate why there’s no ads here.

    Hi Beadie, it sounds like you’ve defintiely experienced the ups and downs of blogging. The primary audience of a blog is really you, the author … I do think about my readers, naturally, but in reality, a blog is yours to own. If people don’t like it, tough. But we also can’t have expectations. There are people I’ve not been in as close contact with because of my blog; it makes me terribly sad, but there’s not much I can do about it. It’s my words, my thoughts … And like you, I DO think some food bloggers have DE behaviors, even though they might say journaling is a DE behavior, and that photos is similar. Who knows, but it does tend to magnify an obsession …

    I know some bloggers do it for a living and I think that’s awesome — if my blog were a more general blog, or a food blog, or a fashion or fitness blog, maybe it would be relevant. But it’s not here.

    I wonder how they get it, too — probably FoodBuzz? Either way, I’m jealous — would love to review healthy products. I see the packages Missy, Jenna, Kath, Roni, etc., get- so cool! But my blog isn’t really product-driven so it is not really related.

    And thanks for bringing up orthorexia — I did a post about it a while ago, and I totally see that in the blogosphere.

    Hey Steph! Your words have resonated; thank you!! You absolutely have been clear about how blogging is your source of income and I admire it a ton. I love your presence on Twitter. I love that advice, follow your heart. Thanks for inspiring me, then and now 🙂

  8. Just to follow up something Beadie said about bloggers and DE/ED. I stumbled across a blog yesterday that has a heavy ED recovery focus. In the comments section there was a post from a blogger who’s blog I read regularly but have never seen any mention of ED/DE on there. Quite the contrary, always stuff about how she is all about moderation, enjoying food and many laud her for her healthy eats and mindset. Well there in the comments section was a post about how she struggles with DE and weight/body image etc despite being very thin. I was shocked to say the least and while I would never “out” someone and I believe people should only disclose on their blogs what they are comfortable–at the same time I find it somewhat hypocritical.

  9. I would be very curious to know who that blogger is, but I respect your wishes not to “out” someone. I think orthorexia is a big-time problem for many food bloggers, even though they might not realize it. I also think it’s hypocritical if it’s not the truth … I believe our fallacies make us human, relatable … foibles and all.

  10. Lara,

    I have to say, I am not surprised at all. I get emails ALL THE TIME from “regular” food journal bloggers opening up about their behaviors that they don’t talk about on their blogs. One in particular even makes jokes on her blog about binging when in reality, she is bulimic. It is really sad.

    I do admit to being curious about who the commenter was but I am more curious about which blog you stumbled on. I am always looking for more blogs to read that I can relate to.

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