Is there a difference between writing a great blog post and writing a great paid blog post?

There doesn’t have to be.

I always love reading the LinkPost deals that come through here. (LinkPost is our paid blog post product for those of you keeping score at home.) What’s most interesting to me is seeing all of the different approaches bloggers take when writing directly for cash. The flavor of the paid blog posts are often very different from what you’d normally read on their site.

There’s the standard “I’m getting paid to write about this particular product or service. Here’s what I think…” This can be a great approach as long as the “here’s what I think” part stays true to the voice of the blogger.

It’s also pretty common to see something like, “This product is GREAT, GREAT, GREAT” with no disclosure whatsoever. I get this approach, too, because even though the overwhelming positivity has obviously been “bought,” there is nothing there that spells it out and some advertisers find this attractive. The problem, though, is that as a reader you tend to smell “sell-out” as soon as the page loads!

Then there are always the pessimists. The bloggers who seem to hate the concept of paid blog posts (with the exception of the money being earned, of course) so every paid post they write comes across as negative. And you can see right through this approach if you’ve read enough of these. It’s almost as if the blogger is attempting to maintain his credibility by slamming the advertiser’s product or service simply because he’s being paid. But I understand this approach, too, really I do.

But the best paid blog posts, in my opinion, come from the bloggers who have a little fun and are creative in the process. One relatively new LinkWorther who has made an extraordinary impression on me is the lovely Venomous Kate. I told her earlier today that I consider her to be the poster-child for writing great paid blog posts. Why? Because you can tell by reading her work that she’s writing out of passion and having fun. And all the while she’s doing what she’s being paid to do. Go check out one of her sites and you’ll see what I mean.

Kate has a knack for infusing an advertiser’s link right into the copy of what seems to be just one of her normal blog posts that any of her regular readers would enjoy. (And you can certainly add me to that list, Kate.) She recognizes that as long as the advertiser gets what he’s paying for (the link), she doesn’t have to stray from the message she wants to get across. Paying advertiser or not, that post would very likely still be on her site. And that’s what makes her great at what she does.

I know, there’s the argument that a paid blog post is intended to create “buzz” about the advertiser and that sort of thing. But what kind of buzz does an advertiser get if the blogger trashes him? It’s more like a buzz-kill, isn’t it? And unless I’m going to sell them on a full-blown reputation management campaign after that, I’ve just done them a disservice.

My point is, just try to have some fun. You shouldn’t have to compromise yourself just because you’re accepting money for writing. It’s easy to spot phonies and as this space continues to evolve, I can see the more creative bloggers owning most of the market-share because there is no big difference between their paid and non-paid posts.