August is my blogoversary month, and a time when I like to share my thoughts and insights on blogging itself. Lately I’ve read a lot about blogging with integrity. I’m sure we all agree that blogging with integrity is important, but I’ve realized that it can mean different things to different people.
First and foremost, I think blogging with integrity means only claiming original content as my own. This should go without saying, but sadly it doesn’t it.
I blog to share what’s on my mind, to show you how I balance my life with fitness and faith, to tell you about new products I tried and liked (or didn’t), to share new recipes that my family really enjoys. I have enough to say without copying someone else’s writing and sharing it as my own.
The closest I come to sharing non-original content are some of my recipe posts, but when I share recipes that I found somewhere else, I give credit to the source and link to the original website, use my own pictures, and write out my own directions (with my own variations), like I did for my recent Tomato Tart recipe. I do all this not to “copy” someone else’s recipe, but because I use my recipe posts as a “cookbook” and want to be able to make them again if the original sites go dark, and if I don’t write them down, I’ll never remember the modifications I made to suit my family’s tastes.
Blogging with integrity comes up a lot in the context of sponsored posts. Here, I think blogging with integrity means being selective about the products I review, being honest in my reviews, and disclosing up-front in full-size, legible font that the post is sponsored (if it is).
As a general rule, I only review products that I would spend my own money on. I laugh at how many products I first tried for a review have become staples. It started way back in the day with Chobani, and more recently has included Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, and Blue Diamond Almond Milk. I still buy Chobani every week, still sprinkle hemp hearts on my toast every day, and still use almond milk (and hemp hearts!) in my oatmeal. I am always honest in my reviews, and don’t mince my words if I really didn’t like something.
A recent breakfast–I spy Chobani and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of sponsored posts that bury the disclosure at the end, often in small and/or light-colored font, and not always disclosing the sponsor. While that type of disclosure may be all that the sponsor wants you to do, it probably doesn’t satisfy the FTC’s requirements (which you can read about here and here), and doesn’t come across as very honest. 🙁
Blog Link Ups And Link Love Groups
You may not think that blog link ups and link love groups would test a blogger’s integrity, but when a blogger participates in blogging networks without following the guidelines or commenting on or sharing other posts, it does make me question that blogger’s motives. It’s disrespectful to the hosts and other participants when you drop your own link without taking the time to visit other blogs, and you really won’t grow your network if you don’t actively engage with others.
When I participate in a blog link up, I make sure to visit/comment on/share the host blogs, do the same for at least five other blogs in the link up, and do the same for everyone else who comments on my blog. Maybe some will criticize me for setting only five blogs as my minimum, but the time it takes to visit/read/comment/share adds up quickly–so please make sure you don’t have a complicated captcha comment system. 😉
Put my blogging integrity to the test and check out my sponsored review and giveaway of Freekeh (an easy-to-cook ancient grain).
What does blogging with integrity mean to you?