Social Spark is quickly becoming one of the most popular “paid to post” or “sponsored post” sites on the web. Bloggers can set their own price for reviews, and can earn substantial amounts of money (especially if they receive a high amount of traffic).
Bloggers can not only find advertisers looking for paid reviews, but the blogger can build his or her own brand in the process by making advertisers aware of their site. In addition, each paid review you write will increase your blog content, and that can drive search engine traffic to your blog over time (which may enable you to gain readers).
In addition, Social Spark stands out among paid to blog companies, and this is why I chose them over other competitors. Unfortunately, Social Spark also has a few pitfalls, which is why after trying them out, I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the financial rewards to post so many reviews on my website. Ultimately, I wanted to provide as best content as I can to my readers, and many opportunities were simply too low of quality.
What I Like About Social Spark
These were the features that I thought made Social Spark unique compared to most other “sponsored post” sites:
- They use a “no-follow” tag on all outgoing links. If you weren’t aware of this, Google will penalize your blog if you accept paid links without the no-follow tag. This means that if you join other “paid to post” sites, and accept money for writing posts with do-follow links, you can lose your PageRank (and traffic). Social Spark is one of the few “sponsored post” companies that allow you to write content without fearing PageRank penalties. This was a big factor for me. So each post you write will contain the no-follow tag on all outgoing links. Nice.
- Honest Reviews–I like the fact that you can include an honest review of products. I plan on giving honest and detailed reviews of all companies and products I deal with. I will do my best to highlight all of the good things. I will also be honest and give constructive/helpful criticisms on things I feel they can work on. I never want to be rude to companies paying for a review, but I do want to be honest. There must be a balance in my opinion. No post should be 100% positive, and no post should be 100% negative. I won’t accept a paid opportunity that I feel I can’t give an honest or balanced review about.
- Full Disclosure–In the crazy world of the web, it can be difficult to know if a post is a genuine opinion, or if someone is just pitching a product (and receiving compensation). With Social Spark, you are required to fully disclose the fact that you are being compensated. I think this is amazing and every blogger should fully disclose when they are being compensated for writing a review. This is just what the web needs. Every site should have a Code of Ethics like Social Spark.
Things I Think Social Spark Can Improve
No company is perfect (and no blogger is perfect either). So there are a few things I think Social Spark could do to make sure they are THE BEST “sponsored post” company on the web. Here are my recommendations:
- Faster Customer Service–The customer service people (I think they call it “customer love”) are very friendly and do a great job at answering your questions in detail. However, it does take time. It took a few days to get my blog verified (which was originally rejected). I re-submitted it today and I hope to get re-verified soon. Also, it did take a couple of days to get a reply on a question. I do realize that they must be busy, and when I used to run a business on eBay, I would get a massive amount of the most absurd questions all day. So I can sympathize with them in that regard. But if they speed up the response time that would awesome. But again, at least they fully answer in great detail your questions, and the woman I spoke with (Carri), did a great job.
- Clarification on Terms and Conditions–One of their rules state that you must have 20 posts within the last 90 days. It confused me the way it was worded, and I thought it meant your blog must be 90 days old, and have at least 20 posts. So when my blog verification was rejected (I had less than 20 posts in the last 90 days because I recently moved into a new house) I was a bit disappointed. I was disappointed because my blog is nearly 3 years old, and I have almost 300 quality posts written. After I re-read it, I understood that I did indeed make a mistake. But I think that they could perhaps make the phrasing less confusing. Also, I feel that the amount of posts in the last 90 days shouldn’t be such a big factor. In my opinion, as long as a blog is updated occasionally and gets traffic, that should be all that counts. I do agree that blogs should be at least a few months old and have a certain number of posts (to prevent new/scraper sites from joining). But that was my only suggestion about the terms/conditions and verification process.
- Create a Video or eBook Tutorial–I consider myself to be fairly web savvy, but I did have some confusion once I joined. First, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t participate in most opportunities (I later found out that it was because my blog wasn’t verified yet). It kept saying “you must be added to the blogroll to take this opp.” That was very confusing to me. I also had a lot of questions, and had a difficult time finding the answers. They do have a FAQ page, but I couldn’t find many of the answers I had. I think it would really help bloggers (and perhaps reduce the number of email questions they get), if they created a few YouTube videos that newly registered users could watch to understand how the service works. An eBook would work as well. I think this would not only help newly registered bloggers understand how to use the service, but it would also cut down on email inquiries they receive. It would also be a great self-promotion tip (as they could post these videos on the internet to increase traffic and awareness).
- Quality of Posts–Some sponsors are just low quality. It can be a full-time job finding a review company that offers a quality product or service, while at the same time offering a compensation that is worthwhile.
Conclusion: Social Spark May Be a Good Fit For Some, Not for Others
They are a fairly new company, and I think they could still work on a few things such as customer service time, clarifying/modifying their terms and conditions, and also make it easier for new users to understand how the service works.
I will be posting on occasion about my ongoing experiences with Social Spark, but so far it seems like this is going to be a great addition to my blogs. If you are a blogger looking for a way to increase your revenue, I would definitely Sign up for SocialSpark.
UPDATE: 1/15/2011–I no longer support this program, or take part in it. After joining, I found it frustrating to ever find an advertiser on the site offering a commission worthwile. Furthermore, the site was confusing trying to find opportunities, and seemed to waste time. Therefore, I no longer take part in the program, and I cannot recommend it.