Share The Wealth Arianna

Like tens of thousands of people on twitter, I've been following Chris Brogan . I read this tweet and found an article on Lost Remote, which provided a link to this article on New York/Around Town.

It seems that Arianna Huffington thinks that with so many people being laid off now, it provides them more time to blog for her for free. As you can see, I'm intentionally not linking to her blog and immediately after I publish this post, I'm taking her blog off of my sidebar links.

According to a Gawker article, Ms. Huffington just raised $25 million dollars in venture capital funds. And she apparently doesn't pay her bloggers.

She obviously values the content that her bloggers provide. So when people are providing a valuable service for her, why can't she can't pay them even a small amount, like fifty dollars per post? What kind of madness is this? Well, actually I guess it's greed.

I know that blogging for her provides exposure for the writer, but exposure doesn't pay the rent or mortgage, food, electric, gas, Visa, MasterCard or American Express bill. Or the student loan. Exposure is great, but it takes time to pay off. These are dire times.

Bloggers are writers. Writers provide a service that is valuable. When they provide that service for a business making millions of dollars, they should be compensated by that multi-million dollar business. I am thoroughly disgusted.

I'll stop my rant, because I have to find a cookie recipe so that I can bake them for a party tonight. I'll be blogging about the cookies soon.

*Updated 12/7/008* You can probably tell that this topic has me fired up. Here is some additional reading for you, if you're interested.

I commented here in a similar discussion with some great feedback. Read the entire BlogHer post called Blogging for free: Would you do it? That post generated a great deal of discussion with 40 comments.

There is another interesting post on Freelance Writing Jobs with 65 comments regarding pay for freelance writers. The post is called FWJ Poll: Let’s Try This Again - What Do You Earn as Freelance Writer?

I also wrote a Guest Post on FWJ about the idea of money and writing called The Essence of a Writer, which you can read here.

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Anonymous said…
So when people are providing a valuable service for her, why can't she can't pay them even a small amount, like fifty dollars per post?

But if people are willing to write content for her site for free, she doesn't need to pay them. Or perhaps they're willing to write content for her to get exposure on a widely read blog.

When they provide that service for a business making millions of dollars, they should be compensated by that multi-million dollar business.

But they new that they were not going to get paid when they wrote their posts. Or did I miss something? If people are willing to write for free for her blog I can't really see blaming her for that. Nobody is forcing them to write for her and in the end you usually get what you pay for.
Lisa Johnson said…
chris - Okay, I went off on Arianna a little bit. She's not the only person doing this, but I still disagree with the practice. Just because she CAN do it doesn't make it right.

It becomes that much harder for writers to be paid when they offer their services for free. It devalues the work of other writers who need the money.

Yes, writers who work for free know what they are doing, so it is their fault too. But I'm sure most of them are hoping that they will be paid for their writing services at some point in the future. They are counting on the exposure and working hard hoping it will pay off.

I believe that it should be a common practice in the blogosphere to pay writers a fair sum for their services. Not just a pittance.

I've heard of companies paying one dollar and five dollars per post. That is downright disrespectful. And like you said, I'm sure that after people have turned out dozens of posts and don't even have fifty dollars, the quality has sunk very low.
Anonymous said…
Of course talented and skilled writers still get paid work from other sites/magazines/newspapers where I expect a higher quality of writing. I'm not looking for the Huffington Post to be the NY Times by any means and if Huffington doesn't ante up and actually pay writers, she'll end up with either up and coming writers who are looking for exposure or just low quality content.

The other thing is don't be too quick to discount the publicity that they can get from writing on a high profile site. I've been linked to before from the HuffPost and it certainly brought a lot of traffic to my site which in turn drove up ad revenue for me. So I'm certain that writers for Huffington are getting exposure or traffic to their own blogs which make up for a fee.

I guess the main reason why I disagreed with you was because nobody is forced to write for free. If nobody wrote for the HuffPost for free, they would have to start paying.

Now where is that cookie post? I've got my milk ready.
Anonymous said…
I'm of two minds about it. The line between blogging and journalism is blurring in lots of ways-- witness all the "blogs" showing up on newspaper websites. I somehow don't think those writers are being paid more to produce extra content, and if they're good writers, they put as much time into their posts as they do to their pieces.

Blogging's a labor of love to begin with, but when the passion becomes one that's also informative, emotionally important to readers, or newsworthy, then yes-- payment should be an option, not just sidebar ads.

A. Huff has always rubbed me the wrong way-- she's out to make money, and she pretends toward journanlism. I do think she should pay her writers, benefits of exposure aside.
Lisa Johnson said…
chris - I'm sure that exposure on her site would bring in thousands if not millions of visitors. That's great, but when you're relying on ad revenue on your own blog for money instead of payment for freelance writing that money is limited.

From what I see, the check is only monthly for one thing. So even if she linked to my blog right now and I got 10 million visitors today, I wouldn't get any money for a month in terms of ad revenue. And in December, that time can matter.

Some of the revenue depends on how many people clicked on my ads. Most people don't click on the ads. Sure page views generate money, but not like getting a payment for writing. I mean when it comes down to it, you're right. She's not paying her bloggers, because they're doing it for free. I just hate to see writers' work devalued.

And those cookies are coming up soon! I hope you're milk is still cold. These cookies are perfect for dunking! ; )
Lisa Johnson said…
bipolarlawyercook - Thanks for joining in the discussion! I'm really enjoying this topic.

The line between journalism and blogging is quite blurry. When a blogger chooses a subject, researches it, interviews people, provides links to sources, and writes new content based on this work, how is that so different from what a reporter does? Not much from what I see. If a blogger has done this work or written an opinion piece or personal essay for a media outlet, shouldn't they get paid for it?

Blogging is truly a labor of love. Most of us who blog, love to write. I think we almost can't NOT do it. I know that I feel that way sometimes. When I first started writing this blog, it was just because I wanted to write. If nobody else saw it, that was fine. I was writing for myself. There were no ads at first, but then I learned that there might be a way to generate some income by continuing to do what I loved. So I added them.

I truly believe that there has to be a way for people to make a living doing what they love. I’m trying to prove that in my life. I still have a long way to go. I’m not making a living blogging. That would be highly unusual for anyone. It’s paid for some groceries and a few other things. But I do get so much joy from blogging, that the money, even though it’s a small amount, makes me really happy too.

But there is a difference between my writing on my own blog out of love and generating some small income and me blogging for a large media outlet like HuffPost. If they have the money and they can pay, they should pay. I can see where there might be some exceptions where people would blog for free though. Say a smaller company or a nonprofit with not much money who says they will pay you once they generate more income. Or you may look at this writing as a way to volunteer your services as a donation to a charity. Okay, this comment is long enough. : )

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