It was all Colin‘s fault, or at least I’ve decided to make it his fault. During the Nomadic Marketing course our group was asked to outline a brief online marketing strategy for getting our client into the internet limelight. Obviously, blogging formed a part of our strategy and a question that Colin Daniels publisher of The Times Online) put to us was whether we would let our contributing bloggers earn money by blogging about us. Not surprisingly, many of us answered no. It seems to be accepted that bloggers do what they do for the love of it and not for the money. Sure, some bloggers do make money from sponsors or Adsense, but for the average blogger, their corner of the net is not bringing in big bucks. SocialSpark, a new blogger marketing site looks set to change all that…
SocialSpark is a Marketing Network that connects advertisers and bloggers through an online advertising marketplace. Advertisers are able to target blogs based on conversational topics and make cash sponsorship offers to the bloggers who publish them. Bloggers can make money by blogging by either placing display advertisements on their blog or by writing sponsored content. At first glance, the site operates much like an online affiliate program which promotes a specific advertisers brand by encouraging bloggers to do write about products. Once a blogger has written his or her post, this post must first be approved by the SocialSpark team before the blogger gets paid. Bloggers are presented with a host of ‘opportunities’ that they can apply for. Each opportunity has a list of criteria that the applicant needs to meet first, as well as the amount that the blogger will earn should their application be successful.
The first flag that was raised when I’d grasped the concept of the system was that there would be a major conflict of interests when it came down to the content that bloggers were publishing. SocialSpark has addressed this by insisting that all posts are first approved by them and that bloggers display a Social Spark badge that shows the post in question was specifically drafted for Social Spark and that it was a paid advertisement.
The SS team also insist that bloggers mention their code of contact, which stipulates that SocialSpark is 100% auditable in post disclosure, that they strive for 100% transparency, are in search of 100% real opinions and very importantly for many blogger is that they are 100% search engine friendly.
I’ve just signed up for the service to give it a test run, and if it looks like I could actually make money blogging then I’ll be the brand’s biggest evangelist. With clients ranging from Reader’s Digest to VO5 already latching on to the concept, it looks like the service is set to take of in the near future.
SocialSpark is currently still in Beta, so I guess a few kinks in the system are to be expected but from what I’ve seen, the service is well thought out and the platform well designed. Izea, the folks behind the excellent Zookoda blogger mailing service are the brains responsible for developing the paid blogging service, and on those grounds alone I’m tempted to be optimistic about the service (If you’re looking for a free mailing service for your blog, then be sure to check out Zookoda asap)
Once I’ve had some more time to play with the platform, I’ll drop another post here letting you know what it’s like from a blogger’s perspective and later from that of an advertiser. Till then, keep on keeping on.