Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Selling Out

Look. I get it. I really do. It kind of sucks to read a post and then get to the bottom where I mention it's sponsored by this company or that company and then you feel like a sucker. Like everything I wrote was bullshit and made up for the company. I understand that. But you should understand that occasionally being able to get paid for writing on this blog (something I would have written about without being sponsored) is a good thing and you should be happy for me.

I would never write anything in a sponsored post that I wouldn't have written about anyway. For example, I recently really got into going to these Amish auctions. They're awesome. You can bid on fresh fruit and vegetables, I'm talking this stuff was picked from gardens right before the auction. They auction flowers, furniture, fresh eggs straight from the coop. It's just a really cool part of country living.

So I bid on and won a bunch of vegetables. The auction is conducted by Amish folks and is just so theatrical and fascinating to watch that I recorded some of it on the sly (Amish people don't really dig being photographed or videotaped) and had been planning a post about Amish auctions and all the stuff I bought. When Hillshire Farm asked if I wanted to write about being healthy and trying to cook healthy dinners for my family it all jived. Serge and I want to try and go carb-free August 1, I had been planning this post about buying veggies at the Amish auction... Perfect, I thought. Same thing with the Allstate stuff and us having just road-tripped across the country.

That said, I still get why you'd be concerned about coming here only to have corporations shoved down your throat. Ain't ever going to happen. These two offers came right together and that's how it happened to work out. Generally, I'm thinking you'll see a sponsored post once or twice a month... And come on. Stop with the sellout bullshit. I'm not some hipster band sponsored by my rich parents who has the luxury of finger pointing and calling other people sellouts for being able to charge for their creativity. I'm a mother of two with a family to feed and health insurance to pay for. Don't like it? Go somewhere else. I've been writing on this blog since 2005 and the fact that I've been able to turn it into what I do for a living is mind-bogglingly kick ass. If that still doesn't convince you well... then... there is enough content on this blog between sponsored posts to allow you to continue clicking daily and not read the "sell out" posts. But, honestly? If you're so outraged by the fact that I would accept money from a corporation to write something I'd write on this blog anyway, you should go somewhere else. Because you haven't really been reading what I've written for the past four years then, about wanting to leave FOX News, move to the country and work from home. This is a dream come true for me and I worked my ass off to make it happen.

However, your readership is the reason corporations are willing to pay me to write about stuff. Which is why I don't want you to go somewhere else. And also because I like you. I love that this group of people clicks over here every day to see what's going on with me. I like being able to ask the internet what color I should paint my bathroom and getting excellent advice within seconds. I like that when I feel down y'all are able to commiserate and also tell me to get over myself when I'm being an asshole. I especially like it when I fight with Serge and you side with me, which, of course you do. I'm always right.

So, what can I do to make reading sponsored posts better for you? Some have said I should try to disguise the fact that posts are sponsored with more seamless transitions from the blog part into the sponsorship bit at the end. I kind of disagree. I always want you to be able to very clearly tell which posts are sponsored and wondered if you'd rather know straight away off the top that it's a sponsored post so you don't feel like a "sucker"? Although, again, I'm never going to write a sponsored post that I wouldn't have written on the blog anyway, so don't feel like a sucker! If you're into me, into this blog, you should be just as entertained by a sponsored post as a "regular" post because they're all coming from the same place. So come on, let's do this. Let's hear your theories and thoughts on selling out. Let's have a discussion about sponsored posts and all that entails.

Reader Comments (70)

I like how you approach sponsored posts - that it's something you would write anyway and you are not trying to disguise the fact that it's sponsored. It would be a lot different if you wrote "Serge and I are trying Atkins and we gorged ourselves on some delicious Hillshire Farms sausage!" My only suggestion would be to note that it is sponsored at the top of the post, maybe beneath the headline. You can have a longer blurb at the end, but at least this way people know right away that it is sponsored and they can choose to read it or not. I'll admit, if I'm reading a really engaging post and that at the end it says "brought to you by..." I feel a bit let down/abused in the readerly sensed. So again, I think if readers know upfront, it would solve that problem too.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbec

Whatever, I love your blog and love what you write. The fact that one entry here and there may be a sponsored post isn't going to stop me from reading. The content is still the same and you are your same funny, off the wall, entertaining self. Good for you for doing what you LOVE and making some money too. Don't we all wish we could say the same about our "jobs"? All the best to you and your family!


July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramyinaustin

Obviously- your blog, your decision. Personally, I do not mind your approach and certainly would not mind seeing one to two sponsored posts a month as you indicated might be the norm. It is when EVERY post has something tacked onto the end that I get a bit disgusted, even if it comes with a contest, which frequently seems to be the way to do those things. That is when I decide, nope.

Also, I agree with bec. If you put a sponsorship note at the beginning of the post, then readers can make an informed decision whether to continue reading. And of course, most people will not be fazed by it.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

The only thing I would suggest is putting BLOG TITLE (Sponsored Post) as the title so people can ignore it if they want or feel insulted at the reveal at the end of the entry.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

I appreciate the full disclosure - I scan a lot of blogs - if they don't interest me right off I just don't read. Everyone should follow their bliss and I applaud you for doing so. Keep up the great work - corporation see the benefit of engaging your followers. As long as you believe in what you do - go for it.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Kelly

OMG you guys --- blogging is Monica's business. She works everyday just like you and I. Who wouldn't want to make additional money for their BUSINESS by writing sponsored posts?? The world is changing, the internet is a part of our lives now. A corporation would have to be brain dead not to tap into sponsored posts as an advertising tool. You're gonna see it more and more; it was bound to happen. Sway Group just didn't happen. It happened because a smart woman, who knows a thing or two about advertising saw a way to bring bloggers and corporate sponsors together. Lots of bloggers write for free and that is OK too. BUT if you could get paid to write a sponsored post would you turn it down? Probably not. This is Monica's business, people. It's the way she makes a living and pays her bills.

I would read Monica's blog with or without sponsored posts. She makes me laugh. She's real. She isn't pretentious. And her kids are adorable. She's at home taking care of business and raising two kids --- who gives a rats ass if she writes a sponsored post? I don't.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDona

You go, Monica! Stand up to the negative Nancys (a term I especially love because THE MOST NEGATIVE person I have ever known happens to be named Nancy). It's awesome that you were able to get paid for the post about peeing in the weeds, because that is some funny shit (or pee...whatever). You are a fantastic blogger and you SHOULD be getting paid for it. If you were a syndicated columnist, there would be ads all around your column. But we all know where newspapers are going. People are going to have to get used to it: great bloggers can (and should) get paid for blogging. So if sponsored posts are mixed in with the regular posts and if the sponsored posts are just as funny/worth reading as the regular posts, get over it.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Hey! i m sorry but i cannot understand why people are suddenly complaining you ve been writng for babble all this time and we have been clicking away!! so whats the big deal?? everywhere you look these days you find adds, and the fact you can make money off something you really like great! its not like you re making me buy it!! Plus the stories are fun and you can tell its you!!
Love your stuff!!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanae

Don't sweat it ... people will always find something to bitch about regardless. Have you received any folks taking up for the weeds you peed on? Any that are mad because of the chickens that lost their life for the sausage? I can't wait to see the ones who are going to be all upset about the sneaky photographing of Amish folks. Oh my!!!! Eh ... can't please everybody. Do what's right for you. Hugs!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I agree with some people that simply stating at the beginning at the post that it is sponsored is a good idea. I will still read it of course but it does get rid of that, "oooh its for Allstate" feeling... and even with that Allstate post... when I got to the bottom and realized it was sponsored I admit I squinted a bit as if to say "ah, she got me" but then I decided to even click on the link just in case Allstate is tracking that sort of thing for you. I wanted to support you in you makin that money!

I know I haven't read every single comment, but from the ones I've seen most people seem to be really supportive and happy for you to be making money by continuing to entertain us, so I was a little surprised to see a whole post like this one defending yourself. You have nothing to defend at all... I guess maybe we just want to whine a bit but trust me... most of us aren't going anywhere. Where else can we find someone who will write about pissing on the side of the road like an pro?

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg W.

You know what? Screw the mean people. I say rock on for being able to use this blog to help support your family, no matter what that means. Your writing is great: sponsored pieces, DIY pieces, sweet pieces, all of 'em, and we are just the lucky folks that you allow to be a part of that. You're great. It's been inspiring to watch/read you follow your dream, and I'm going to keep on reading anyways. I don't eat hillshire farm stuff really, and I don't use allstate. But that doesn't mean that I'm all of a sudden not going to pop over here everyday and read what you're got on your mind.

Keep on, keepin' on.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

I don't care if all of your blogs are sponsored! Getting paid for what you do,,,what a concept!!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Hmmm, interesting topic. I definitely agree that once I start reading someone's blog and it's good, I begin to like them and think 'awesome, good for them' if they start making money off it. Cool beans.
On the other hand, truthfully, I have stopped following a lot of blogs shortly after that. Not because I feel it's a sellout thing, but they often become less interesting to me. Every blogger claims that their content will remain the same, but there are always changes that come with the responsibility of earning money off your blog. I have noticed on some of the more famous blogs that the bloggers lose a bit of their wit and edge because now they have sponsors to please and can't piss people off anymore, so the content become a bit more bland. A bit of pandering to the masses as opposed to saying 'f*ck it, here's my opinion and if you don't like it go suck donkey balls!" It's hard to describe, but there is somehow a difference (for me, anyway) between reading someone's blog that they are writing because it's a hobby that they love, and reading someone's blog that has become their job and income. It certainly feels less sincere, but like I said I don't want anybody to not become awesomely rich and famous so I don't complain, but I tend to move on at that point.

I'm still gonna read here though, because you're one of my favs.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterevanderz

I think you have a family who need to be taken care of. And you are doing something that you love doing to make it all happen. Fuck everybody else. I love your blog, read it everyday, sometimes twice a day. Hell, if that makes me a sucker, then I am A HUGE ONE!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterApril

In my way of thinking, you have two choices. 1. You could stay home and write - therefore getting more time with the kids and your man, which equates to your readers getting to read more of the stuff that brought them to your site in the first place. 2. You could be working weird hours in some newsroom, tired and spent which equates to less time with the kids and your man, which means readers get less of what brought them to your site in the first place. Selfishly, I pick the former. Maybe a short statement at the top for those who "can't stomach" the commercialization of your posts. Dear God, how can anyone blame you for wanting to make a living the easiest way you can (although I realize it must not be easy at times). As mothers, we should be praising the skies (or at least Allstate and Hillshire Farms) that you CAN make a living doing something you're good at, and that we in turn get to enjoy. Full steam ahead, Monica. Do what is right for your family. There are some of us readers who are smart enough to realize what is sponsored or not. I get tired of folks thinking they're "above all that" when you know they'd probably do exactly the same. We're bombarded by advertising from the moment we wake, to the moment we sleep. A couple of posts ain't gonna make a difference. You've always been 110% honest about your life - don't stop now!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertara

Whoever is mad at you for "selling out" is a moron. Does anyone actually feel duped after reading one of your sponsored posts? That is such a ridiculous reaction. After I read your post that was sponsored by Allstate I honestly was glad that they asked you to write about your road trip because that story was awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed it. If Allstate had not given you the idea to write about a road trip I may have never heard that story.

So don't be bothered by the haters. They are lame, and you don't need them. You have enough supporters without them.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

You have a family to support!! Who cares if there is a sponsored post every now and then? Get over it people! If the people who are angry got an offer like that, I KNOW they wouldn't turn it down. They are just jeal!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I 100% approve of your sponsored post approach. It's mine as well. I only take one if I already know I can write a good post that I would write anyway. I think your plan is good and I'm glad you're able to make it work. And with the blogs I see with sponsored EVERYTHING, you are not even anywhere near a sellout in my book.

Congrats on the sponsors. And the agent. And all your super-blog-dom.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Monica! We love you. I've been reading your blog since close to when you started, and reading about and relating to your beautiful, evolving adventure through life gives me a sense of hopefullness and reflection and gratitude about mine. THANK YOU for so candidly sharing yourself and your family with us. I'm delighted you are able to support your family by writing, that is awesome. And your new house is so lovely! Congrats on getting back to the country.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKerry

Here's what I think - every post can be sponsored. You can have ads up the cooter because you share an incredible talent with the world and I am grateful to have access to it. You should be able to make a living for it and if having a hotlink at the end of the article that I can choose to click on if I wish that happens to relate the article enables you to do this more - then yippeee! This whole idea is soooooo 1985. I dream of becoming a sell out - getting paid for being me and writing about it. Sign me up. The only people who even think of the idea of "selling out" are the people who could be bought. The rest of us wouldn't dream that receiving advertising would somehow change what we write or who we are.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeresAnAnswer

For the record, I could give a rat's ass if some of your blogs are sponsored! This is your JOB.
I think most of us feel the same and only a few sour grapes are in the mix.
I think you summed it up pretty well in this post.
It's awesome you can make some money from doing what you're naturally good at.
We should all be so lucky!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCristin

Wait, if getting paid is selling out- then didn't you sell out when you started writing for babble, what is so different?

I think you should develop some kind of nice little icon thingy that would go at the end of a post and it would say, sponsored by: and then there would be a link to the company.
It did feel awkward the way you worked in both Hillshire and Allstate, but you're new to it, so I forgave you :) I think it is SO awesome that you are getting paid to write now, that is totally a dream come true and I'm insanely jealous.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradrienne

I agree with most of the comments already said. I really don't mind the sponsored posts at all; if writing about something and slapping a "sponsored by Hillshire Farms" at the end of it pays the bills and keeps you writing, do it. Honestly, I commend you for writing on this website for as long as you have WITHOUT getting paid for it. It's about time you can get paid to do something you love. You've worked hard for it and you deserve it.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I like Jeneria's idea. Put that it's sponsored in the title. Anyone who cares can stop reading, then put the full blurb at the end. As long as your writing is still awesome, I will keep reading and I'd rather get right into reading it than have the sponsorship message at the beginning. I also agree with you that making the sponsorship less obvious would feel more dishonest. I like that it's very clear.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDi

I don't really object to the sponsored posts, but I agree with the people above - it would be really nice to know at the BEGINNING of a post. I probably would have read both the sponsored posts anyway, but it felt a little... tricky to get to the bottom of the post and discover that it was sponsored. Also, I honestly think the posts work best when the segue actually makes sense. I thought the AllState post actually seemed pretty logical - passing along info that people in a similar situation (e.g. no AAA) might use. But, uh, sausage when you're thinking about a no carb diet? It just felt weird and advertise-y. I know it's hard to turn down a sponsorship, but I guess I feel like this would go better if you were accepting sponsorships from companies you actually use and can successfully write a post about. I feel like Rebecca at Girls Gone Child has done this really successfully, so... maybe check out how other bloggers have done it for some tips?

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM.

I started clicking over to babble more often after finding out you'd get paid. Who wouldn't?

Once you get going on this new venture, see if you can include coupons or links for freebies from the sponsors to placate the Debbie Downers.

I liked the idea of having a disclaimer at the top, like advertisements in magazines, but something small like "today's post is brought to you by the letters...." It's been a long time since I've seen Sesame Street so I googled what was actually said and instead found this... I'm at work (early lunch) and haven't watched it yet, but it looks like it should be funny.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStarsky

Doesn't matter to me how you couch it...just seems less corny when you work it in. To me it's just very creative and interesting to see how you choose to do it. BTW...i had no idea you were doing that ( how smart I am)...and think It's great you can get paid for something that you ( and most of us) normally do every day for free ( enthusiastically telling people about products we use). I don't remember you mentioning the brand of paint you chose, but if you had and I liked the color, I may have considered buying it. My point is, so long as you are not compromising your integrity. Right? PS." And now a word from out sponsor" has already been used for a non-advertising related post of yours, I think....

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

I am torn on this one. I don't generally mind sponsored posts - and I see that you are feeding your family with this, and I am really, really glad for you being able to work from home and be with your kids - but I sure feel put off when the nature of the post isn't revealed straight up in the headline, like someone else suggested: BLOG TITLE (Sponsored Post).

The Hillshire Farm post though... I missed it and read it just now, and frankly, it made me cringe. Personally, I hate hate HATE the meat and processed foods industries for oh so many of reasons... environmental, ethical, health... and I am stunned that people still do Atkins despite all the health hazards associated with it. I just want to scream, No, Monica, Noooo! Atkins is SO UNBELIEVABLY BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH! Don't do this to yourself!!

A few commenters on the original "sausage posts" have given good diet advice already, so I am not going to repeat all of that. But yes, if you want to go high in protein, I too say go for the plant-based: quinoa, lentils, beans... I am happier and healthier than ever since I am fully vegetarian, and especially since I eat only whole foods and cook from scratch every day.

In the end though... you do whatever is in line with your personal values. I will still read your blog, but I am going to skip over the sponsored posts... and yes, I WILL cringe at posts sponsored by the meat/processed foods industry.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

Last time I checked, I have not had to pay a dime for the pleasure of your exquisite writing. I believe you are a person of integrity and will not willy-nilly jump onto any corporate bandwagon to make money. I do understand that people may be thrown off by the occasional sponsored post. That view must be balanced with the fact that this is your livelihood. I believe you have the support and understanding of the vast majority of your readership.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa H

sponsored or not I come here bc your posts are real and funny as hell. If you can make money from sharing the funny details of your life go for it.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterval

I did make the comment about the transition and I think you make a good point, it can be interpreted as trying to disguise it and that wouldn't be a good idea. When I mentioned the transition, or tailoring your sponsors to your lifestyle, I was thinking something maybe like what Kelle Hampton does at Enjoying the small things. She writes the normal post, and at the end says something like "We're welcoming sponsor XXX...." and carries on like that. It's not disguised, but you see where the post ends and the sponsored content begins. It may not be possible in all cases, and people still complain about Kelle from what I read around the internet, so yeah, there ain't no pleasing certain people.
So, thanks for encouraging participation (even if we don't all deserve it ;-) and all the best for your freelance career.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranother monica

I don't have any issues with sponsored posts (To wit: I have clicked on Babble links to stories I'm not particularly interested in—I don't have kids or any real interest in them—strictly because I know my click-thrus put dollars in your pocket). I do have some issues with the way you handled the Hillshire Farms post, which rubbed me, and obviously some others, the wrong way.

I also have an issue with your habit of putting up a post asking people for their opinion—and then following it with a post in which you attack and essentially (or actually) say "fuck you" to the people who don't agree with you. It sucks when people do this in real life and it also sucks when they do it on the internet. I don't need to like you to read you. But don't ask people what they think if you either don't want to know or can't handle opinions that don't match up with yours.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR

I've been reading your blog for years. The fact that I couldn't tell that the sponsored posts were sponsored until the end of the articles speaks volumes about whether or not you are selling out. Survey says, "no"! Do what you need to do to feed your family. I don't care if the title says, "Sponsored By" or if you reveal at the end. No one else is sitting at your kitchen table figuring out which bill to pay this month and which one you can put off for another month. I expect those that are complaining have never been in that situation or have forgotten what it feels like.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

I don't mind at all. I also click through to stuff I don't read because I know you may get extra $ that way. It takes me a second or two and I figure it's worth it. I have older children but I was able to stay home with them when they were little and I know how important and valuable that experience is for everyone involved. I say grab the moolah where you can get it, especially in these troubled economic times.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline

I thought the sponsored posts weren't bad, but they threw me a bit at the end.

It doesn't bother me that your blog is sponsored sometimes. But I've been reading for awhile. What I can tell you is that when I come across sponsored posts on blogs that I HAVEN'T been reading for awhile, I don't go back to read more because I question what I'm reading... is this true? Is this just for product placement to make $$? Now, you've said that your blog is still the same as it was before, and I believe you... but would a new reader be so trusting? Would they even see that statement before they clicked away after reading a sponsored post?

That's my two cents. It doesn't bother ME, but I can see it being a turn off to new readers.

My suggestion... Have you looked at other forms of advertising that wouldn't be part of your content? Banner ads, etc? I see the blogher side bar, but there's gotta be more ways to generate revenue through more traditional advertising...

Or, instead of posting a blurb about the company, could you simple put a banner ad at the bottom of the post? So it looks less blatant?

Good luck on this new adventure! I can only imagine how much work it took you to get to this point and I wish you all the success in the world!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

do what you need to do! also, it is helpful. I had been thinking about switching car insurance, and after I read your post (with roadside assistance) I was like, "hey that sounds good!" ha. I totally fell for it!

I envy you that you get to blog for a living. I have no qualms whatsoever about sponsorships!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I think you gotta do what you gotta dol! I thought the 'sponsored posts' were just as funny & creative as you non-sponsored posts, and if you can collect some cash to support your family while you do it, then good on ya. Your true supporters and followers will continue to support & follow and those that don't like it have plenty of other places to go read funny,creative shit that people can afford to write for free. Much like what you said in your blog today. Stand your ground and do what feels right to you and your family! :)
Much love, girl!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKerri

I don't care if your blogs are sponsored - just put a note at the top that the blog is sponsored of the blog so the reader can choose to read it or not. I like your writing but the HIllshire and Allstate posts made me feel uncomfortable - not that I didn't enjoy the the storytelling - it was just really weird to get to the end and have the product plug. As a reader, I would have liked to have known upfront that the blog was sponsored (I read several blogs that do this and appreciate the full upfront disclosure - maybe check out how some other bloggers intermingle the sponsored blogs with the unsponsored - some do this seamlessly). Continue to write interesting, funny, introspective, and provocative posts and your readership will grow. Would be interested in hearing more from Serge too! Maybe he could write some of the sponsored blogs? :) Can only imagine the tale he could weave about Hillshire Farms, Allstate and AAA.....

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

I say you take a cheesy photo of yourself (or Serge, or whomever)--a la vintage 50's black-and-white or slightly colorized ads, holding up your hands in a "place product here" kind of way, and then put "Brought to you by...!" in text over the photo. Then you can post that at the top of each sponsored ad like a non-offensive banner or something. I mean, hey, might as well make something silly and entertaining from it if it's going to be a regular feature..and people like visuals.

Also, DOOD even after everyone warned you off Atkins, you're still going for it?? Pfffft!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterown it, sista

At the risk of stepping in here again, it seems that some people think that up-front knowledge that a post is sponsored is a good idea. And I agree. But I am amazed and sad at the angry reaction to a couple of people expressing an opinion about this. As has been said, you are making your living and no one begrudges you that. But it certainly feels like the intertubes aren't really about people expressing what might be a minority opinion. Or at least readers feel that they need to vociferously jump to your defense in a loud and insulting way. I am not a moron. I am a person expressing an opinion about a bit of sadness upon reading something that seemed discordant with what I had come to expect here. No name calling, no use of the term "sell out." In para 4 of your post, you seem pretty angry and I just don't see that you were attacked. And I think you will notice that the (few) people who expressed that getting to the end of the sponsored post made them feel tricked did so in an almost timid manner, since they probably knew what the commentors were ready to bring in response. So do what is comfortable for you. As others have suggested, you might check out other sites to see how they do it. Dooce is always clear and upfront about a sponsored post, of which there are not many, but she doesn't wrap them in a "Leta needed new glasses so we went to LENSCRAFTERS" sort of way. There isn't one way to do it, so you will find your style. But discussion shouldn't be all one direction or slavishly supportive or it isn't a discussion.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkd

I think the warning at the top would be great too :) I was all for you getting paid to do what you do best but, i was kind of like wait... I thought this wasnt going to be a regular thing and then there was another one...but I know you explained why. (Not that you have to explain yourself) This is your blog. It always has been. You can do with it as you please. Some people may get turned off but whatever. Right? I agree that your sponsored posts do read a little differently. I know you say you were going to write about these things anyway but it doesnt really seem like you had a blog already written and Oh hey wait a minute this ad would go great with this post. It def seems like the ad prompted the post...again whatever...Maybe it seems different b/c you are trying not to sound different.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

As a regular reader and somewhat of a fangirl of the Bielanko clan, I appreciate your consideration for your readers and I think your justification / plan for sponsors sounds incredibly reasonable. You are a great writer and have entertaining insights, so if my enjoyment of reading your posts helps bring in the money for ya, I say FUCK YEAH, MONICA!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAsh

LOL @ people who are insulted.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTeres

Hey Monica I love your blog. I appreciate the sponsored blogs because I trust your opinion. If you are endorsing something I am more likely to try it, which is exactly what the sponsors have in mind. So, yeah, I think it works great. Thank you for caring what we think and respecting your readers wishes. I don't think you need to tell readers that it is a sponsored post up front. I am a long-time reader so I can kinda tell anyway (since I know you so well). I don't understand the fuss anyway since you already announced that you were going to do it before you started, to me that put your readers on notice. So stop your cryin already, people.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterniobe_19

i call bullshit on anyone who calls a talented writer a sell-out. it's hard as hell to make any money at all writing. the fact that you're able to do that (on multiple different sites, i might add) is a testimony to your talent. not a testimony to you selling out.

though i don't know you well, i DO know you well enough to say this with total certainty: the last two words i'd EVER associated w/ Monica Bielanko (um, did i spell that right?) are SELL OUT. they don't belong in the same sentence alongside your hard-to-spell name.

period. paragraph.

end of story.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn cave osborne

You know, out of curiosity, I went back to see all the people criticizing you for "selling out," and...well, actually only saw one person use that phrase. Unless I missed something? Because it seemed like the main critic was a non-native English speaker trying to convey their thoughts and struggling to do so, and after they picked the wrong adjectives they apologized for it afterward and seemed pretty embarrassed. But, other than that, everyone else seemed pretty pragmatic about the whole thing, if they said anything at all...?

I dunno, I kind of wonder if the one comment didn't stand out to you more because *you're* feeling a little self-conscious about coming across like a sell-out, so she just happened to hit a sore spot. Which is fine, but based on your reaction in this post, could be distorting how you think your readers are responding to you (unless you also received a torrent of emails from critical people, who knows.) I guess I just want to reassure you/point out that it doesn't seem like most of your readers were really going after you or have a big issue with the sponsorship, so I don't think you need to feel targeted or attacked or anything.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterown it, sista

As you have made this difficult transition, these critiques that are being leveled at you became inevitable.

There are people that have not taken the time/energy/creativity/effort to craft a life and a relationship with money that generates a feeling of freedom and generosity. Carving out a life for a family, with the right amount of resources, in the best possible geographical location for all members is an anxiety-inducing endeavor. It must also be acknowledged that this is also a privilege (making these choices) enjoyed by a certain percentage of us - lucky, educated and fearless.

Having read your blog over a span of some years, I sense that there is some hesitance as you move permanently into writing and content generation for monetary reward. This is what transitions are. You are not flawless and practiced at this yet, but as you stare down the challenge of continuously creating this self-portrait for us, while you take commission work (I will always think of the highest potential for blogging as art), you will begin again to craft the Monica magic that draws eyes to your site.

As far as name-calling, it begins on the playground and extends well into the social lives of senior citizen centers. We like to categorize people and experiences that make us uncomfortable. Transition is change and that makes people uneasy. Feel the discomfort of the criticism, but only use it to help you further clarify your vision for the site. Watching anyone grow and change includes some cringing, but without the awkwardness, there could be no understanding or perspective about the grace and beauty of the human beings we hope to become.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkatherine it bad that I didn't really notice? Granted, I skim sometimes or am reading at 3am, feeding baby boy, but last time I checked, you weren't forcing everyone to absorb every word. Hooray for freedom. I'm really happy for you! It is so cool that you get to be home and get paid for doing what you do so well. I'm facing my last week of maternity leave and transitioning baby boy into daycare and it sucks. I almost always click every single thing you post when I read because I know viewership and clickity clicks equals ducats. Like the song from A Chorus Line goes, "And I'm still on unemployment... Dancing for my own enjoyment? That ain't it, kid." So, carry on and keep writing.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchristine

You are not selling out! Go on and make that money at what you love for all of us who wish they could...
Yes, a disclaimer is great. No, it won't stop me from reading you. By the way, your husband is probably one of the greatest writers I've ever read. Lucky girl!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiss A

Blog. Get paid. Rinse, repeat. I'll be reading (clicking over when applicable, like at Babble) just like always. Sure, put "sponsored" or whatever in the title or at the top of the post. I don't personally care, but I can see where others are coming from.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

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