With bloggers reviewing everything from hotels to beauty products to baby strollers these days, brands are willing to pay for such seemingly spontaneous word of mouth.
Enter the blog post-advertorial: sponsored blog entries involving free or discounted trips and products, and around which an entire ecosystem has sprung up - from bloggers' agents to companies that liaise with and supply bloggers with goodies.
Public relations firms say that as social media marketing takes off, they now draft formal agreements between their clients and bloggers: A typical contract covers the required number of posts and pictures, and the types of social media channels that will be used by the blogger, in exchange for payment in cash or kind.
Yet, with paid blog posts becoming increasingly common, surfing through blog reviews becomes more complicated too.
Housewife Jenny Tan, 32, who looks at food blogs regularly, finds that she constantly has to evaluate what she reads: "If the blogger is supplied a particular food item and is paid to use it, then how credible are the recipes, since he is obliged to say the item is good?"
So does a paid post, which is not flagged clearly by the blogger as such, affect a blog's credibility? Would one feel obliged to write only good things if the stuff is free? SundayLife! asks these questions and more of some prominent local bloggers:
The bloggers' market
Blogger Wendy Cheng, aka Xiaxue, a former personal assistant to a doctor, started blogging full-time in 2005. She now has about 40,000 daily visitors to her blog, and says she can make a five-figure sum in good months.
Ms Cheng, 30, says she used to approach brands she liked and offer them coverage. These days, however, clients such as Subaru and L'Oreal go to her. She receives up to five requests for event coverage a day.
Similarly, full-time blogger Brad Lau, 27, who goes by the online moniker ladyironchef and runs the site with his fiancee Melody Yap, 25, says he receives so many invitations to go for free tastings that he no longer accepts them.
"We need to prioritise our paying clients," he says. He does campaigns with clients, which he declines to name, marketing their products with their approved messages.
His Ladyironchef blog, started seven years ago, gets an average of 2.5 million page views a month.
Nuffnang, a blog community and blogger management agency, was set up in Singapore in 2007 and helps its network of about 60,000 blogs monetise their space.
Says Ms Yang Hui Wen, Nuffnang's regional director: "Advertisers know that bloggers' influence and opinions may be valuable tools that they can incorporate into their plans to generate online chatter, spark opinions and create an image for their brand.
"Blog marketing is almost always in the marketing plan now."