Times are tough, and Allison's startup NonSociety has not escaped the bad economy: It's already lost a reality-show deal (Bravo declined to proceed beyond a pilot) and one of its three co-founders. This perhaps helps explain why Allison has become a "featured blogger" for "Social Media Marketing" firm Izea.
Listed on the front page, Allison helps the company advance its mission to "provide financial or material compensation to bloggers in exchange for posting social media content about a product, service or website on their blog."
Izea, in other words, pays for posts. In cash. And Allison has started working hard for one of its featured clients, Sea World, which is inviting bloggers to a press junket this week. Today on her NonSociety blog, Allison gushed about her upcoming trip to the marine park with no fewer than five exclamation marks. On Twitter she was a bit more restrained, with just one "!" (the microblogging service limits users to 140 characters, after all).
Neither of those posts included any disclosure of Allison's relationship to Izea or Sea World — even though such disclosure is required by Izea.
After a tipster pointed us evidence of Allison's shilling, we got in touch with her for comment. She's promised to get back to us.
But other bloggers, including all those laid off print journalists hoping to chase their dreams online, can draw a quick lesson: There is still money to be made in blogging, even independently. But you'll have to do some ethical soul-searching. And in the end, you'll have to disclose whatever innovative monetization techniques you settle on. Not eventually, either, but up front, right in that first post. Because if you don't, you'll get caught.
UPDATE: Yes, Allison got paid, but "THIS IS THE FIRST THING THEY HAVE EVER PAID ME FOR." The bastards! More: