Quite simply: I don’t allow advertising on The Curious Dentist.
I write this blog for fun, to keep in touch with people, to share content from my lectures, and to generate discussion with colleagues. I do not write this blog to make money. After some initial set up costs, this whole operation is fortunately not that expensive to keep running. I sell an e-book (more on the way) that actually does pretty well but I only charge $9.99 for it. That basically offsets the cost of keeping this ship afloat.
I am approached often by companies that want to put up an ad banner on this site. I politely decline. I’m not morally opposed to ads; I just want to keep this site visually clean. If you look to the right hand side of the screen there are two banners. One is for Dental Learning, which is an education company that I have written for in the past. They also supply reciprocal links from their site back here, so that sounded reasonable to me. The second banner is for Answers.com, where I an considered an “Expert Writer.” I have written and numiber of articles there that are more geared towards patients than dentists. There are many non-dentists that stumble upon this site so I figured I could show them over to Answers.com for information that is more appropriate for them.
I do occasionally mention product names here. I have never been paid to do so nor will I in the future. If I mention a product it’s because I dig it. When I travel to conferences I will often post on our Facebook page and Twitter about products that I find interesting. I am not paid to do that either.
I’m approached very, very often by companies that would like to write articles to promote their products and services. No money would change hands, rather they supply content and get some exposure. I politely refuse. I’m not morally opposed to it; I’ve published a couple of these posts in the past and they just haven’t performed well.
There is new kid on the block called “native advertising.” It’s like the situation I just described but money does change hands. It’s a bit controversial because content and advertising should be kept separate if one hopes to maintain a shred of journalistic integrity. I have been approached to do this as well and politely decline because I am morally opposed to it. Here’s HBO TV show host John Oliver with his eloquent reasons for why you should also be concerned about native advertising:
I do think that there are ways to make this work but there has to be a more compelling reason to do it rather than just “A company approached me with a bag of money!” For example, I am considering aligning with a student loan refinancing company who provides very low rates thanks to something called “peer lending.” My initial investigations are promising. If it all checks out, I would consider writing a few articles about student debt and refinancing with mentions to their service. If you were to click on a link I provide in the article and then actually sign up for a refi, then I would get a flat finder’s fee. I’ve thought long and hard about this. It doesn’t make my spidey sense tingle to get paid to help a company with a good idea get in touch with collagues who may really need their services.
Is that advertising? They aren’t dictating content or frequency. Each time I provide a link I would fully disclose that I am getting a finder’s fee. It’s more like an affiliate agreement. I feel okay about that but do you think it would taint our relationship? Would it make you begin to doubt our blogger-reader trust? Let me know what you think.