A makeover

by singlemomseeking on August 12, 2009

First things first: it does look a little, well, pinker here — doesn’t it? Yes, I’ve had a big makeover, thanks to Ben O’Grady, who’s a WordPress and tech wonder.

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to improve my blog for you. I’ve wanted to give you more to read on the homepage — and make it easier for you to get around. I hope you like it!

I‘ve also been thinking a lot about the ethics of blogging. Although I didn’t fly out to BlogHer ’09 in Chicago, I’ve been following this issue behind the scenes, specifically when it comes to earning money or getting free products through blogging.

You might have heard about the four bloggers who launched Blog With Integrity, “an initiative designed to stimulate conversation to reframe the debate about pay per post, reviews and FTC regulation in a more positive way, focusing on responsibility, respect and disclosure.”

When I first heard about this, I thought:

Is this a just a PR move?

Are these bloggers just trying to get some press for their new site?

I’ve been reading the interviews — and as a journalist-turned-blogger I didn’t appreciate being referred to as “naive” about the advertising/publishing world, as one of these bloggers said more than once. Ever since I got my first full-time reporting job in the early 90s, I’ve aimed to be genuine and honest.

That authenticity has not changed. If I’m giving away something, I’ve been honest about it. If I’ve received something as part a giveaway — whether it’s a book or a fancy condom case — I’ve said so. If a company has sponsored a post, I’ve made that very clear.

That said, I do think that “blogging with integrity” is a great idea for bloggers to get on the same page when it comes to earning money. What do you think?

I’ve taken “the pledge” (sounds like a sorority, doesn’t it?) Dr. Leah from Singlemommyhood has signed on, too — along with more than 1,000 bloggers so far.

Blog with Integrity.125sq

If you’re a blogger, I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Of course, if you’re a reader, please sound off!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobbi Janay August 12, 2009 at 10:31 am

I agree with the idea to be honest, do I just signed the pledge. Love the new look.

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judy August 12, 2009 at 11:08 am

It seems to me there are people who blog to journal
and those who blog professionally.

Again, be honest and all is good.

BTW
I just read that Julia Childs was anti Julie’s blogging about her cooking now isn’t that silly

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CMC August 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Rachel – love your new site, especially the pic of you and M!!!
I’m pretty new to the whole blogosphere (4 months in), so I dunno what to make of a lot of it. I have read many many posts that seem to be one, long, overly-adjective-filled advertisement for some product, but I think most readers know (or quickly learn) how to sift thru the ads and get to the real stuff.

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April August 12, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I love the new look!

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Restless Mama August 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I LOVE the new look, I’m actually moving websites so that I can have a bit more flexibility with my blog.

As for the Pledge, I love the idea. I had read about it at Motherhood Uncensored’s blog and I too took the pledge.

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singlemomseeking August 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Thanks so much everyone!!

I’m actually in the process of moving to a new host server, too, because my current one is completely unreliable. Hopefully, it will all go smoothly… whew.

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BigLittleWolf August 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Your post and comments raise numerous issues.

First: There’s a lot of room between blogging professionally and blogging as personal journal, which the “Blog with Integrity” pledge acknowledges. Some of us blog for a variety of reasons that change, overlap, and evolve.

Second: In my opinion, issues of disclosure and credibility are no different in the blogging world than in print journalism (for those of us who respect our readers as well as the act of writing).

Third: A clarification – there are elements of creative license that do, appropriately, affect blogging. For example, if it suits a post to say I’m sipping a dirty martini rather than a bloody mary, I’ll use the cocktail that makes sense, much as I would in a short story. It isn’t about product placement or sponsorship, and there is no “breech” of writer-reader trust; rather, there is delivery of a more cohesive piece of writing.

Fourth: The issue of appropriating material from others has caused me to change the way I’m approaching posts. I’ve found an increasing amount of my work duplicated elsewhere without attribution or link back to my blog. I write under a pseudonym intentionally (as I am job searching in a conservative town), but that doesn’t absolve responsibility for what amounts to stealing.
Consequently, I’m imbedding my copyright in small print in each post. On the one hand, it seems silly; and my fingers are crossed that my writing won’t offend potential employers or clients. On the other hand, it’s a matter of principle.

Last: For those of us who are considering moving our blogs to other platforms, might you blog on that and share the experience? It would be very helpful.

Thank you! And thank you for continued worthwhile and enjoyable reading!

Honoree August 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Hi Rachel! Love the new look. I agree, transparency and authenticity are key for bloggers. Just read Google Speaks and one of the points made about Google’s success is that they are transparent in their business model. I know from experience that the more authentic, open and honest I am, the more I’m “followed” (as is my blog). I’m drawn to people who share from their experiences in ways that doesn’t always make them look great. In fact, its one of the reasons I’m currently enthralled with Julie of Julie & Julia fame (the movie is excellent).

Honoree

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T August 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Wow! I feel like I should go find my curlers and my bunny slippers and join you for a glass of wine! Love the pink!

My blog has always been more of a diary for me… with some posts being more *ahem* insightful than others. ;)

However, I have been approached about some advertising and giveaways and if I believe in the product, sure, I’ll play along. I too try to ‘blog with integrity’. I’ll have to go sign this pledge.

Thanks, Rachel, for keeping it real. Love you honey!

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John F August 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Totally agree with the transparency issue. Also agree with the some folks blog to have a “diary” and others blog on a more professional revenue driven (HA) model. All is good as long as you are upfront about it. I am not ashamed to ask my readers to support my advertisers, buy Rachel’s book on Amazon from my site, or click on a google ad if it is appropriate and of interest. Hey there is a cost to maintain these things.

I like the theme, and strangely enough another blog I read just changed to this same theme this morning. As for the pink—eh. But what the hell do I know, I am a guy.

OK now off to get that Pepto Bismol smell off my fingertips!

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singlemomseeking August 13, 2009 at 7:54 am

Ah, John, I thought that real men like pink!

We all know that you have a soft side… don’t you?

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Dr.Leah www.singlemommyhood.com August 12, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Thank you for your kind mention of Singlemommyhood. I was honored to sign the pledge. Integrity is fundamental to all worthy efforts.

Your blog looks wonderful – love the pink. We’re all proud of you!

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Erica August 13, 2009 at 9:03 am

I don’t advertise on my blog since it’s mostly for friends, family & a few other people who just need someone to insult. :) So I guess I use it for more of a “hey – we’re building boats outta banana peels this week!”

But honesty is always good. (Like the new layout!)

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Eathan August 13, 2009 at 10:01 am

Great job Ben. I’m happy to see great usage of Thesis.
Nice change Rachel.

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Bill August 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Diggin the new threads Rachel.

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Deana August 13, 2009 at 3:25 pm

As a PR pro who often reaches out on behalf of my clients to sites like this, I’d like to say that I love the Blog with Integrity movement.

I’ll admit that this movement might not be popular amongst my colleagues. And I know that some of us got a bit scared about the PR Blackout that happened (is happening?) this month.

But the bottom line is this. There will always be PR types trying to get coverage from the blogosphere. This is a reality. But the good PR folks I know only take their time to reach out to the bloggers that have readers who trust them anyway. And that means total transparency, 100% of the time.

I’m relieved when bloggers disclose their relationship with a client or brand. I can breathe easier knowing that their readers wont dismiss them or their blog as a shill or start a war in the comment section about whether or not it was a pay per post. Or worst of all, ignore it.

So, for what its worth, I totally support this movement.

(And the site looks great, BTW!)

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singlemomseeking August 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Deana, because you’re someone in PR with whom I’ve worked with — and you really are a pro, along with being very hip — your comment means a lot. Thanks!!

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QTMama August 14, 2009 at 6:47 am

I’m loving the new look here SMS! It’s quite … perfect for you. :)

As for the blog, as you know I do blog. Upon beginning the blog, it was so personal and so for me that it never even occurred to me to blog for money, post ads, any of that.

When offers for that started to come in, I considered it. I really did and then one thing popped into my head. That’s not the reason I started my blog. It’s still mine and SO personal, that I’m not about to advertise on it. Nope. Just not for me. I have a good job, and I’d rather leave the room for people who do this professionally, like you. :) Cuz I do it for fun and it’s stayin that way.

XOXO

-QT

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Solo-Dad August 14, 2009 at 11:03 am

Definitely sexier. ;)

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Nappy Kitchen August 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm

So this is what happens when I’m not around;)

I like the new color scheme. The hierarchy of the material is a lot more apparent. The colors are very easy on the eye.

The picture of you and M is divine and right on target.

Great job!

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