As publisher, I’d like to keep TeleRead that way and actually boost pay for Editor Chris Meadows and our talented writers—Paul St John Mackintosh, Joanna Cabot and Susan Lulgjuraj.
You can help. If you’ve got a first-rate product or service of interest to TeleRead community members, then contact us about running a sponsored post, clearly labeled as such. And spread the word to others. The basics:
—We don’t want hype. Instead we want how-to posts or other relevant content of the kind we’d be running anyway. Keep in mind the focus of TeleRead. We’re for tech folks who love books and booklovers who love gadgets. No thin-thighs posts! Here’s a great example, however, to help you understand what’s optimal. A few years ago a YouTube from a Sony-paid writer told how to start an e-book club for kids. While sponsored by Brand S, Lori Gottlieb’s video teemed with useful information.
—Yes, we want a nice, quiet approach, as opposed to huckstery. In our dream world we could simply go with a sponsor’s name, as if TeleRead were a racing yacht with a sail ready for The Mention (CC-licensed photo shows Oracle’s self-advertising in the 2013 America’s Cup). But we can still strive for high standards.
—A major difference from the regular posts is that you can write a sponsored one yourself or farm the task out to a ghostwriter. Or someone else can quote or otherwise mention you or your company. Are you a law firm eager to demonstrate your expertise on copyright issues? Or are you selling a useful gadget or app of possible interest to TeleRead community members? No puffery. Instead of directly ballyhooing yourself, why not serve up authoritative how-tos or other valuable information and then point people to your newsletter or e-mail list or Web site so the marketing can be ongoing? That would really be far more in line with content marketing theories from leading experts such as Joe Pulizzi. If you really really want to focus on your product or service rather than providing tips applicable to rivals as well, simply spell out the features and specs and uses, and be very specific in how you stand out. Be honest, or it will backfire mightily.
—We’ll help you fine-tune the post so the style and tone are right for our community members. We reserve the right to edit, not just reject posts we consider inappropriate for our community.
—Yes, we’ll run sponsored author Q & As with both novelists and nonfiction writers whose works might interest TeleRead community members. Just keep the signal-to-noise ratio decent. We’re also open to book excerpts. Everything must be workplace-safe.
—We must reveal who’s benefiting from the post. A few days ago we received a name-your-price offer from someone asking us to run a sponsored post on smart watch apps. Great! We were looking forward to an informative how-to that mentioned, say, a reader with text-to-speech capabilities. It was only later that the nice man came up with a little catch. We mustn’t even say the post was sponsored, much less name the sponsor (we never knew who it was). No can do! The issues here are not just ethical. They’re also legal.
—To the extent we can—we’re not hiring detectives to check out prospective sponsors—we’ll limit this service to reputable sponsors who can withstand such Google searches as scam nameofcompany. Duh! Just keep in mind that our running your post will not in the least imply an endorsement of you or your product or services. If you point to the post from your own site, you must write something like: “Five ways to read faster on your iPad (our sponsored post on the TeleRead site).”
—We won’t sell Google rankings, in effect, but rather will use nofollow links.
—We can run well-done YouTubes.
—TeleRead will not favor sponsors in our usual posts. In fact, if you’ve got a bad service or product and we mess up and let you be a sponsor, you’ll actually risk a good, healthy debunking from Chris, Paul or others.
—You’ll also risk a debunking from commenters.
—You and people with financial or other connections to you may not use the comment area to post links to your company to reinforce the post. We also ask that sponsors be selective in replying to comments.
—The comments feature is experimental. If we find that comments on sponsored posts get in the way of our regular comments, we may disable the ability to comment on such posts.
—We reserve the right to change our policies. This list is just a start.
—Payment will be in advance—ideally via PayPal.
—By paying, you show you agree to comply with our policies, especially the one forbidding misrepresentation of sponsored posts as TeleRead endorsements.
—Use of ad-blockers leaves us with no choice but to experiment with new business models. We’re after something that will improve rather than detract from community members’ experiences. A New York Times study of sponsored content—yes, the Times and other major news organizations are trying it—finds that it can be as popular as the usual editorial (warning: SC alert!).
—If we conclude that sponsored content detracts from the overall quality of the site, we reserve the right to drop the service (although we certainly hope we won’t have to, given the prevalence of ad-blockers and similar technology). You can help by submitting relevant first-rate posts for sponsorship.
(Revised Oct. 12, 2015.)