Ethical Blogging Problems: How to Solve 9 Moral Dilemmas

By: | April 21, 2020 | Tags: ,
Ethical blogging decisions

Janice Wald

Ethical blogging.

Have you been confronted by ethical blogging issues?

In the five and a half years I’ve been blogging, I’ve been confronted with ethical blogging concerns many times.

My motivations when I started blogging in 2014 were pure: My love of writing coupled with my desire to help bloggers, and the goal to build a business I could run in my retirement from teaching are still my blogging goals.

I was not prepared as a new blogger in 2014 for the ethical blogging decisions I would need to make as a blogger.

I have to wonder if I am prepared to make these ethical blogging decisions now, a five and a half-year veteran.

Most of the ethical blogging decisions I make involve money.

Read on to learn how to handle ethical blogging problems.

Ethical Blogging Decisions

Moral Blogging Dilemmas

Vaping

Many of my readers know I am a middle school teacher.

Naturally, I had many ethical blogging problems when I was asked to publish a post about vaping.

Mind you, this wasn’t any post about vaping. The post explained why the author feels vaping isn’t harmful.

You should know I was offered a lucrative amount of money to publish the post.

The guest author titled the post, “How Blogging Can Help To Improve the Vaping Business.” Therefore, the content is in my blogging tips niche.

I couldn’t refuse the post, since it met my criteria for guest posting.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

“It’s no secret that the vaping industry is growing at a speedy rate. More people are starting vaping businesses and looking for ways to promote them. But, vaping has gotten a bad reputation over recent months. It followed the use of substandard vaping products that led to lung injuries.

Nevertheless, people are still vaping, and they consider this habit a healthier alternative to traditional smoking. Currently, there is an ongoing debate about vaping.

People that run vaping businesses feel pressured by the government that is likely to make major changes in the way people buy and use their products.

The major challenge is that some vaping business owners don’t know how to raise awareness about the use of products like a dry herb atomizer (https://vapingdaily.com/vape-tanks/). But, blogging is a sure way to do this. The current blogosphere presents an excellent place for speaking out in favor of the things different players in the vaping industry support.”

What would you have done?

What you could do instead:

I rewrote the post so it wasn’t about the harmless effects of vaping.

Bots

Bots: Ethical Blogging Consideration 1

After you blog for a while, happily, you make blogging friends. This is one of the advantages of blogging.

A blogging friend of mine asked if he could post on my site. Of course! He’s been a good friend to me for years!

My ethical blogging consideration had nothing to do with the author, but the content. My friend wanted to post about how bots can help you on Instagram.

One of the disadvantages of using social media is you never know when you’re engaging with a bot instead of a real person.

Bots have a seriously bad reputation.

What you could do instead:

The article was quite transparent about the use of bots and why they can be helpful at Instagram.

What did I do?

I published the post about Instagram bots. Here is the Instazood tutorial if you want to see it.

Bots: Ethical Blogging Consideration 2

In the above example, I did a friend a favor.

I had another ethical blogging consideration when someone offered to pay me to publish a post about an Instagram liker, a service that uses bots.

I have to pay my blogging bills. Did I take the money?

What you could do instead:

I published the post and gave full transparency that the Instagram liker service uses bots.

I also included a disclaimer. When people’s money is riding on your published opinion, I recommend you do the same. Feel free to use a comparable disclaimer:

“These opinions reflect the views of the author and not necessarily Janice Wald or Mostly Blogging.”

I also put a disclaimer on a post I published for compensation telling people how to view private Instagram profiles.

It really sounds worse than it was. One of the tips involved simply asking the account owner if you can see their private Instagram account.

Putting a disclaimer on your sponsored post helps you. That way no one can blame you personally if they are disappointed when they follow the tips.

Call Girls

Call girls! This is a blogging tips site!

Like in the previous example, someone offered to pay to sponsor content that I considered questionable.

The author put a link to a site about call girls in his post and offered to pay me to publish it.

I actually clicked on his link hoping for the best. The picture was downright pornographic.

What would you have done: Dilute your brand and take the money?

Here’s how it worked out:

I was spared the ethical blogging decision. The author and my business manager couldn’t agree on terms and I never heard from him again.

If you look at the top of my blog, you’ll notice we don’t have a banner ad running across the top.

We did for a month.

People came by to offer me money to advertise their soccer game.

I don’t know why I didn’t have ethical blogging considerations with that decision.

Since I have a custom theme, I had to contact my theme developer to change my code to display the ad.

My blog has nothing to do with sports. Having a big soccer ball on the top of my blog looked strange.

At the end of the month, the brand didn’t renew.

My Husband

Is it strange to see him on a list of ethical blogging considerations?

Wayne is my business manager.

I highly recommend you involve your family members in your blogging business.

There are many advantages: They can save you time doing blogging tasks you don’t have time to do since you’re busy with content creation. Also, they might help you without financial compensation which saves you money.

Wayne was a successful businessman for years before he retired. He has business acumen I don’t have plain and simple. Also, I’m a softy when it comes to negotiating prices. He isn’t.

He has helped my blog thrive since he became my business manager in August of 2018.

Wayne is so good at his job, I shouldn’t have been surprised when someone tried to hire him to do what he does for me for free.

I had a moral dilemma. On one hand, I was happy Wayne’s services were in demand but I didn’t want him to stop helping me for free.

I hoped Wayne could run both of our blogging businesses. However, Wayne felt there was a conflict of interest and turned down the offer.

Marijuana

Did you know I offer blog coaching services?

A few years back, I got a client.

She hired me to coach her to make money blogging.

During the course of one of our coaching sessions, she revealed she was an off-line speaker about hemp products.

Marijuana had just been legalized in my state of California and was rapidly getting legalized around the United States.

During what should have been our coaching session, I received an idea for a blog post: How do bloggers write about controversial issues?

I started interviewing her. The interview went on during the crux of what should have been her coaching session.

Do I pursue the interview and get material for my blog post or do I stay professional and help her as I was hired to do?

My ethical blogging decision: Help the client or myself?

What you could do instead:

My client and I rescheduled her coaching session and I continued to interview her. Win-win!

Marketing During a Pandemic

My business partner Peter Nyiri and I had this conversation the other day.

I maintained it was wrong to market our blogging academy during a pandemic, and he explained he was making money from blogging in other ways during the Coronavirus outbreak.

He was correct. I heard from other sources it is okay to make money during a pandemic. You just shouldn’t make money from the pandemic.

Exploiting people is wrong.

Irrelevant Content

Recently, someone offered me a large sum of money to publish his content about how to find someone to date on a social media site.

This is a blogging tips site; not a dating tips site!

Do I take the money and dilute my brand?

What would you have done?

What you could do instead:

I asked him to rewrite his content to fit my niche.

Here’s how it worked out:

He didn’t, and I never heard from him again.

Black Hat SEO

An expression goes, “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.”

In this case, “A blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do” would be more fitting.

I have repeatedly advised bloggers: If you want people to pay you to publish your content, you need to boost your Domain Authority Ranking.

Content creators want to pay to sponsor content so their content gets to the top of Page 1 on Google.

How do you boost your Domain Authority Ranking?

Get links from quality sites.

Link Swaps

Bloggers who have been around a while know that in order to boost their Domain Authority rankings, they need to build links.

Therefore, when people send me queries asking to swap links with me, I have an ethical blogging consideration.

Why?

Google doesn’t like link swaps. It looks to Google like we’re trying to game the system to get more search engine visibility.

A link swap: You link to my site, and I’ll link to your site.

The truth: That’s exactly what we’d be doing, and precisely what you’ll be doing if you engage in link swaps, trying to work the system to your advantage.

This is an example of Black Hat SEO, inappropriate SEO methods.

What you could do instead:

There is something called an ABC Swap. This means you don’t swap links directly. You swap links indirectly. Post 1 links to Post 2 of the other blogger. The other blogger links to a different post belonging to Blogger 1.

This is considered Gray Hat SEO. Yes. It’s still gaming the system, it’s just not so cut and dry.

Note: I am not recommending you participate in Black Hat SEO or Gray Hat SEO. I’m sharing options for you.

Selling Links

As I said, “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.” I have to pay my blogging bills.

I won’t bore you with my laundry list of blogging expenses.

When people offer me money to link to their site…

What to do? Google doesn’t like you to look like you’re gaming the system.

What you could do instead:

People advise not advertising that you sell links.

Note: I am not advertising that you sell links. If you link to an unsavory site, Google could penalize you with a loss of visibility for this as well.

Wrapping Up: Ethical Blogging Considerations

In closing, for five and a half years, I have tried to stay in my lane and offer my tips to the best of my ability.

Yet, every so often, ethical blogging considerations rear their ugly head and decisions must be made.

This post explained how I solved 9 ethical blogging problems.

By reading my rationale for making the decisions I made when faced with ethical blogging considerations, hopefully, you will be better prepared for how to solve comparable dilemmas you might find yourself in.

Note: When it comes to ethical blogging, there is no right and wrong. This post offered you possible solutions.

I look forward to your views in the comments section: Have you ever had an ethical blogging concern? What was the situation? How did you handle it?

Readers, please share so bloggers faced with these ethical blogging situations are better prepared for how to handle them.

This post was made possible by the support of our readers.

  1. Biosheer Body Wash

    Hey, your there 9 decision will make everyone an ethical blogger. Many peoples go on the wrong way to get more traffic and income, and then they penalized by google. This will help them. Thank you.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Biosheer,
      Thanks for commenting on my post.
      I’m glad you feel my advice will help people make ethical blogging decisions.
      Janice

  2. Natalie Portman

    Great post very helpful for me thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience

  3. Hazlo Emma

    Janice,
    I would like to add my two cents on bots!
    After a recent encounter with Pinterest, it is fair to say that autobots are here to stay because all these platforms on the internet use them irrespective of them ‘banning’ users from using them. There are ethical ways to engage bots and there are unethical ways to engage bots. Imagine a bot auto publishing all your content without you ever having to lift a finger! All these content that you had been offered would have been published without a ‘censor.’ The cost benefit ratio of bots may not always work in your favour.
    I have queued the post to share online.
    H Emma | https://thextraordinarionly.com

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Hazlo!
      I appreciate the comments!
      I agree bots are here to stay. Consider how many websites have them. I used to have one on my site but no one talked to my chatbot so I took her down.
      You mentioned content. Have you heard of Articoolo? It’s a writing bot.
      Thanks for sharing my post!
      Janice

  4. Amrita

    I too like to keep blogging ethically.Its best for long term blog health and goals

  5. Navin Rao

    Wonderful point Janice on Ethical blogging. certainly, anyone can blog, but blogging with ethics what makes bloggers separate from others.

    Although, it can be understood that blogging is also considered as a business, But, even it requires to do things in a legit way. Irrelevant blog posts banners, links are something that can offend the reader.

    And one should be focus on those things if they want to be in blogging for the long run. Involving family into blogging business is also my take away from this blog posts. Awesome one. Stay blessed

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Navin,
      Thanks for your compliments on my article.
      You mentioned the soccer ball: When I was first approached, I guess my ego got in the way. I was so excited about having a banner ad, I didn’t hesitate but to agree. Yet, when I saw the big ball at the top of my blog for a month, I don’t know about anyone else, but I was offended. I’m glad it’s gone.
      I’m glad you agree it helps to involve family members in order to save time and find new skill sets.
      Thanks for reading what I published and leaving a thoughtful comment.
      Janice

  6. Umer Idrisi

    Hi,

    Here to share one thing, link swapping is happening now more than the old days and now there are many services for this, they ask you to publish their guest posts and agree on a price per post. Then they send irrelevant content.

    That’s frustrating and some bloggers are ruining their blogs with such content. I hope we will learn to judge these link-makers soon.

    Thanks!

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Umer,
      It sounds like what I wrote resonated with you. I often resort to rewriting the post with relevant content. The “link-builders” usually are just happy their links stays in and don’t care. This takes my time for which I get no further compensation.
      Janice

  7. Lee CJ

    Hi, Thanks for your article, we are one of those business that probably causes ethical issues to bloggers and writers, not so much in the fact we are doing anything wrong, but The Condom People as it says in its name can often cause embarrassment, ethical dilemmas, in some countries be frowned upon as its birth control as well as STI prevention. We speak to so many bloggers who simply can’t be associated with the brand because of ethics. We simply say is buying a condom not similar to buying any other sanitary product…

  8. Mitch Mitchell

    Hi Janice. Over the course of all the years I’ve been blogging, I only did one seemingly unethical thing, and I ended up getting penalized for it. In 2009 or 2010 (I can’t remember exactly which year) I signed up for something called Text Link Ads. It sounded legitimate at first, but in a few months time I read that Google didn’t like people paying for ads that didn’t match the content of the site.

    However, I was making over $600 a month and the money was helpful, so I kept it going for a few more months… until Google hit me with a penalty, stripping my ranking and making it harder for my articles to show up on their search engine. The money went away, the company eventually folded, and it took about 6 months for Google to start treating me right after that. I’ve totally gone in the other direction since then. I want to make money but I refuse to accept guest posts from people I don’t know, I won’t accept paid posts of any kind and I’m not writing paid review articles either. Of course I’m also not making any money and I don’t have Adsense revenue anymore either… which doesn’t pay well any for a blog about blogging. lol It’s only within the last year that my traffic feels like it’s getting close to what it was 10 years ago; I’m not jeopardizing that ever again.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Mitch,
      Great to see you here! Thanks for coming by!
      I appreciate you sharing your story with us.
      Your experience is an important reminder not to try to upset Google.
      You wrote: Google didn’t like people paying for ads that didn’t match the content of the site
      Years ago, I signed up for Google Adsense. I stopped in part due to the unrelated ads.
      Maybe it’s not the same since I never paid for those ads. They were to pay me.
      However, the small amount of money didn’t make it worth slowing my site.
      I appreciate the warning though: Don’t try to game the system.
      Janice
      I switched to Media.net that promised me related ads but many weren’t. I wonder if this would have angered Google.

      • Mitch Mitchell

        I just checked out Media.net and looked at a few reviews. Looks like they work well together, but I’m wondering what kind of ads they’d add on a blog about blogging lol That’s probably the issue I ended up having with Adsense years ago.

        • Janice Wald

          I remember a Blogging guide for dummies book… However, when there was a diet ad using Oprah Winfrey, I immediately contacted my account manager and he removed that irrelevant ad as soon as he got the email. I recommend them.

  9. Advamps

    I am really a big fan of your blogs, your blog is really awesome and I would like to say thank you to share such good information. I have started doing your tactics. Let’s see how it goes.

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

LinkedIn
Share
Instagram
%d bloggers like this: