I received a kind of monetization offer for this blog today, one that I hadn’t encountered before: a service that would pay me to put up articles that they would provide. The kicker would be the links at the bottom of these articles (no porn or gambling, they assured).
I’ve had requests for advertising before, but this is different. The impression given is that the articles would not themselves be ads, that only the links at the end would be. They claim that the content is “professionally produced” and that I could select from pieces relevant to my audience… I’m rather skeptical that they could provide good content, although it’s possible that they’ve secured rights to articles produced elsewhere that could be reprinted (they don’t say anything about attribution). That’s the better option, but the more realistic one is that they likely have articles of approximately content-farm quality.
Although I don’t know what kind of traffic I get, I’m pretty sure it’s not significant enough to warrant the expense, even if that’s minimal, of both getting articles and paying me to post them. Wonderful, erudite, and delightful as my readers are, I don’t think advertisers would be so eager to go after you directly—and if they were, they would presumably just offer me money to put ads up without going through the content provision rigmarole. No, this seems like one of the black disciplines of search engine optimization: this site has a good reputation in the eyes of search engines, and by placing links in what would appear to be typical posts the service could piggyback off of that reputation to boost the search rankings of whatever sites they’re linking to. So they’re paid by sites to boost search rankings, and they pay sites with reasonable reputations/ranks to post articles designed to achieve that aim.
It’s possible that they’re combining this idea with “article spinning”, a method of seeding multiple sites with text content that’s essentially the same but which has had its wording altered so as to appear different, but that’s speculation on my part. (A friend of mine has been the victim of a variant of this, where his ad-free personal blog was copied verbatim on another site, except the other site had ads on it that someone else was profiting off, but that’s more like a straight rip-off, unless they were adding links into his content as well as surrounding it by ads.)
I have no interest in the offer, of course. Even if they weren’t gaming the search engines, and even if the content were actually of high quality, I wouldn’t be interested. I’ve vaguely considered advertising at various points, but it doesn’t seem worth it, and putting up content that isn’t mine would simply feel wrong. It might be different if this blog were based on some theme, in which case relevant content might be reasonable, but the theme is essentially “whatever I feel like writing about”, so content from others is rather unlikely to fit.
I suppose I probably should have asked how much they were offering, though, out of curiosity, as I have no clue whatsoever what rates for these things are like.