The Price -- And Value -- Of Being Controversial

Posted on September 27, 2008 8:00 AM by Joel Comm

Recently, I wrote a post laying out what I think of multi-level marketing (MLM). I thought long and hard before I wrote that post. I knew that there would be a lot of people who wouldn't like it. I knew that some people might even stop reading my blog as result of it.

And I also knew I wanted to write it.

The easiest way to deal with controversial topics on a blog is... to avoid them. They carry the risk that you'll lose readers, respect and income. If people stop reading your site because they didn't like what you said on a topic about which they feel strongly, you could get fewer clickthroughs and a smaller check from Google.

Usually though, the opposite happens. People love a controversy and they respect people who aren't afraid to speak their mind. Just think of all the radio presenters being paid a fortune to say exactly what they think, with no holds barred.

If you hold an opinion strongly enough to want to share it, there's a good chance that there will be enough people out there who agree with you to keep your advertisers happy.

But I don't think that's a good reason to write on controversial topics. Stir up a fight because you think a fight is good for your clickthrough rate and you'll find online publishing to be much harder and much less fun that it should be.

It's perfectly possible to create a very good income from AdSense without putting anyone off.

The only reason you should speak out on a controversial topic is because you think it's important. Yes, you should consider what effect voicing your opinion could have on your bottom line -- and if your post is going to seriously drive it down, maybe you should save it for a private, non-profit site -- but ultimately, you should be able to say exactly what you think... and without worrying about the effect on your site's finances or your image.

While you might not make more money from a controversial post, you should show that you're the sort of person who gives their honest opinion. And that's a good basis for any blog.

See Also

How Nice is Your Niche? - May 14, 2007
When Good Users Go Bad - Mar 31, 2008
When Good Users Go Bad - Sep 15, 2008

6 Comments For This Post

  1. carol stanley Says:

    As many..I have done several mlm..Not amway...but enough to realize the downside..Like the first ones make the bucks..and the attrition rate is enormous...There are only a few who really work..and eventually they quit..THe promises of 20k a month are so ridiculous..Now I am sure many might reach that pinnacle...There are many in favor of this type of biz..generally low cost start up, it is your own business, and you have to sell your heart out with so many rules and regs...SO being a free wheeling biz no way...I know the starters of Arbonne..and they are doing quite well..First of all sometimes these products are very pricy due to the many mouths that are fed...Just my two of FOr Kids 59.99 & Over

  2. Normal Joe Says:

    I didn't see the post, but I believe in speaking my mind. I'm not a controversy seeker though, I just speak what I feel. I'm always trying to find the good in things and bring that out.

    But, most know, I won't shy away from going against the crowd just to save a few readers lol. I think, that can be a good thing, IF that has been your style from the beginning.

    My readers know I'm gonna keep it real, they expect that.

  3. Harjit Irani Says:

    I have been into mlm before and lost a lot of money. But the advantage is that it makes you confident. Mlm teaches you a some qualities that you learn by being into business. So no hard feelings there.

  4. Chanuka Erdita Says:

    I agree that starting a controversial topic should not ever be based upon how it will affect click-through rate. Not being able to express our personal opinion I think is a form of "indecision," trying to play it safe and please everybody. By being honest, first to ourselves, we are taking a stand in what we believe in and by doing that, we are attracting the exact kind of crowd we want to attract, may it be both the pros or the cons. It's good. We want these kind of people to gather around our blog. Because the pros would be the ones who help us in marketing our blog and the cons are the ones who provide the comments or further questions as inspirations for future topics.

  5. Lovely Obanor Says:


  6. arya Says:

    Nice article, you are the best adsense man.

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