I was paid to write this blog entry…

As someone who works in the blogging and new media space professionally, I’ve spent quite a bit of time keeping an eye on the various approaches companies have taken to helping monetize what we can call social traffic. Many are variations on advertising — including an interesting take on this model (coming soon!) that an unnamed company showed me yesterday over lunch — but others let bloggers parlay their authority and credibility, their “thought or opinion leader” position (as explained in The Tipping Point) into cash.
The two companies that most demonstrate the latter approach are Pay Per Post.com and ReviewMe.com. No surprise, I’ve long ago signed up for both and written about them over the last year or two on my AskDaveTaylor.com site. Mostly I have been intrigued by the ethical aspects of sponsored blog entries, but sometimes it’s worth simply looking at the approach unto itself too.
For bloggers that are starting out or don’t yet have significant reach in their marketplace, PPP is probably the better choice, but ReviewMe is interesting as its approach to calculating the theoretical value of a blog review is based on its own quantitative calculation of the value or importance of a blogger.
Me? On this blog I’m apparently worth $250/review, split 50/50 between them and myself. And so, when I was invited to write a review I decided to jump in and experience the process firsthand.

Yesterday I received an email from ReviewMe explaining that “A review has been ordered to be placed on your blog The Intuitive Life Business Blog. You have three business days to accept!”
It continued: “A review of Nick James has been ordered to be placed on your blog The Intuitive Life Business Blog you have three business days to accept! Click here to review the offer and accept it.”
I clicked, and I accepted, and immediately was struck by what is and isn’t shared with the potential reviewer available during the evaluation process. PR companies commonly send out “reviewers guidelines” or “product fact sheets” when they make products or services available for review, and they’re tremendously helpful because they highlight not only the differentiators for that particular product, but also how the company thinks about its product positioning and core functionality.
Needless to say, reviewers guidelines were missing with the ReviewMe invitation, but even more surprising on a site built around pay-for-reviews was the actual value to me of writing that particular review. I had to email ReviewMe to find that out. Perhaps I should have remembered or realized that I needed to go to the “Manage Reviews” page to find out, but really, that’s a very logical item of information to put on the “accept review assignment?” page.
Instead, you can see the minimal information shared with the potential reviewer in the screenshot a bit further down in this article. Not much for sure.
The worst part about this, of course, is that there’s no way to actually learn about the product desiring a review based simply on a URL. Am I to review Nick himself, or, presumably his event? A bit of detective work revealed that Nick’s going to be offering an Internet Marketing Masterclass in the city of my birth, London, England, on November 8th. Okay, while I can’t attend, I think I can “review” the page, e.g. offer up Nick a nice link and some visibility. I am assuming that’s what he seeks with the ReviewMe invitation.
Digging around in Google a bit further (I searched for “Nick James” internet marketing) I learned that Nick is quite the entrepreneur, with his own web site, a YouTube videos, list of articles he’s published at eZineArticles.com, and more. A busy fellow indeed.

ReviewMe: Blog Review of Nick James: Review Details view

Less information than needed to make a review/don’t review decision

Once I accepted the review offer, there was no additional information from Nick about what he wanted me to review, though I did find out that the ReviewMe guidelines were straightforward, and that, indeed, I’ve certainly met them with this posting:

  1. You must disclose that the post is a paid post in some way. Here are some ideas: “Sponsored Post:”, “The following is a paid review:” “Advertisement:”.
  2. Reviews must be at least 200 words. Use whatever length you feel is appropriate aside from the minimum of 200 words.
  3. Reviews may not contain affiliate links. Any review with affiliate links will be rejected.

Here’s the rub, though: even after all this, I still don’t know what product I’m supposed to review.
Instead, I’ll just go to the event information and see what Nick has to say about his upcoming workshop…
And, finally, I find some useful information. Now I can write about this: he’s actually lined up a good roster of speakers for this event, including John Straw, Kate Burns (formerly with Google UK), Mike Butcher, Steve Parker and Tom Wood, along with – one presumes – Nick himself. The pitch for the event: “The technological revolution is continuing at a rapid pace and will have a massive impact on all businesses. To find out how you can adapt your business and profit from what is being called ‘Business 3.0’ attend the Internet Marketing Masterclass.”
So there you have it, information on what actually sounds like it could be a good event, worth attending if you’re based in the United Kingdom.
Further, this is an interesting example of the challenge of building a marketplace of review requests: without clarity about what you want reviewed, without any sort of “reviewers guidelines” or key talking points, it’s almost impossible for potential reviewers to know how they should best proceed. In this instance, I have to say that reviewing the announcement of an event is tantamount to reviewing a product by just reading the spec sheet. Not very satisfying or informative for anyone and certainly not an interesting review from the reviewer’s perspective.
And the $125 I should theoretically be paid for this “review”? It’ll take my family out for a nice dinner once it arrives in my Paypal account. Thanks Nick. 🙂

One comment on “I was paid to write this blog entry…

  1. Really interesting…
    I have a few friends writing Pay Per Post posts now and then, and they usually do a good enough job to make me interested in the subject.
    I do have to agree that reviewing a class that hasn’t happen yet is kind of strange… maybe we need a “Pay Per Announcement” website…

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