There was a bit of buzz last week about Forbes' most recent announcement of a new (presumably) revenue share for its old (presumably) blogger network. Then the New York Times has been weighing in with "So You Want to Be a Blogging Star" and "Why Blog: Reason #92 Book Deal." about the $300K book advance to the guy who launched, StuffWhitePeopleLike (don't you think Christian Lander in bow tie looks a bit like a young P.J O'Rourke? and am I getting old but doesn't the site scream Spy Magazine? Note to Lander: create a regular post called "Separated at Birth" which would link White People with their Of Color Counterparts... like Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton in that new Al Gore commercial.)
But blogger networks and book deals are old hat. We're hearing about much more interesting - and lucrative - deals with major business bloggers, and while we're not at liberty to disclose who and for how much, let's just say that if your blog is about business and is getting something north of a few thousand visitors a day, companies might be calling.
And it's not about the eyeballs, exactly. The new deals to which I refer are "bigger picture": they involve a blogger establishing a special relationship with a particular brand to help foster buzz and to consult about the brand's image and reputation in the blogger's world. They involve tens and, in some cases, tens of tens of thousands of dollars in direct compensation, not online ad revenue, which represents a whole new level of blogger income.
And it's about time, in our humble. If increasingly online e-commerce of one kind or another begins to be the principal store for a variety of products and services, and as "trusted networks" being to trump search in authority, why not create a program using valuable mentions ("I'll be appearing at Company XYZ's end-user conference"), cross-branding or subscriber outreach deal with a leading blogger covering your "space." Think of it as "point of sale" promotion, with more impact and authority than banners and more lucrative, by far, than Google ad sense.
The political campaigns started doing this a couple of years ago, and occasionally there were rumblings - from other bloggers, naturally - about the appropriateness or ethics of such arrangements. But your neighborhood blogger does need to eat, of course, and in the btob space, most bloggers are leading consultants anyway, so hiring them for their consulting capability makes perfect sense.
Or not? What are your views on this? What are the rules of disclosure? And what lines, if any, need to be drawn?