Monday, September 22, 2008

Blogging for Free or Not for Free, That's the Question

Okay...don't take my word for it. I asked two "experts" if guest bloggers normally get paid for their work.

First, I asked Linda Lee, the owner of Smart Writers, Stupid Computers, a writer, speaker, educator, and expert in website design and on-line promotion and marketing. She also is the expert presenter on websites and online marketing and promotion for writers for the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Writing For Change Conference. She wanted to see the bog post Angela Hoy wrote. Here's what she had to say after reading it:

"You are going to get website traffic from this article she wrote for years!" (I liked that!)

After quite a few bits of advice on how to capitalize on the "publicity," she added:

"One more thing, I would say, 'You Want ME to Write for FREE?! Ha Ha Ha!!! Yes, I will! That's how you can promote yourself and your career online. I am in the Internet marketing community and they give out teasers, blogs and free articles ALL THE TIME to lead to better sales of other products. So she is wrong. So there!"

(You'll be reading more from Linda here in November, by the way, when she writes a blog or two for me -- for free.)

And then I asked Kevin Smokler, the editor of Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times, the San Francisco Chronicle's notable book of 2005, and the cofounder and chief evangelist of (In a previous life, Kevin was the founder of the Virtual Book Tour, and he has been a presenter at the San Francisco Writers Conference several times. While at the conference, he also offers consulting services on platform building and publishing to attendees and donates all the money he earns to the conference's scholarship program.) I asked him if it was common practice for guest bloggers to get paid for their contributions. He replied, "It is my experience that most blogs, unless run by major media, don't have the budget for paying guest bloggers. The person asked to provide a blog has the right to say 'no,' but they don't have the right to be offended by the request to blog for free. If the request comes from the NY Times, they might expect to get paid, but not if the request comes from an ordinary person. If it is that outlet's standard policy to pay for guest blogs and it is making an exception by asking a guest to blog for free, then that is offensive."

Kevin concluded by reiterating his main point: "It is my experience that, when speaking about someone who writes blogs not as a full-time profession, asking to be paid for that service is unreasonable."

Do I write blogs as a full-time profession? No. Point made. Point taken?

Enough said. I think we've exhausted the topic. No need come November for someone to write on blogging for free or for pay. We'll have more interesting things to discuss. See you then.

Don't forget: Look for this blog at in November. This year's challenge takes place there!

(By the way...the comments have pretty much stopped. I only discarded those three I've mentioned already. You've seen all the rest. Those three were nasty and not worth publishing. Suffice it to say, they sided with Angela.)


Anonymous said...

I have been following this debate with some interest and I have to say that while I respect your opinion, I agree with Angela. It is true that some bloggers and writers choose to write for free, but the operative word, for me, is “choose.” If someone volunteers to write for free, they do just that – they volunteer. It is like an attorney choosing to offer free services to writers or the elderly. Just because the attorney chooses to do this, that does not mean that anyone can approach the attorney to ask for legal advice. The attorney would likely be mystified or even offended if someone just assumed that legal advice is free simply because attorneys do pro bono work. It is the same with writing. If a writer believes in writing for money (as any professional writer does) then that writer should not expect others to write for free. If someone volunteers or offers to write for nothing, that’s fine but to request free work…eeehhhh.

Thank you for some thought-provoking reading, in any event.

Nina Amir said...

Thanks to the lovely person who chose to point out my spelling errors in this blog and ask me to correct them; I did - gratefully. She pointed out that while she doesn't usually edit or proofread for free, in my case she made an exception!