The Perils of Problogging

There seems to be a rift between personal blogging and professional blogging (aka problogging). In Shari’s recent post, where she compares blogging in the past and present, commenters seem to imply that running advertisements on their blogs as well as people who start blogs for the sole purpose of blogging is a miserable example of how desperate people are to earn money. Worse, at least one commenter believes blogging is not hard work, and that if you don’t exert (physical?) effort (hindi pinagpaguran) into a job, then the money isn’t well-earned.

I don’t think problogging is evil, nor the antithesis of personal blogging. Placing ads on blogs to write off the maintenance costs of (yearly) domain registration and hosting fees is one good use of problogging-earned money; any type of blog can benefit from that.

Let me just stress that making your money work for you with little to no marginal effort is not a bad thing either. The most successful people on Earth work smarter, not just harder. If people can invest in stocks and franchises, why not in blogs?

Also, “effort” is relative. Good, successful blogs require dedication (to satisfy the thirst of your readers), skill (to communicate clearly to your readers), and a fair amount of goodness (more about this later). Without these, professional blogs turn sour. Here are the most common reasons:

Bad Advertising/Monetization Choices

Do people actually mind the full-page ads of Cartier, Gap, Calvin Klein, etc. that fill up more than two-thirds of fashion magazines? No, because they’re easy on the eye and fashionable, that is, useful to the readers.

The same idea should be applied to online ads: choose ones you think readers would find useful. Text ads like Google Adsense and Text Link Ads are less tacky and more intelligent (“contextual”) compared to animated banners—“YOU WON A PRIZE” with a thousand exclamation points, neon flashing colors, and spyware—but anybody eager to earn more cash can slap both on, and in all the wrong places.

Then there are the referral/networking/affiliate schemes (find out what Agloco really does). These make it completely obvious that you are not trying to be fashionable, that is, useful to your blog reader.

Boring, Insensitive Content

I get tired of reading soulless, insensitive blog posts that lack motivation other than money. Best examples are the sponsored reviews courtesy of ReviewMe, PayPerPost, or that Acer Ferrari laptop bundled with Windows Vista. People won’t fault you for fully disclosing you were paid to write about a product, but if that “laser surgery” review is so out of place in between “I went to the mall” and “pictures of my cat” posts, do you have to wonder why you will lose returning visitors?

Of course, plagiarism is out of the question. With the abundance of article sites out there, amateur probloggers (what a paradoxical term!) think they can get away with posting unoriginal content, an especially attractive tactic since minimal effort is required.

Less subtle are those from the more professional-looking sites that churn out dozens of posts a week. These are predictable posts with a straight-up formula: announce the gist of the post, quote a snippet from the source (e.g. CNN, boingboing,, Slashdot, CNet, etc.), and provide the link out. How are these posts any better than the aforementioned sponsored posts? Especially if the blog, although professional-looking, are not the foremost authority on the subject, only another echo in the chamber?

If you call yourself a writer because you are a blogger, then live up to the expectations of your readers. More so if you make money off them.

Giving Blogs a Bad Name

The popularity of blogs, coupled with its potential to draw convert visitor traffic into profit, has also led to the make-money-online bubble. This is becoming a turn-off for those who believe blogs are better defined as online personas rather than money mills. Art for art’s sake versus all about the benjamins. Idealism versus practicality. Good versus evil…?

Even if money is the root of all evil, you aren’t necessarily giving up the good side of the force when you become a problogger. Blogging smart is blogging useful and ethical entries, not misleading or lazy ones.

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