Pay for blogging? Bitch, please.
I don’t know about you all, but I am so over the “new media” notion that blogging grows in a magic orchard on pretty trees and therefore should be free of charge. Um, it’s called WORK, fools. Anyone else continue to run into this problem?
We at Bitch know firsthand that it’s tough to find the money to pay for bloggers sometimes. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re competing with gigantic mega blogs that can afford a large staff, and we’ve struggled with the option of “letting people” blog for free on our site. (Keep in mind, we are a nonprofit media outlet with about one-billionth the budget of Forbes over here.) We’ve always decided against it though, as have lots of other great sites who fight the good media fight by paying for content.
This isn’t so much a rant against Forbes (hey, I thought their recent article on the richest fictional characters was kind of awesome, though now I’m wondering if they paid for that content) as it is an attempt to continue the dialogue about working in new media. If we don’t put our collective bloggy feet down and say, “Hell no! We won’t work for free!” then the very real fear is that no one will be able to carve out a living in this messy new media landscape.
To my mind, it is straight-up exploitation (especially in this economy) to dangle the carrot of “exposure” in front of someone to get them to write content for your website for free. (This obviously doesn’t apply to personal blogs that don’t turn any profit whatsoever. Even on the Bitch blogs, which are ad-free, we’re still trying to get you to subscribe so there is some financial motivation involved.) Of course someone who is looking for work or trying to get a career off the ground will be tempted to take that offer, but to what end? So that they can get a few hundred (or even a few thousand) hits on a blog post that makes money for someone else? I get it that there is a “pay your dues” time period in most professions, but asking someone to lend their professional services free of charge is way beyond that, IMHO.
Clearly we are in a new era when it comes to media (hence “new media”) and we’re still figuring some of this stuff out. But how can we expect professional writers (who would have written for print publications before that whole situation went pretty much belly-up) to write for free to keep the flow of information going? Where will the quality come from? Does anyone have any experience with this phenomenon? Does blogging for free for a media organization pay off in the long run because of the exposure it can give you? Or is it just furthering the notion that bloggers don’t need to get paid? (We have to pay rent too, people. Keep it in mind.) Help me out here – what do you think?