If you do an internet search on the subject of how to make money writing a blog, you will find countless links with advice, most of which are blogs! The suggestions range from promoting your services and products through a soft-sell to inserting advertisements and becoming an affiliate. So what is good etiquette for promoting your own or other people's products through blogging while still respecting your reader's time and attention?
To better answer this question, I reached out to Russell Bishop, Sr. Editor at Large at Huffington Post and the author of the upcoming book, Work Arounds That Work who was kind enough to share his insights with me.
"It is standard practice, and quite expected that an author provide information within or at the end of their blog to pitch their products or services. Imbedding Amazon links is an easy way of doing this. Each editor at Huffington Post monitors what goes on his or her page on the site. Providing useful content is essential to being published and a light-handed pitch is acceptable on our site. We realize that the contributing author is not being paid for their content and yet they need to make a living. That is why we are supportive of making the reader aware of how to contact the author or access their products. What we don't like is advertisements disguised as blogs."
Russell went on to explain his formula for how to create a useful and content-rich blog.
Step One: Situation. In the first paragraph frame the issue you are going to talk about.
Step Two: Complication. Demonstrate what makes that issue matter (the up side or down side)
Step Three: Resolution. Provide the reader with the "what you can do about it" in the form of the 10 tips, the 5 questions, the 7 keys, etc. Then you can add "if you want to know how to get even more help please visit XYZ site (this is where you lightly sell your goods).
In addition to Russell's advice, contributors to my Facebook Fan page also had this to say about selling within blog posts:
It is okay...when those who sell have pristine experience and offer free and interesting tips, in their own way showing an authentic interest in the consumers' personal growth. With the right balance, it's a very beautiful thing. - B.C.F.
When it is natural (meaning not forced or contrived), honest, and adds value then it's a service, you are simply helping people find what they are looking for or interested in. But, when it's a "fake" blog or post, then there should be some way to "flag" that!! - P.R.
I don't mind when it's not being pushed at me and when the blog text is easy to read, free of ads between paragraphs. If the entire piece is a promo like some do, that does not make for an interesting read. - A.D.M.
What do you think? How do you balance adding value with self-promotion? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: www.HowToWriteMyBook.com
Every Friday, HuffPost's Culture Shift newsletter helps you figure out which books you should read, art you should check out, movies you should watch and music should listen to. Learn more