The ethics of traditional journalism forbid the practice of trading favorable copy for money, goods or services. Should the same code of ethics apply to bloggers? Blogger Ben Kunz offered a lighthearted take on this question in BusinessWeek. On his blog Thought Gadgets, Kunz makes the case that it’s not purely an ethical proposition — the perception of independence is essential for a blogger who wants to appear credible to his or her audience. Kunz writes, “[I]f your intended reader or constituent or client thinks your mind is being bought, that recipient will think less of your opinions. In the long run this erodes trust in you, trust in the advertiser, and may limit future, larger business opportunities.”
For Kunz, this rules out pay-to-post as a blogging business model. Does this mean that bloggers can only rely on search and display ads as a revenue source? Not necessarily — blogging expertise itself is becoming salable as more and more corporations. Many of the blogs we link to in SmartBrief on Social Media are basically front doors for consulting services. Even bloggers who aren’t looking to advise companies on blogging strategies can find business opportunities in their area of expertise.