Blogging has evolved from being a cool little hobby that might make you a little bit of money to a mega business. Some bloggers report to making six figures or more a year from their own blogs. Other bloggers earn the equivalent of a regular, family-supporting salary as a blogger for hire. Which, of course, is where we fit in.
I came across this post at Gawker called “Volunteer Bloggers, Stop Subsidizing the Entire Internet“, and saved it to talk about here because it speaks to me. It reminds me of when I first started writing online in 2000. When I began looking for places to find freelance writing work I was appalled at how many websites expected writers to work for the glory and exposure. Indeed, writing is the only profession I know of where a potential client or employer expects to get something for nothing. Now I see the same thing happening for bloggers.
Should You Blog for Free?
I’m not talking about guest posts or blogging contests, exchanging guest posts is part of the job and in most cases it’s a fair trade. I’m talking about stocking someone else blog or website with content on a regular basis and receiving nothing in return except for a byline. Meanwhile, as in the case with the AOL bloggers and the Huffington Post, the owners are earning money from advertising.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think many employers or webmasters are asking their web hosts to donate free server space. Nor do I believe their webmasters and sales teams are working in exchange for a byline. So why then, is the writer or blogger always the one to get the shaft?
Online is forever
Unlike a magazine or newspaper that is put out to be recycled, your words are online forever. That means there’s a chance folks will be reading your content every single day. In other words, it’s you and your labor who ensured the success of a particular website or blog. If you didn’t take the time to write a post that keeps them coming, if you didn’t take the time to research keywords or subject matter, mingle with the community and form just the right combination of words, there wouldn’t be any reason for anyone to visit said blog. Why then is the blogger not the one to get paid?
What’s in it for you?
Before giving away your work, find out what’s in it for you. Will you really, truly be getting good exposure or is your stint volunteer blogging for Joes Crappy Blog No One Will Read really going to bring you the glory its owner promised?
You deserve to be paid for your hard work. If you’re going to be building up someone else’s blog for free, you may as well create your own blog and collect your own advertising. Isn’t that better than letting someone else get rich from your labor?