I'm always fascinated by the new and creative ways that people think up to make money on the internet. A week or two ago, I found myself looking for ways to better my PageRank. For those of you who don't know, PageRank is a number from 0 to 9 assigned by Google to every website. The higher your PageRank, the more of an "expert" you are considered and the higher you will appear on the search results and the more traffic you will get. The way you get more PageRank is by getting other websites to link to you. I don't remember why I started looking, but I found some blog cataloging sites, like blogcatalog.com, for instance, that are basically like a phonebook of blogs, with a dash of social networking thrown in. And from there, I got sucked into the depressingly lonely narcissism of nominating my own blog for the Blogger's Choice Awards, knowing full well that the only votes I'd receive would be my own. Sigh... But my third major stop in my descent into the red light district of blogging was PayPerPost.com (some of you may have noticed this square in the sidebar). And this is the one that really struck me as clever. Most internet surfers are pretty attuned to what is advertising and what is not. We all recognize Google Adwords ads and flashy banners, and know that it's advertising. Not so much with blog posts.
What if I wrote a four-paragraph blog post about how I bought the BEST NOODLES EVER from this new site called Mhnaty.com. A lot of my regular readers would click on the link and go check out the site. Some might even order some noodles, because, as friends, they respect my opinion. But regular readers are just a small piece of the pie, I think. The real value is in internet searchers that are putting words like BEST NOODLES EVER into Google, or someone that already knows that Mhnaty.com is a noodle wholesaler, but is looking for more information about them before making a purchase. Someone like that could really be influenced by my blog post saying how fantastic the noodles are over at Mhnaty.com.
The problem is: How do potential advertisers get average Joe Bloggers like myself to write a post about their product? The solution is PayPerPost.com. Advertisers log into the site and create what are called "opportunities". An opportunity is basically an offer of "We will pay $X to anyone who writes a positive post with at least N words about our website and products," where typical values of X and N are $10 and 100 words. But the really clever thing, in my opinion, is that the advertiser can specify "Only allow bloggers with at least a PageRank of N". This makes so much sense! If I'm advertising my business, a blog entry on Engadget.com (PR=7) is obviously worth a lot more to me than a post on Hubbers.com (PR=2).
What PayPerPost.com has done is harness this more-or-less trusted abundant resource of user-generated internet content as a source of advertising revenue. Think about it, if you're at a party and you overhear someone you don't know telling his friends about how great the noodles are from Mhnaty.com, you're probably not going to stop and wonder if Mhnaty, Inc. is paying him to spread these opinions, you're probably going to accept it as true. And then the positive subliminal seed is sown, so the next time you stumble upon Mhnaty.com, you'll remember that you've heard somewhere that their noodles are pretty good, but you might not know why.
But wait! There's more! If you order in the next five minutes... They've also got this "Review My Post" system in place that rewards building connections between PayPerPost bloggers. The idea is that, if you click the "Review My Post" button at the bottom of one of my blog entries, you sign up with PayPerPost.com, submit your blog for approval, and then write a post about how awesome mediocre deplorable a post on my blog was. They pay us both $7.50. My share is for getting another schmuck to sign up with them and your share is for directing your traffic to my PayPerPost-enabled blog. Pretty clever, huh?
I'm going to try a few paid posts just to get a feel for the system and participate in it a bit. I probably won't do many, because it feels dirty and shameful. Hence the title of this post.
So anyway...to my regular readers... If you see a post here about a fantastic new real estate agency serving the greater Oklahoma City area, you'll know that it's not because I've lost my last marble.