I bought a dress while I was shopping for some groceries in the supermarket this afternoon. It was one of those impulse buys. It was less than twenty quid and I’d eyed it up last time I was browsing for socks for my almost-2 year old daughter.
I never buy clothes for myself, you see. Or rarely anyway. It’s even rarer that I make an impulse purchase.
It’s a money thing.
This is something I cringe from writing, because it’s so at odds with “me”. I hate to talk about money. Which, being self-employed, is probably something I need to get over.
Maybe it’s a British thing. Or maybe it’s that I don’t find “money chat” particularly interesting. And by “money chat”, I mean anything to do with purchases, status symbols, big cars, expensive stuff, houses.
Which again, is a problem. Because we’re saving for a house.
But I want to get over my issue with “money chat” to pose a question. It’s something that I’ve wanted to write about since I was approached about an opportunity last week.
Rewind to this time last year and our financial situation was a very different one. I had one month left of unpaid maternity leave. I had already handed in my notice so I knew I wouldn’t be returning to my pre-baby job as a radio journalist. Instead, I was carving out a career as a freelance journalist and writer.
My husband’s teaching salary was a bit lower than it is now and the work wasn’t exactly pouring in. It’s hard starting out.
Money was a constant topic of conversation. Although we had enough to pay our bills – rent, taxes, food, etc. – we weren’t earning enough to save. Which, again, is a problem when you’re trying to save for a house. In the current climate of big deposits anyway.
A year on and the freelance work has picked up pace. I’m earning money writing and broadcasting. I love what I do but I put in around 65 hours a week, as well as being a mum to Frog during the afternoons.
Anyway, back to the money.
Most of what I earn goes on petrol, childcare and savings. It’s all about the house.
So when an opportunity for a little extra rears its head it’s hard to look away.
This time last week I was approached about putting a “guest post” on my blog. This “guest post” consisted of writing a random post about a subject supplied by a marketing agency. Within the post I was asked to include a link to a specific company. The link had to be a “Follow link” and would be anchored to a relevant word.
I replied to the company making the offer, explaining that if I was being paid to write about a product and include a link, I would always clearly label this type of post as “Advertorial” or “Sponsored”. This is because I wouldn’t want to confuse my readers with previous instances when fellow bloggers or writers have provided content on this blog in the “guest post” form.
I also mentioned that I would really rather only include “NoFollow” links on my blog, if I was being paid for them. This is because of Google’s recent changes to terms and conditions. But, you know, my main concern was the whole labelling of the post.
The company replied to say that yes, that was all OK. And would I be happy for their technical people to take a look at my blog and match me to a client. I said yes, that’s fine – but can you confirm in writing that you’re fine for the post to be labelled “Advertorial” or “Sponsored”… And what about the Follow / NoFollow link thing?
There was no answer for a day or so and then the company replied. They had found me a client and they gave me a link, saying that they would increase the amount of money they could pay me if I could publish the post within 24 hours.
I still had no confirmation of the labelling thing. Or the Follow / NoFollow thing. But I did have an amount of money written down. And it was a healthy amount of money.
But I stuck fast. I wasn’t going to agree to anything until I was sure of what I was agreeing to.
It went back and forth for a while. Still no clear answers.
And then I had an email. The company were willing to nearly double the amount they were offering me. This is the amount I would earn doing more than two radio shows. It’s the amount I’d earn selling more than two features. It’s not an insignificant amount.
But for that money I had to be willing to include a Follow link (and go against Google’s t’s and c’s) and, more importantly, I had to pretend like the post was my own.
In essence, I had to include a link in a post about a subject that I was being paid to write about, but I had to bury it amongst all my other posts, so it didn’t stand out as paid for.
The company emailed me again. This time they offered yet more money. They said they could come to a compromise. How about if I labelled it as a “Guest Post”. They were afraid the terms “Advertorial” and “Sponsored” would not work. Their client would not be happy.
Again I refused. I said thank you very much, but no thanks. I didn’t feel comfortable with misleading my readers. Something about the whole offer made me feel very uneasy. I felt that to publish a post I was being paid to write, without making this transaction clear to my readers, would not be ethical.
I stood on top of my mountain of morality and I looked down.
And I saw the me of this time last year. And I wondered very much if she would have overlooked these issues and accepted the money.
And I don’t know.
What would you have done?