As a commentator and adviser, I act as an independent advocate for my clients when choosing software and service options. I am occasionally paid by vendors for product R&D purposes as well as for speaking engagements; more often than not, I will forgo payment - although I will accept travel budget assistance which is quite standard in the IT industry.
Several vendors offer me referral programs / agreement if their solution is ultimately selected by a client in a situation where they were not already engaged with the prospective client. At conferences I am predisposed to picking up diaries & pens and other marketing gimmicks/SWAG (much to my wife's chagrin), but the use of a vendors pen does and should not reflect as an endorsement of said vendors product.
I built my business on being fiercely independent and this is reflected in how my articles are written and my clients advised.
I do not - sadly in retrospect - own shares in any companies I write about - my stockholdings are limited to what is contained in my superannuation fund (currently Colonial First State) the choice and investment of which shares are bought & sold, I have no control of.
If you have any questions, drop me a line.