People always ask me how they can make money writing a blog. The question is like someone back in 1870, a few years after the invention of the telephone, asking how someone can make money dialing a telephone call. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, it’s the message not the medium.
Interactive advertising is playing an dangerous dance with the bloggers with initiatives such as Marqui that blur the independence of the writers. Affiliate marketing is something that is also unique to the internet and has the potential to tempt bloggers looking for a quick buck. Affiliate programs such as Amazon’s Associate Program pay for purchases that originate via a link on your site. It’s an great solution for spiffing someone that sends business your way but it can be abused at the expense of editorial vision.
There is a whole industry that is growing up around the work-at-home industry of affiliate marketing websites and now there is even a blogging client that will help you compose your text while inserting affiliate links as needed to stress your point and boost your revenue. One hopes that the search folks will keep their spiders groomed so that blatantly advertorial posts will fall off the bottom of the Google & Technorati rankings and keep things relevant but I’m afraid that the capitalistic urge to harvest click-throughs will prevail until we raise the cost of such behavior or the public ceases to buy into tangential links. The fact that there are still so many infomercial programs on television doesn’t provide much hope for any change in the public’s support of such behavior.