If you take a look around my site, you'll see several advertisements. These are called affiliate ads. Quite simply, I make money if you click one of the ads -- and consume one of the products (whether it be an approved credit card application or what have you). In order to get this kind of advertising, meanwhile, it is necessary to apply with the affiliate. The would-be affiliate then looks at your site and decides whether it wants to do business with you. If it does, you get a welcome note. If it doesn't, you're told to pound sand. Today I am writing about a would-be affiliate who told me to pound sand.
I'm not going to mention the company (a credit card company, by the way). That's not the point of today's story. Instead, I'm using my platform to make something very clear. I write for the benefit of my readers -- not my advertisers. I have American Express ads around this site. If American Express does something that merits a negative mention, then so be it. I write it. Although I have several Equifax ads sprinkled around this site, that didn't dissuade me from touting free Equifax FICO scores all day Wednesday. I write for my readers. I don't give my advertisers a second thought. Period. If they don't like what I write, they can pull out of the relationship.
Here is a little background about the tension that exists between advertisers and the media. If you've ever opened a newspaper, you've no doubt noticed the abundance of advertising. Indeed, about 65% of the paper is advertising. That's why you pay so little for your newspaper. Some advertisers are very important (VERY important). As a result, you don't want to piss one of them off -- for fear that advertisers will pull their ad program. Unfortunately, business interests (every now and then) get in the way of news judgment.
To be sure, not every media company bows to that kind of pressure. Some write what they're going to write, advertisers be damned. A quick search around the Internet will likely turn up a story or two about a media company having its advertising yanked because of unfavorable press coverage about the advertiser. It happens. But those are the kinds of news publications I want to write for -- and they're the kinds of news publications I want to read. I like journalistic independence.
Getting back to my own situation, my would-be ad partner decided to pass on me because of my writing slant. Apparently, my consumer-advocacy focus didn't play well with this particular advertiser. After spending time at GlobCredit.com, the ad representative reached this conclusion: "I see that you want to be a consumer advocate, but perhaps there is a more effective way to align content with advertisement." You think? Perhaps I should play nice with some of these credit card companies that I hammer on a regular basis? No thanks. Not surprisingly, my application was rejected. "At this time I cannot approve your application," this person wrote. I was invited to contact them again in the future.
I imagine that I can only contact this credit card company in the future when I have figured out how to write about credit in a way that doesn't rock the boat. It'll be a cold day in hell before that happens. I guess I won't be contacting these folks again. They're rejecting me? Out of principle, I reject them.
Meanwhile, my site exists for the sole purpose of educating my readers. Outside of the few items you purchase through the affiliate advertising on this site, I receive no compensation. None. I do what I do because I enjoy doing it. I pull no punches in my writing. I don't worry about offending card companies (affiliate or not). You get the truth and nothing but the truth. If an affiliate relationship is conditioned upon me selling out my principles, then I'll pass.
I write for my readers.
No one else.