When I first started blogging for real in January of 2014, meaning consistently blogging once per week, one of my long term goals at the time was to directly monetize my blog, primarily through sponsorship. I no longer have that goal and here’s why. I don’t want outside pressure to taint what I say, or don’t say. Whether I’m doing a product review, sharing my opinion during an interview or recommending a procedure, I do not want to create any perception of dishonesty because an outside company is paying me. Having sponsors on your platform (blog, podcast, magazine, etc.) does not make you someone who is bought and paid for, but perception is reality for many people and that will, in my opinion, reduce the effectiveness of your message. For example, I was reading an article about topical anesthesia in a dental hygiene magazine and to the right was a full page ad for Oraqix. Coincidence? Maybe, but either way, it taints the effectiveness of the article which was recommending topical anesthesia.
But what if I only allow sponsors that I fully agree with? Even that doesn’t quite work. Let’s say company A makes your favorite prophy paste which you’ve been using for 5 years. You then sign a 1 year contract with them to advertise on your podcast. During that year you discover a better prophy paste from company B. Now what? Do you cancel the contract? Do you maintain the contract and continue to say, “company A’s prophy paste is the best” on your podcast? Do you intentionally not mention the new prophy paste you discovered and are now using?
Let’s change the scenario a bit. Let’s say you still believe company A’s prophy paste is the best, but not perfect, like most things in life. Will the sponsor allow you to mention the one negative thought you have about the product? Will you mention it, but sugar coat it to the point where it no longer sounds like a negative?
Many people will claim to be 100% honest about their sponsors, but that’s almost always not true. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (The Fighter and the Kid) some months ago and they were reading a spot for one of their sponsors DraftKings, which is an online fantasy sports gambling site. Later in the very same podcast, Brendan Schaub, one of the hosts, and I’m paraphrasing here, basically shat on people who gamble online. Did he lose some credibility in my eyes that day? Absolutely. He, like many people in the podcast world, often claims to only advertise products he truly believes in. Well, apparently, that’s not quite true.
I think the only person who is completely (and brutally) honest about his sponsors is comedian Bill Burr. Listen to him in the 3 minute video below for a typical example. It’s funny. 99.9% of people are not willing to do what Bill Burr does to his sponsors, which of course explains why he loses many of them! I guess honesty is a bitch sometimes.
My blog will remain brutally honest and sponsor free. What I write and say is 100% me, good or bad. You’re welcome : ).
Bill Burr reading a spot for Shari’s Berries. He loses it at 1:15.
Mark Frias, RDH