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Today we're talking transparency. More and more, I see its a topic that bloggers have to address. As a blogger's popularity grows, the more opportunities come her way. PR companies come calling with products to try for review, shops offer goods for giveaway, brands provide discounts or even free goods in exchange for blog coverage. But how much of that, if any, should be disclosed to the blog reader? If a blogger starts to take on more sponsored posts, should all those posts be identified as such? Do readers have a right to demand full transparency? Or should a blogger consider those benefits like income in return for the countless hours put into writing, researching, and editing posts and as such, not feel a need to disclose their income details?
I don't have answers to these questions. I feel transparency is a personal choice of the blogger and we all have different levels of comfort. I've seen bloggers address this topic in varying ways. You can check out examples of how Jenny, Liz, and Cassie have tackled this tricky subject. For me, as a reader, I appreciate it when things are disclosed to me. If it is a sponsored post, I want to know. If something was given for free or in exchange for a review, I want to know. I would rather a blogger be upfront about how they're benefitting than find out later they were paid or swayed in some way for their opinion.
As a blog writer though, I feel there are boundaries as to what readers are entitled to. Should they know when I was given free product? Yes. Should they know when I've been paid to post about something? Yes. If I was given something (product/service/discount) specifically because I have a blog and there is the expectation I will post about that thing (positively or negatively), then I think there should be disclosure.
But how much to disclose is personal preference. I don't think readers are entitled to know how much you were paid for a sponsored post nor how much of a discount you were given to go with a particular product. I also feel readers don't have a right to pass judgement if a blogger chooses to take on advertising or be compensated to blog in any manner. That's an individual choice, the motivations to which we're not privy. Even if you are compensated in some way, I think the opinions you express should be your own, truthful, and how you really feel.
But that's just my opinion. What do YOU think? How do you deal with transparency on your blog? As a reader, what level of disclosure do you like to see?