Greetings dear readers.
I prefer to focus my time on producing content, so it distresses me to make another one of these this year. The good news is as of right now, I’m still creating content, with Fiction Fridays at least continuing for the next few months.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH WORDPRESS?
The bad news is that WordPress is very suddenly testing a deceptive new feature called “sponsored content” in several places, including this blog. This is a practice of making a fake blog post which is actually an advertisement that is incorporated into one’s blog feed.
Readers are more likely to click on it for two reasons:
1) because it is formatted and styled just like a regular post
2) or because some bloggers do get paid to create and post specific content, which in some cases may still be of use or interest to their readers
DO I EVER CREATE SPONSORED POSTS? (NO! NEVER!)
For this blog, I do NOT do any sponsored posts. At times I accept free review copies of books that interest me, but always with the understanding that I may not write a favorable review. These posts where I get free review copies are ALWAYS labeled as such. I even mark books to indicate if I got them at the library, purchased them myself, or received them as a gift. At times I might refer to or collaborate with others and these posts are ALWAYS LABELED.
WHY DON’T I JUST MONETIZE THIS BLOG?
Before creating this blog, I spent a lot of time considering various platforms and plans. I wanted something that was easy both for me to create and for readers to navigate. Since I knew content for a variety of ages would be included, having good sorting and searching options was key. Hosting pictures within the service was a bonus since I don’t want to open more social media accounts.
I very deliberately chose WordPress because it was simple, easy to use, had generous storage, didn’t require a separate domain, and was a reputable longstanding company. I very deliberately chose NOT to get a paid account.
A paid account comes with lots of extra widgets and data and storage and tracking. A monthly paid account is about the cost of a meal in either cheap home cook form (paid account) or decent fast food dinner form (premium paid account), which is a very reasonable monthly price. But a paid account is also subject to closure if not paid. Realistically, even before the pandemic, I knew that life situations might arise where I might not have the extra money to spare to continue paying for a hobby like this blog.
I don’t need extra widgets or storage or even data (although I want to nerd over it). I do need to keep my focus on reading books and writing about them in order to create effective content. This account has allowed me to do that. Although I don’t directly bring money to WordPress, my content draws viewers onto the platform from various search engines and links around the web.
But having fake “sponsored” content added to the blog was not something I’d ever considered in this plan. It directly undermines the credibility of my work.
WordPress does theoretically prevent certain kinds of advertising. However when I am logged in to my account working on the blog, I don’t see most advertising, so I am not aware to report it. And advertising might be targeted to a certain user or IP. Certainly when I have logged in on library computers (back when libraries were open), the regular advertising was very different.
Honestly, I’m not sure. I have made a substantial commitment to this platform and have literally hundreds of draft posts in addition to the previously published posts you see. That is not to mention the hours spent tagging, linking within the blog, creating pages, editing photographs and creating captions.
Beyond the time commitment of moving several years backlog of posts and essentially rewriting all the details, I don’t know of another option which offers the same things. And I hesitate to lose the followers, links, and optimization that I’ve built up over the last five years.
2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for many people in many ways, including my family. We are starting an important religious and cultural holiday season. It was very dismaying to check that my scheduled posts were proceeding correctly and instead see a fake “sponsored post” advertisement. It seems a waste to have to write this post instead of a review. For now I will give WordPress the benefit of the doubt and some time to change this, but I also felt an obligation to be clear for my readers.