Friday, December 18, 2009

Blogger Disclosure and Food for Thought

Recently the FTC said that it would revise rules about endorsements, testimonials and advertising to include blogging and social media. Although this blog falls well outside the FTC's jurisdiction the NYT article has provided me with food for thought about the kinds of endorsements I make on this blog and how my relationship with advertisers may affect my relationship with you the reader.

Although I've been blogging for years, I first started taking this Japanese language and culture blog seriously about the same time I started teaching Japanese on eduFire. I initially saw this blog as both a vehicle for promoting my lessons and establishing some credibility as a language instructor.

If you have taken lessons with me before, please tell me what you think, I want to get to know you better.

In the past year this blog has become much more than that. It has become part of a conversation I am having with you, and the broad community of people with an interest in the culture and language of Japan. I've made so many interesting friends and been exposed to many new ways of thinking. I have lots to be thankful for, well beyond any financial reward I could ever hope to gain from blogging.

So what's the occasion?

My motivation for blogging has always been about communication and personal growth, and it will continue to be. As 2010 the year of the Tiger comes around it provides me with the opportunity to renew my commitment to you, to continue to provide top quality content and opportunities to learn about Japan and the Japanese language. I'm also making a renewed commitment to blogging for fun and for profit.

I want to be upfront about my motivations for blogging with you. I have seen friends do this kind of personal disclosure well, and others with a sense of good humour, so I thought I too would take this opportunity to connect with you.

My blog and how I make money

Just so there are no secrets, I make money from teaching people Japanese. But you knew that already right?

I had one affiliate link for SuperPass which has generated a modest number of clicks but no conversions. Now with SuperPass gone I'll be looking for ways to offer exclusive discounts and subscriptions to readers of my blog. Get in early for a subscription to my email newsletter, launching in the new year where you can learn about these discounts first.

I also make money, not a lot, in fact a very small amount of money through an the Amazon Associates program. In future I may experiment with advertising, but at the moment I'm happy with the way things are on this blog without it.

Sometimes I am offered freebies to evaluate and blog about. In these cases, I'll let you know because I think it's important you understand the relationship I have with the people behind the product. Product reviews of this type are difficult to do, but I won't shy away from telling you if a product has faults. I have a responsibility to you my reader to tell it like it is. If a product is poor quality, or if the people behind it aren't behaving ethically I simply won't blog about it.

My ethical standards.

My golden rule for endorsements is "does what I promote have real value for readers of my blog". I am also less likely to promote something I haven't used myself unless there is a compelling case for doing so. If there is anything you think doesn't quite sit right with you, please bring it up with me, because chances are others might feel the same way too.

What's in it for you?

Thanks for making it this far through this rather dry post, I will return you to your normal programming soon. There has to be something it for you for sticking with me this far:
  • Expect more workbooks, this time focussing on grammar and verb conjugations, because you asked for it. 
  • Keep an eye out for greater integration between smartfm goals, eduFire lessons and the workbooks, because the combination has worked well in the past.
  • Look out for free themed lessons on eduFire that coordinate with the exclusive content found in the newsletter.
  • Anticipate courses and course-ware that use the very latest technology and have very clear outcomes for learning.
I'm looking more ways to connect with you, to understand your needs and tailor content to help you achieve your goals. So let me know about it! What would you like to see on this blog? What lessons would you like to take? I want to hear about it in the comments, or take the survey.

Become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, grab the blog feed and sign up for the newsletter. There are plenty of ways to join in the conversation!
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