Finances & Money

Did I sell out by doing a ReviewMe post?

I make this short and to the point. I did my first paid review of something yesterday. I wasn’t sure if I should do it because of conflicting views from other writers and readers about the validity of these posts, and whether it ruins the relationship and trust with the writer who got paid for it.

I did the post because I knew I could give my honest opinion about a fellow writer’s site. I have stated before that I ONLY write about things I feel I can be honest about. If you know me personally, which some of you do, you know I am very straightforward, and I only use the minimum of tact when criticizing someone, usually to their dismay. Heck, I told my boss’s boss he was being rude by always answering his cellphone in the middle of a conversation with people.

In fact, today I was excited to see my first direct ad sale inquiry in my email inbox, but then I found out it was for a payday loan site. I politely rejected the request, even though I’m sure it would have doubled my monthly site income. But I know I couldn’t honestly sell an ad for a payday loan site on Clever Dude. actually just did a post today to ask for people’s opinions. However, I want your opinions.

Has my sponsored posting changed your opinions and trust of me? Do you think I was biased in my review?

Be honest, but criticize constructively please.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I think it’s possible to do paid reviews without completely selling out, as long as the reviews are on-topic and you clearly disclose that you were paid. You do have to walk a fine line though. While the review you did about the debt consolidation site was on-topic, considering you write frequently about personal finance, I’d consider debt consolidation to be a very “spammy” industry loaded with low quality sites.

    I didn’t click through to the site you reviewed, and because of my low opinion of most debt consolidation sites, I assumed your generally positive review was influenced by the fact that you were paid. Reading here that you turned down the payday loan ad does restore your credibility a bit in my eyes.

  • Don’t know if you caught the whole boingboing/lifehacker reviewme fiasco a few days ago, but it was quite refreshing to see sites taking their integrity seriously. I was quite annoyed to see your reviewme post yesterday. I haven’t been a cleverdude reader for long, and it looks like it will stay that way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I definitely understand that we all have to make money, but this seems penny wise pound foolish to me. The blogging world is a quite crowded place, and many readers don’t care to hassle with a site that has a compromised journalistic integrity (whatever you say about being impartial in the review, if nothing else it clutters your site with such reviews as “debt consolidation sites.” it’s not like i don’t see enough ads for that in my spam box or in google ads. what’s next, a site that promises an another six inches?)

    My two cents are that taking the moral high road would yield a much greater payoff in the long run. More users coming for the content would mean more ad revenue. I highly doubt boingboing and lifehacker would be anywhere near as successful had they sold space on their sites. As I mentioned, readers are certainly not at a loss for space in their RSS inboxes or online reading, and I’ve already turned my interests elsewhere.

    Again, you and others might certainly disagree with me and that’s fine. Certainly not trying to flame. Just giving my honest take. Thanks for the work, but I’m moving on. No hard feelings 🙂

  • I guess in the review I should have said the site has nothing to do with debt consolidation, just the name.

    That site is another personal finance blog that has some good content. If it was a real debt consolidation site, I would have passed on it. Perhaps I didn’t think about how you, the reader, would instantly disregard the site by the name.

    I guess I could also have added in the criticism that they’re capitalizing on a searchable term in their blog name when they don’t have very many posts on the topic.

    Thanks for the feedback though!

  • […] is so much negativity about the paid content business model that I figure it’s best to pass. Clever Dude was motivated by a post on ProBlogger to ask his readers if they mind him doing paid posts. […]

  • I don’t have any problem with you doing paid reviews. Especially if you keep them on topic and disclose they are paid reviews. Wouldn’t want to see them too often though. I haven’t monetized my blog yet and I probably won’t do paid posts on it but I have done paid posts on my other blogs.

  • Mike,

    honestly, since I am a web designer myself, being able to post something for money sounds like a great idea.

    Considering this site is merely and strictly your opinion, I would consider you would throw that in your review, therefore regardless of the topic it stays within this sites boundaries.

    This site is for your opinion, thats why I read it, it may not be on topic with anything else, but I respect your opinion and ideas so it would just be another post I probably wouldn’t click on.


  • OK, I actually checked out the site now. The blog you reviewed is a property of BizNicheMedia. In this blog post they lay out the basics of their business plan, which includes:

    “Publish content only in very highly profitable sectors…”

    “Hire writers in developing countries at a significantly lower cost…”

    “Prioritize content volume over quality (while still trying to maintain a reasonable standard of quality)”

    They’re essentially cashing in on high paying adsense keywords by building a bunch of blogs with content by low-paid third-world writers. The network is run by some smart people whose names you may have heard (Google it if you’re interested), and I’m sure they’re smart enough to take down the adsense ads before they buy reviews or publish good linkbait. Still, it’s pretty clear (by their own admission) that the focus of the network is keywords and adsense, not quality content.

  • […] Wednesday, I decided to accept my first ReviewMe offer and write about another blog. The site had good content, but a poor name choice (except for pagerank purposes). However, there’s a lot of controversy around being paid to write articles, so I asked your opinion. […]

  • I think as long as you let your readers know that you are being paid for the review, then there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s kind of like those sections in magazines that have the word “advertisement” in italics at the top of the page of what looks to be an article.

  • I figure if you tell people it is a paid post and you’re honest it’s not a big deal. You give your opinion when you write regular posts, as long as it’s on-topic, I don’t see why it’s any different than a non-paid post.

  • I concur with others. As long as it is disclosed that it is a paid review up front and are honest about the review I don’t have a problem with it.

    Since a lot of the blogosphere is bloggers with small blogs hoping to do the same thing, I doubt you will get much resistance on paid reviews.

    Just my two cents.

    PS – I don’t have a big enough readership yet, but I haven’t decided for or against paid reviews yet.

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