Are Bloggers Creating Their Own Sweatshop?

Oh Yes Free“I’ve been blogging for five years. Time to think about the retirement fund.”

I was having a conversation with Deb Ng of Freelance Writing Gigs on Twitter, and I smirked at her comment.

“We get to retire? No one ever told me that…”

We both know there’s no retirement fund in what we do. We’re bloggers. There’s here and now, and there’s trying to make a decent living that supports us for years to come.

It’s a bit of a joke. We blog our hearts out, pouring creativity, knowledge and advice into each post we write. We work tirelessly to put up good content that people can use to improve their income, and we don’t get paid a penny for it.

Why the hell not?

Blogging is bloody hard work. It’s long-term, it’s tiring, it’s creatively exhausting and it’s completely unpaid. It’s free. It’s done out of the goodness of our heart, our belief that we can help other people earn a better living. And from it, we get nothing.

Take this blog, for example. Set aside the services we offer, strip away the great ebooks, the recommended resources, everything but the content. What do you have?

You have a site that, three times a week, as regular as clockwork, gives readers a 700-word value-packed blog post full of insight and knowledge that’s fully tailored to benefit and improve people’s ability to earn more income and have a successful business.

Did I mention it’s free? Completely, undeniably, 100% no charge.

That’s like being able to attend a workshop given by an expert authority three times a week and learn how to improve your business without paying a penny. You get actionable value, great tips and practical advice, and plenty of good stuff that helps you succeed.

Now, that’s great. We want you to learn, to better your business, to succeed. That’s our goal with each and every post we put up on this site. It’s the reason why we put in effort to write worthy posts that each take an hour or two to create. These aren’t your average 15-minute fire-offs, folks, no matter how fast Taylor and I can type. They’re the wisdom culled of years of experience, study, and labor.

And they’re all free.

No One to Blame But Ourselves

Blogging started as personal online journals. It was free because it was idle; it wasn’t supposed to be the sort of business expertise that many companies would shell out good money for in the form of a consultant.

But business blogs started to grow and then became essential, and all the while no one stopped to think, “Wait a minute. Why are we giving away this valuable knowledge?”

Well, stop to think now: Can you walk into your local garage and ask them to teach you mechanics for nothing? Can you go to a lawyer’s office and become his apprentice without paying a dime? Could you walk into any business in your town and say, “Hey, will you teach me what you know for free? So I can do it myself and not have to pay you to do it for me?”

Of course not.

Yet blogs do just that. And we can’t go back now.

Or can we?

We’d be considered renegades to ask for payment. Selfish, even. Wrong. How dare we? Readers would be offended and insulted, according to some. Some would simply go elsewhere – pay for quality content when the next blog hands it out for nothing?

It’s not just the readers that hold us back. We’d be uncomfortable with the thought of asking readers to pay, too. No one wants to upset their readers. There’s so much hype and push these days about giving first and never asking for anything back. In fact, it’s becoming the rule, the “must do”. Everyone wants to be seen as generous and selfless.

Who said we were supposed to do that? Who started this myth that information and knowledge should be free? Who said it was smart to give a one-hour free seminar, speech or workshop almost every single day? Not authors who sell books in stores. Not experts who sell consultation time. Not businesses who sell services.

We did it. We did this to ourselves. We created our own personal sweatshops. We’ve taught people that our knowledge is worth nothing. How can we expect to charge for it now?

We can’t.

Support Sweatshop Labor

I don’t think bloggers and writers realize the mixed messages they’re giving the world, and I don’t think bloggers realize what they’re doing to themselves. Case in point…

“1$ an article! I would never accept that pay rate! That’s preposterous. That reminds me – I have to go write my free blog post now or my readers will be mad.”

“Sweatshops should be banned. They’re horrible. They take advantage of people, and mistreat them without offering fair wages. I read about them over at this blog – you should go check it out. There’s a new free post that goes up every day.”

“Charge for premium content? For a blog post? Hell, no. I won’t pay if you do that. But I will soak up any free knowledge and education then apply it to my freelancing so I can make more money…”

Yeah. This is wrong, people. Really, really wrong.

People even imply and suggest (or at least the Twitter gang did) that bloggers should be ashamed of asking for money, for any kind of payment for that solid advice and knowledge. Bloggers should be ashamed of asking for money for the posts they write, the ones that take anywhere from 3 to 15 hours of work a week.

Yet, no one feels ashamed reading their favorite blogs every day. They feel no shame learning, benefiting and profiting off someone else’s unpaid labor – without ever having to dig out a penny.

People get upset over sweatshop workers slaving away – but they think nothing of being the sweatshop owner that profits every day from every blog. In fact, many people think that’s okay.

What do you think?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. I think you nailed it.

    Fortunately for me, I’m not in it to get rich, it’s simply a way to establish public credibility and build my own intellectual property portfolio.

    And I’m not too worried about it either. Once the amount of information completely overwhelms anyone’s ability to process it, people will pay for trust.
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..Holiday Season Kicks Off – 2 Weeks in Review! =-.

  2. Dave Doolin says:
    “Fortunately for me, I’m not in it to get rich, it’s simply a way to establish public credibility and build my own intellectual property portfolio.”

    Obviously James doesn’t think he’s in it to get rich either… but I don’t
    get what he’s bitching about… I haven’t heard of anyone getting sentenced to blogging! Like Dave I consider my blog and the free course I offer to be a base for any other publishing I want to do… public credibility, yes.

    I do chafe at the high performance expectations bloggers like James are
    setting up for themselves … bloggers (like me) aspiring to provide helpful and interesting content should resist getting sucked up into a new kind of rat race!

    Bloggers of the World Unite… no bosses… no time clocks… let inspiration
    be our guide!

    Just kidding!

    Fran :)
    .-= Fran Civile´s last blog ..Why Computers Sometimes Crash! =-.

  3. Michael Martine says:

    I’m not writing for free. I’m marketing. It’s a calculated trade-off.

    With no audience, there’s nobody to sell to.

    Poor businesspeople may be creating their own sweatshop, and that would be most bloggers. Most bloggers suck at business. Most bloggers are cheap-asses.

    I’d rather work with people who self-identify as businesspeople rather than bloggers. Businesspeople understand investment, as opposed to cost. They have a budget. They actually make money, which they then pay to me so I can help them make even more from their blog.

    Sweatshop? No way, dude. :-)
    .-= Michael Martine´s last blog ..Stop Hunting Customers and Penetrating Markets – Start Speaking the Language of Caring =-.

  4. I think there are two sides to it, and it’s a very fine line between them. Yes, it’s free stuff we’re giving away and yes it’s damn hard work (and I’m only posting once a week!). And yes, it’s also marketing.

    I think the tipping point is where a blogger is blogging away and not selling – the just keep putting free content out there yet never ask for the sale. When their readers don’t actually know what they do, because they never visit the site, they simply open Google Reader or their email for the RSS feed.

    However, when the posts are used as a sales too, to attract the right people, educate them on what the person sells (even if it is just a rumour! LOL) and also sells, then it’s not sweatshop labour any more. Then it becomes a valid marketing tool.

    I know you’ve talked about how Your Readers Aren’t Buying before James, but how do you spread the word as widely as possible without the free content? How do you get ranked well in search engines without the keywords and regular visitors?

    I don’t know what the answer is (but I know you’ll have one ;-) ) I can see both sides of this. For me, I’ll keep on putting out the free content until I find a better way to get known.
    .-= Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog ..A rant on Ethics in Business, or rather, the lack thereof. =-.

  5. Just the other night, I was surprised to learn from a reliable
    website valuator that my weblog was worth a few thousand $!
    So I think we bloggers shouldn’t ask payment for our posts
    -a commenter said that money would come without asking
    if our blogs deserve it.
    We can anyway ask for donation or earn from freelance contracts.
    .-= poch´s last blog ..Rat-eating Celebs Face Charges =-.

  6. I consider blogging a platform. It’s the equivalent of a movie star signing autographs or attending their premier. They don’t get paid for the time it takes. With the autograph example, the piece of paper they just put their name on became a commodity the moment they did, but they don’t expect to get a cut of any profit should it be sold. The purpose wasn’t to make money, it was to build profile, spread publicity, build credibility, and create fan-based goodwill.

    When you’ve established yourself as a name people know and trust you have the platform to sell from. We know the “Men With Pens” so when your name goes on an e-book, print book, service, or educational product you’ve build the trust that will have us willing to shell out for a package deal. With the kind of credibility you’ve built you can ask for more than you could if you were unknown or unpopular and customers are willing to pay.

    To me, blogging has only ever been a marketing tool. It’s an ongoing press release, article marketing, a free full-page newspaper ad, it’s an interactive portfolio, etc. The blog is not a product, it’s a showcase. How much time and effort you put into your showcase is entirely up to you but if you don’t put time into your product as well as your blog, blogging becomes a hobby.

    With the term, ‘professional blogging’, I don’t see a blog that charges for content. I see one of two things, a blogger, who is paid to write content that promotes the services or products of another individual or business (ie. a freelance copywriter who writes for the web), or a person who writes content for their own blogs (usually a network not just one) and makes a profit through affiliate or product sales as a direct result of that blogs traffic conversion.

    Having said that, it could be worth a case study. People pay for all sorts of things and there are information product services that have premium content. Problogger, Darren Rowse, launched problogger.com not to long ago that offers subscriptions for $5.95 a month. There are more than 2000 members, that’s over $10,000 a month income. So, if you want to sell content, there IS a market for it.
    .-= Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog ..Twilight, New Moon, and the Gauntlet of Book-to-Movie Adaptations. =-.

  7. Utterly brilliant and totally 100% on the mark! That’s been the behind-the-scenes idea of mine now for quite awhile; I’ve tried different ways of monetizing my blogs and always seem to return back to me roots.

    The thing is with marketers, they want you to believe that ideas like membership sites are a must-have (which is true, IF you have the kind of following that compels people to pay for premium content). If not, you have to use a different technique to first build up your list/reputation/etc. and THEN consider such a move. Trust me, I know. :)

    I totally support paid content; it’s already happening in WP with premium themes. I spent $69 myself for the theme now at http://www.virtual-coach.com and consider it a wise business investment. The same thing should apply for stellar content as well (it’s still a work in progress).

    Alas, in many cases…bloggers aren’t yet up to that level, so they compile their best ideas into ebooks that they either a.) sell, or b.) give away to build their list. The money really IS in the list…so even if you don’t see premium/paid content online, you dont’ know if the blogger is doing well, money-wise, via promoting affiliate resources to their lists.

    There are many ways to make money via blogging – the actual blog posts do NOT have to be the primary way.
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..How kids REALLY have total recall – Today’s Humor of the Day =-.

  8. Bloggers like us are not offering free content, the articles are a marketing expense to get readers to pay attention to what we have to say. We are buying attention and paying for it with our writing.

    Your local pizza shop is not giving away free flyers, the flyers are to get people to buy pizzas. No flyers, no pizza business. No blog articles, no customers for our products and services.

    Blog articles are free now, but it is not going to stop there. I think we are already seeing ebooks move to free. Bloggers will continue to give away more free products of increasing quality. Ultimately, all information products will approach free. Prices always tend towards marginal costs. Only real interactions with real people are valuable. However, in the interim of these changes there are opportunities to make a lot of money. Three years ago it was with ebooks. Now it is with membership sites. Video is perhaps the next disruption.
    .-= John Bardos´s last blog ..My One Year Plan to Find a New Country and Career – Mission Accomplished! =-.

  9. As I’ve always thought with entrepreneurial endeavors, the main reason you should be getting involved is because of the love and passion of doing so. Once you lose that, you really should get out and find something else that excites you again. Any money you make in the process (or turning it into a viable full-time living) should be a luxury, an extra added bonus.

    Should you be ashamed in asking for money? Absolutely not. But I think it’s also easy to see if you got into this field for that sole purpose or are producing content for more admirable and altruistic reasons regardless.
    .-= Jordan Cooper´s last blog ..Video Professor John Scherer Was Picked Last For Dodgeball =-.

  10. I think I agree with the above statement, “the blog is not a product, it’s a showcase.” My blog is my proof of purchase. A chance to show off all of my skills and convey the sense that “hey, I can do this for you too.”

    I’m working on a membership site right now that adds onto my current blog. The idea is to expand upon the blog for a more targeted audience that needs or wants more specific help. Of course, there was some general negative feedback. One guy suggested a post, and then said “why bother? you’re just going to put it in your paid section.”

    I want to say that the standards have burned us a bit. Now that more and more people are blogging, more and more people are also producing crap. Scamming dollars and delivering bullshit to the public. So we get kind of a bad rap.

    I think we deserve to get paid, but only if it’s worth paying for. =)

  11. I disagree John. There will always be a market for paid ebooks and paid content. Why? Because bloggers have mortgages to pay, families to feed, kids to educate. We can’t afford to continue to give it away for free. Free doesn’t pay the bills.

    And there will always be different formats, because people learn differently. Some learn best by reading, some by listening. Some people like to watch the video’s on their Smartphones. Some like to use driving time listening, or the bus ride reading. There’ll never be a wholesale move to ‘just’ video or any other single format. And it’ll still be paid for.
    .-= Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog ..A rant on Ethics in Business, or rather, the lack thereof. =-.

  12. James,

    I love the post and MM’s comment: “I’m not writing for free. I’m marketing.”

    Because both things are true. Blog readers are generally not paying customers. If I run a good direct mailer, I expect a 1–3% response rate. In a whole *year* of posts, I get about that response rate from readers, for the same offer (and sometimes a better offer, like right now).

    However for me, pointing offline customers and non-readers to the blog has been very valuable.

    It sometimes pains me for a minute that there isn’t a more direct cause-and-effect between my writing and the response rate with readers, BUT—

    —I didn’t get into writing the blog for that. I got into it because I know that the world is very big and my time is a very exclusive commodity, and I wanted to be able to spread the word a lot wider than I ever can one client at a time.

    So, yes, I’d like more return. I can’t deny it, I’m not that selfless. But in the meantime I’m getting exactly what I originally hoped for out of blogging, on a schedule I set, and in a setting where I call all the shots.

    What else in life is like that?

    Regards,

    Kelly
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Why *You* Should Work for FREE =-.

  13. I agree with Rebecca that blogging is a platform and that platform may very well be to find an entry level job or it might be used as a showcase as another person suggested to sell your products and services. I also agree with Corey that bloggers should be paid if it’s worth paying for. I certainly wouldn’t baulk at paying a subscription fee if I was interested in the content.

  14. Hi Melinda,

    Thanks for responding to my comment!

    I agree that free doesn’t pay the bills, but the problem is that it doesn’t matter what we want. What counts is what the market will pay for.

    Try charging a subscription for your blog when the rest of the world is blogging for free. New bands can’t sell their CDs because few if any want to buy them. GM wants to sell their cars for higher prices so they can actually make a profit, but customers don’t really care.

    Seth Godin said it well,

    “should we want free to be the future?”
    “Who cares if we want it? It is.”
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/06/malcolm-is-wrong.html

    I agree that it won’t be a wholesale move to a single format, that is not what I meant. I am talking about the quality of everything will continue to increase while more and more is offered for free. Making high quality video is still difficult, that is why I think it is the future. Albeit it is not the only one.

    Thanks again for continuing the dialogue!
    Best Regards
    .-= John Bardos´s last blog ..My One Year Plan to Find a New Country and Career – Mission Accomplished! =-.

  15. It’s like the newspaper industry, they don’t make money from the content. It’s the ads. That’s why some publications are free.
    .-= Angela ´s last blog ..Two days late =-.

  16. I agree with what John said – in fact, if I wouldn’t have read through all the comments thus far, I probably would’ve said the exact same thing re: Pizza shops and their free flyers.

    I also like to think of the blog as a better stand-in for “spec work.” I know that it’s not quite like this yet, but instead of someone saying, “Why don’t you take an hour out of your day and write up a test page for us that we might use and if we do use it we might pay you?” they could just look at your blog and say, “Oh, I see that you’ve already written on this topic before. You’re hired.”

    I think being a web writer is a unique enough profession that it warrants a significant rethinking of what marketing should be. The analogy about free flyers from your local pizza joint comes very close – but it doesn’t quite match up 100% because the business of blogging or web writing is a very strange beast. All a pizza joint has to do to get people in the door is to advertise their low prices and maybe show a mouthwatering picture of a crusty, melty slice.

    But as writers, we can’t really elicit that kind of appeal as easily. We can’t just take a picture of our services (so to speak) and slap a 50% off sticker on it. Having a blog is the closest we can come to putting an appetizing photo of our wares on a flyer. It gives prospective clients a little taste.

    That being said, I think in cases such as Men With Pens, it really helps to be seen as an authority in the industry. That’s kind of been an issue discussed here before – why bother writing a blog that is mostly read by other bloggers, virtually none of which are going to bother hiring a blogger.

    The value in that is that by writing this blog that has a bajillion subscribers and rollicking conversations in the comments, you are clearly seen as a thought-leader in the field of blogging.

    If you were looking for a real estate agent, who would you go with? The guy who’s read every book by Mr. Real Estate and makes it to every one of his conventions? Or would you rather hire Mr. Real Estate himself?

    With all that being said, I don’t have a blog on writing myself. I don’t know why. But I will say I never get clients knocking on my door out of the blue – all my clients thus far have been by referral (or via job boards). As of now, my website is more like a business card – something I can point prospective clients towards after I’ve already made initial contact. For MWP clients, I imagine some of them were first introduced to you through this blog or the buzz surrounding it.
    .-= Jack Busch´s last blog ..Travel Zen: How To Avoid Making Your Vacation Seem Like Work =-.

  17. Sorry – with all that being said, I would totally pay an occasional buck for a good read. It’s like my local NPR station says during their pledge drive:

    “Keep a jar in your dashboard cupholder and every time you hear a song you really like or an episode of This American Life that really moves you, put a quarter in. At the end of the year, mail it in to us. Even that much will help immensely.”

    I think if even a fraction of your subscribers followed that model, you would by no means be blogging for $1 per post. It’d probably be more like $50 to $100 per post.
    .-= Jack Busch´s last blog ..Travel Zen: How To Avoid Making Your Vacation Seem Like Work =-.

  18. Wow, some interesting comments going up already – let’s see how many I can respond to:

    @ Angela – Yes, newspapers are complaining. And they’re going out of business. People are losing their jobs, journalists aren’t getting paid and no one can earn a living.

    My question: Just because it IS, does that make it right or unchangeable?

    @ John – I think that may be reframing what Seth said. Does it matter what we want? As far as I’m concerned, yes. Because if I want to achieve a goal, I don’t sit around telling myself, “Your goals don’t matter, James. Don’t bother.”

    Too, just because Seth is saying “looking at the situation right now, the future is FREE,” doesn’t mean that we can’t change the situation and make the future into something else. Nothing in life is written in stone.

    @ Ray – Aye, there’s many different ways to view what a blog is and isn’t and what we can do with it. Exploring all those angles is what I hope this post kicks off!

    @ Kelly – I think my thoughts here are that you can afford to do what you want. You’re still setting your own rules and you don’t have a larger audience making demands on you and setting expectations that you have to meet.

    True, of course, that everyone has the right to make their own choices. But I think some people have an easier time of making those choices with less consequences, mm?

    @ Melinda – I recently paid $500 for a course. The first topic went up… in audio format. I sat and waited for nearly two weeks without even having a listen, because I wanted the PDF transcription I could read, simply because I don’t like audio.

    @ Corey – I agree that a blog can be a showcase. But showcases don’t need to be constantly changed daily, I think, to be effective.

    And yeah. Bad rap indeed. Death to really crappy content, eh?

    @ Jordan – Good thoughts, but I have a different opinion. I really don’t think that if we ask for money, we’re betraying the passion and love of our talents. That’s a bit of a purist attitude, I think – art is about beauty, not money… Well, beauty doesn’t pay my bills. I’ll go for ugly, in that case :)

    @ John – My local pizza shop does not set up daily deliveries of free food as a marketing strategy. Limited time offer discounts, periodical sales, and fliers four times a year. They LIMIT their “free”, and still get plenty of bang for their buck.

    Actually, I think if my local pizzeria invested as much free as bloggers do into its business, it would probably very quickly be bankrupt and close.

    @ Barbara – I agree that trust of value and quality has to be there first, or the whole thing would totally flop. And yes, many are already charging for premium content, but I think that more should be doing so, perhaps.

    Even if that does mean I’d have to contemplate where to put my money, because there wouldn’t be enough for me to pay for everything I currently read now. Then again, I’d have a lot more time on my hands to do other things and improve the biz, yeah?

    @ Rebecca – Everyone go read her comment. I’m just sitting here nodding saying, “Yup, yup…”

    To note, though: Movie stars aren’t out on the street every single day signing autographs – their elusiveness makes that scribble more desired and higher in value. (looks fondly at Denis Hamel’s scribble on fridge…)

    @ Poch – Well… I’m not a big believer in the Law of Attraction. I don’t want to wait around for good things to come to me – I’ll go out and get ‘em :)

    @ Melinda –

    I know you’ve talked about how Your Readers Aren’t Buying before James, but how do you spread the word as widely as possible without the free content? How do you get ranked well in search engines without the keywords and regular visitors?

    All the keywords in the world and all the regular visitors does not an income make. It takes conversion and customers. I’d rather have 10 visitors and 8 sales than 10,000 visitors and 8 sales.

    @ Michael – The key word in that comment? “Calculated”. I think not enough people calculate what goes in and what comes out for every aspect of their business. Then again, that goes back to what you said – that I tend to identify myself with “entrepreneur”, in which almost everything is calculated.

    @ Fran – Good point (and I apologize for setting the bar high on blogging). No one is twisting anyone’s arm to do anything. But I think that many bloggers don’t see that, or don’t see that they have a choice in how they define their business blog. I’m all about opening up options, so I hope the discussion gives people different ideas!

    @ Dave – I’m not in it to get rich either. But when Deb mentioned the words ‘retirement fund’ and I actually barked a laugh, I started to think. (A dangerous thing, I know. I apologize.)

  19. I was a “paid” journalist for 15 years. That salary came from advertising purchased by business to air on my station.

    I am retired now, a blogger, paid by Adsense and affiliate revenue. I do not charge for blog posts or so-called premium content.

    I have always ignored conventional wisdom. That attitude won journalism awards while I was paid well. I am still paid well with blog revenue.

    If anyone is a “purist” then place a “donate” button on your blog. You will soon find out that people nearly always will gladly find someone who will give them something for nothing.

    Here’s a Bible quote: “A worker is worthy of his hire..”

    Take it or leave it.

  20. If you are so unhappy about blogging, why do you keep doing it? We live in an amazing time where half the people in the world seem to be experts about something. What’s even more amazing is that they want to share it with the world. There is no way to know who the real experts are anymore.

    Perhaps you should do what Seth Godin does. Write your blog and convert it into a book. Seth is very upfront that most, if not all the content in his books are from his blog. If you did that, perhaps you wouldn’t feel like you sweatshopping it anymore. 5 years x 3 blogs a week should be plenty of material to choose from.
    .-= Rena´s last blog ..What color should I paint my office? =-.

  21. @ Rena – I don’t recall writing anywhere that I was unhappy with blogging…?

    @ Jim – I’m not a bible man myself, but that’s a quote I’ll nod at. Indeed!

  22. As a relatively new blogger but a long time internet marketing student, I have always looked upon the creation of my blog as the platform for eventually selling my own products, as well as a vehicle for marketing offline charity projects. I know that there isn’t a hope in hell of earning any money from it at the moment, but I believe that offering the free in return for the attention is worth the investment. And you’re right – we pour so much effort and love and concentration into our work (I’m days away from giving birth and really struggling to focus on my writing as much I want to) – but this is why you are the creative soul that you are James! You NEED to blog – as much for the writing outlet as anything else. I think the challenge is simply to envision as many possibilities for effectively monetizing our blogs with unique and valuable content that our readers will not find anywhere else for free. And that as MM commented earlier is really our biggest task as business people and marketers….
    .-= Natalie The Tiny Soprano´s last blog ..Are You Pretending To Listen? =-.

  23. @James: I really don’t think we have a different opinion. I believe it’s perfectly OK to ask for money for quality content – it’s not a betrayal of our passion. I’m talking about those individuals that decidedly put income as the be-all end-all of why they’re blogging in the first place.

    It’s like when I tell aspiring comedians that ask for advice: “Don’t get into this field for the money or you’ll be sadly disappointed. Almost everyone who has become a household name did so through the love of performing and they just so happened to get good enough to make money at it.”

  24. @ Jordan – Ahh, yes, okay, that makes MUCH more sense to me, and I’ll have to agree. I think, too, that both extremes have their issues. Those who want ONLY art and those who want ONLY money set themselves up for obstacles, I think. I like the middle ground :)

    @ Natalie – That’s a very true thought right there. For me, I do feel the need to write. If not here on the blog, then some fiction, or maybe helping a friend with some copy… SOMEthing. If I can’t write, it just makes me feel antsy and sad. And a sad James is a terrible thing indeed!

  25. This is exactly why I’ve been reluctant to embrace blogging, James. My entire career has been spent in writing, broadcasting, advertising — the whole communications field. After 30 years, suddenly I’m supposed to work for free? Forever, with no end in sight? A treadmill? Gee, what an appealing proposition.

    I agree with Michael Martine’s wise comment: blogging IS marketing. Just like handing out free samples of your latest candy or cookie. I view my own blogging as (1) a demonstration of my ability, and (2) a free sample of my paid info-products.

    But this constant firehose of free content — good and bad — has increased the noise, the static. The good stuff gets harder and harder to find, while the “same old stuff” is repeated, in slightly different form, ad nauseum.

    A big part of the problem, I think, is the blog format itself. First, it’s a crappy way to organize content. Reverse order by date? Huh? Imagine if your library organized its books that way. Good luck finding anything…

    Second, the blog format subtly increases the pressure to produce frequently — even if your content is lame. “Gee, James posts 3X per week, maybe I better do that, too.” NO! Please don’t — unless you have something new and/or worthwhile to contribute. If so, go for it.

    Maybe we should impose limits — like hunters and fishermen have– on how many posts a blogger can add per week. (High-value contributors like James and Remarkablogger and Seth get a pass, natch.)

    For the rest of us, once we’ve “bagged our limit” of, let’s say, one really great, thoughtful post per week, we have to shut up and let others have the floor.

    What an idea! I think I’ll go blog about it right away! /irony
    .-= Tom McKay´s last blog ..Who, me? No — you! =-.

  26. Damn James, you’re reading my mind. In fact, I’ve got a very similar post going up tomorrow called, “what if Atlas Shrugged.”

    It’s that very reason why I don’t try to get tied to the income from my blog and instead work on longer term business projects. I don’t think blogging is sustainable long term, at least not as a solo project.
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..Saturday Project Update – Here’s to 2010 =-.

  27. I got it – you’re unhappy that what you love to do doesn’t give you the security you want and you feel like you are being taken advantage of by a bunch of freeloaders.

    I guess that I took the title a bit too seriously. I don’t think that I’ve ever heard of someone being happy to work in a sweatshop. It’s great that you enjoy what you’re doing.

    Like everyone else said, it’s about marketing, which leads to the security that you are looking for. Us freeloaders are potential customers.
    .-= Rena´s last blog ..What color should I paint my office? =-.

  28. I have neither the readership nor the frequency of publication to charge for anything (and that assumes what I have to say/offer is worth anything to begin with). The things I’ve put up for free have brought in exactly $0.00, despite getting linked to and complimented and praised.

    Before I get in a funk over it, though, I have to stop and ask myself “Why am I blogging in the first place?” I didn’t get into blogging so readers would throw money my way (not that I’d ever dissuade someone from that).

    My blog was a sort of creative repository, archive and means of accountability – if I write about a project or goal and the world reads about it, I’m much more likely to finish it.

    Additionally, there was a time where I was feeling the “oh no! I haven’t posted in two days” stress. The moment this starts to feel like a job is when I really need to take a step back and, again, remind myself that this isn’t my job – I already have a ‘normal’ 8-5 job to pay the bills – blogging is something I choose to do for myself.

    Like anyone else, I want to liked and respective as an aspiring creative professional, but at the end of the day what really matters is how *I* feel about what I’ve produced. I can’t live my life worrying about what some phantom reader who can’t be bothered to donate – or even leave a comment – thinks.

  29. @ Rena – I do look for security. Bloggers choose to be freelancers, yes, but that means we’re out of potential retirement plans governments and other organizations create for 9 to 5ers. Why? We work just as hard, if not harder. We show up for our jobs every day. And many do a good job, too. We cost the government less in sick time and health care, and we help support the economy with the money we make. We help develop technology. We create jobs and income for others. We educate, inform, and all sorts of other good stuff.

    I’m not convinced that all bloggers everywhere are simply marketers in content form. For business blogs like ours here or for Michael Martine’s, perhaps, yes. But is that really all we are?

    In truth, that quandry is a bit of an intriguing dilemma and probably more complex than I feel like getting into today. I probably haven’t had enough coffee to make sense about it either.

    @ Nathan – Sustainable, long term. That brings me to another thought. What if blogs produce for a certain time to get the portfolio, the credibility, the archives… and then simply stop? Their “library” is built. It’s there. Why this continual churning out of this type of content? Why not then shift to other marketing campaigns or methods that provide better returns?

    Dunno. Maybe I’m talking out my hat, eh?

    @ Tom – That’s the thing – there seems to be no limit. It reminds me of the corporate world I used to live in, where people were squeezed for every bit of juice they had until they burned out and there was nothing left. Then they were tossed aside and replaced with someone fresher.

    I think if bloggers paid more attention to creating limits and boundaries that are healthy, they might all enjoy a better career.

  30. I blog for two reasons I guess. First I enjoy the creative side to it and get a kick when people comment and it seems like the blog is being read and is of interest. Secondly I want to enlarge my presence for my business on the internet and having a blogger.com site really helps with that. Money? Well I do have a vision where the blog could create or become part of a new revenue stream and I am a realist so it would be making a fortune, just to see some income created would be very cool. So for these reasons I continue to blog and slave in my sweatshop called my ‘studio’…! Great post by the way!
    .-= Steve Hearn´s last blog ..Competition Winner! =-.

  31. Bloggers choose to be freelancers, yes, but that means we’re out of potential retirement plans governments and other organizations create for 9 to 5ers.

    Well… Technically… It doesn’t. We just have to factor in a superannuation plan when we write up our business plans and budgets. We have to consider that additional expense when we work out how much we’ll charge for our freelance services.

    The income from freelancing should cover the percent we pay into superannuation just like the profits from business cover the expense traditional employers give the 401k they offer their employees. We are our own employees. The difference is we consider it ‘optional’. But, if you want to give up freelancing one day then it isn’t optional, so you should pay it yourself.

    In Australia, the government offers benefits and incentives to people who subsidize their own superannuation. And don’t forget, superannuation isn’t the only way to invest in your future. You can manage your own stock portfolio or develop a high interest savings account, etc. AND the internet has more opportunity for residual income than many other businesses. The content we create today can continue to make money even if we never invest another moment of our time in it.

    And regarding those movie stars – they get disturbed when out in public even if they aren’t out there for fan benefit. I’m glad my blogging fame doesn’t interrupt my trip to the zoo with the kids or a candlelit dinner at a fine restaurant. Many bloggers choose to live reclusive lives because they’re introverts, movie stars begin to, even if they’re extroverts, because it becomes a nightmare of tedious, unpaid, fan-satisfaction. Kind of like blogging. ;-)
    .-= Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog ..The Writer-Mother: Two Full-Time Jobs =-.

  32. Don’t get me wrong. I have total respect for what you are doing. You found what you are meant to be doing. Most people can’t say that.

    I recently left a job of 10 years to start out on my own thing, so I know what you’re talking about. Ask me again in another 5 how I feel about it, but at least for now, I have to say that it was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I work much longer hours that I ever worked before. I make less than I did when I was salaried. I no longer have a company paying into a retirement fund. And I’d do it all again.

    Freelancers aren’t a new phenomenon. I don’t live in the US, but there should be someone to petition the government to allow for what you are looking for. In the new economy, I suspect the number of freelancers is on the rise.
    .-= Rena´s last blog ..What color should I paint my office? =-.

  33. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Interesting post (as always).

    Dave and Rebecca each mentioned the idea of “TRUST.” I think that is the answer to “Why blog?” and “Why should I read this blog?” When I see MenwithPens.ca in my inbox, I know I will get great content (and usually a smile) to challenge my ideas and start my day.

    James, thank you for the work you do. Thanks for raising such thoughtful questions. I have no clue about the solution, or how to protect intellectual property… No clue if Wal-mart charging $10 for books will bankrupt bookstores, publishers and discourage authors from writing books. I’m a professional volunteer–so I certainly don’t know anything about making money.

    What I do know is that blogging is changing the world. The free blogs with great content, discussions and divergent viewpoints make each of us think, learn, and transform. I am a different person because I read this and other blogs.

    The information exchange is great, but I believe the most significant point is blogs build community–a sense of belonging. They are the equivalent of bringing a dish to the old fashioned pot-luck supper, meeting friends at the market place or the neighborhood bar (I was going to say church, but remembered where I was).

    Maslow put “belonging” at the base of his hierarchy of needs. It is fundamental to living and being healthy, it is a prerequisite to the higher levels of self-actualization.

    We live in a chaotic world that is disconnected and evolving by the microsecond. We need each other to help us make sense of what is happening. Blogs are the center of a community of people with common interests. James et al. are our mentors, as well as the discussion leaders. Each person who chooses to be part of this community shares a piece of their experience and expertise, and if it is built on trust–part of their heart.

    Just because we don’t have dollars to show our thanks, we can still take actions to pay back (or forward). Writer’s Digest is currently asking for nominations of the 101 best websites for writers. If you are so inclined, send comments and nominations for next year’s list to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with “101 Websites” in the subject line (deadline is Jan. 1, 2010).

    Another freebie, is to use your social media to spread the love about Men with Pens to your friends and colleagues.

    Now back to intellectual property…

  34. @ Rebecca – For the govt’ and retirement, things are different in Canada, as I’m sure they are in each country around the world. So I only know what I have to deal with :)

    And this… “Many bloggers choose to live reclusive lives because they’re introverts, movie stars begin to, even if they’re extroverts, because it becomes a nightmare of tedious, unpaid, fan-satisfaction. Kind of like blogging.”

    Um. Yes. Yes, I know exactly what you mean. :)

    @ Rena – Today, in five years, in ten… I’d still do it again, knowing everything I know today. (Where you from, btw?)

    @ Mary – Blogging IS changing the world. When my daughter asks me what kangaroos eat, we can learn within seconds, find pictures, see posts from people who work with kangaroos, learn about care and keeping or wildlife preservation… all SORTS of things. In seconds!!

    I had Encyclopedia Brittanica growing up. That was all.

  35. Bloggers are getting _something_ back – even if that something is not money.

    The return differs depending on the blogger. Sure, some are getting ad revenue. Some are using the blog as a platform to advertise their paid offerings. But for the majority of people who don’t make money from their blog, they’re getting an intangible benefit.

    This benefit could be respect. It could be an outlet for their creativity. It could be the conversations that come up around the posts. Or none of the above. :)

    Granted, it’s a little bit tautological to say “People wouldn’t be blogging if they didn’t get a benefit from it – so they must be getting a benefit from it!” but to paraphrase Dr. Phil, “What are you getting out of doing this behavior,” is the all-important question.

    That said: If a blogger honestly doesn’t know what benefit they’re getting out of blogging, they won’t be able to benefit anyone else with their content. When their burnout begins to show – and it will – their content is going to go downhill. If a blog project is unsustainable, a blogger should either change what they’re doing or get out.

    This is a problem I’ve run into on my own blog – and why I’m very shortly going to be changing tack and going with a project that has a little less revenue potential, but fulfills me and holds my interest a lot more. I think the benefit will be mutual – for my readers and myself.

  36. I hear your logic. I feel your pain. But there’s another side to the equation and it’s as old as markets; asymmetry of knowledge. You know how good your stuff is but the buyer doesn’t. If there are 5000 business blogs and one of them tries to charge because they’re really good, buyers will ask, why should I pay to read their stuff when it’s freely available elsewhere?

    So you have to give out samples. Once you’ve established yourself as a respected voice however, you can monetize in many ways. Books, speaking tours, premium memberships, there are any number of ways to cash in on a solid reputation.

    In your case, you could even stop blogging for free. Leave your archives open for people to see if they like your writing and then allow them to follow current posts with a subscription.
    .-= Siddhartha Herdegen´s last blog ..Are you an ancient spirit? =-.

  37. Awesome post with wonderful comments.

    I agree with everything you’re saying James, but also with what Michael is saying. I have to think of my time spent blogging as marketing. If I think of it as free content, I will die inside and quite altogether. Of course I would like a bigger return for my blogging, but as you’ve said, it is a prison I’ve built for myself. I do think I’ve found a way out of it; a way to get more leverage from what I write without increasing the time spent too much, but I don’t know if it will work until I try.

    I think blogging, like anything else, is an evolution. I think the cream will rise to the top and someday, though not today or tomorrow, things will be different.
    .-= Writer Dad´s last blog ..Time to Reboot – Wiping the Board and Starting Over. =-.

  38. I think it can definitely be sweatshop-like or we can get into that mindset when we’re not enjoying the writing or don’t see it paying off at this point in time.

    It’s painful and frustrating and makes one want to throw in the towel entirely. I go through phases where I feel it as a heavy, dreadful burden. Other times, it’s either fun to do or I see how it’s paying off and I can feel great about it as marketing and such. Despite writing about personal finance, I’ve ended up getting a number of clients with PF blogs who hire me to do their site work. So it even pays off in an indirect way.

    I hope you’re able to find a solution that makes you feel good about what you’re doing or at least connect it to something good.
    .-= Mrs. Micah´s last blog ..How to Study for the GREs – Part 1: Writing =-.

  39. Brett Legree says:

    Why not try a mix of the suggestions above? I mean, you’re already running ads as many folks do, one comment suggested that a donate button would not give much – but, you never know.

    How about a little blurb that says, “If you liked what you read, click here to buy us a beer” – or another one that says, “If you liked what you read, please tell a friend”.

    Show a cute picture of a kitty that says, “Click here to buy Mr. Whiskers some tuna”…

    Opt-in micropayments. If you have 6880 readers, and 1 percent of them buys you a beer…
    .-= Brett Legree´s last blog ..6 weeks 2 days. =-.

  40. I live in Israel (about 40 minutes North of Jerusalem). I am originally from Dallas, TX. Sorry about the US thing. I see that you’re from Canada.
    .-= Rena´s last blog ..What color should I paint my office? =-.

  41. I agree with Barbara… “Utterly brilliant and totally 100% on the mark!” and Corey “I’m working on a membership site right now that adds onto my current blog.” Also with you James…

    Most bloggers have an expertise that they are trying to sell… there should be a way to create income from it while still blogging. We are all blogging because we acknowlegde that we have a speciality that could benefit others. The value is there and it should not always come free.

    I think Corey’s idea of building a membership site to the blog is a good idea… however, I have a feeling that the membership site should come before the blog… and the blog should be the added value given for free promoting the membership site.
    .-= Yosie Saint-Cyr´s last blog ..When should damages for bad faith in dismissal be awarded? =-.

  42. I think it really comes to down to having a love for writing. I blog because I enjoy writing and I probably would still blog even if there was no money in sight at the end. To me, it’s enabled me to collaborate and connect with different types of people across the world. I think blogging is a great way to grow yourself as a person and even professionally.

    That being said, the blog really when it comes to making money has become a platform for selling products. The days of making money advertising are over. If you plan to make a living writing articles then you are probably looking at a high level of investment with a low ROI, unless you publish a book. Those are my thoughts.
    .-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..Why you should forget everything you’ve learned about blogging if you want to be a good writer =-.

  43. I would probably blog even if I didn’t make money doing it, but I wouldn’t be blogging as fast and as furiously as I am now. I wouldn’t be spending money on a new design or paying to develop an email list.

    It’s easy to get tied to a blog though and soon, you are chained to it.

    I’d love to see blogs like this or another like Copyblogger start charging $1 or so per month. Might not be a lot of income, but it would be something. I’d be happy to pay because I feel uncomfortable getting something for free.

    People I think are getting spoiled by receiving everything for free.
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..Saturday Project Update – Here’s to 2010 =-.

  44. @ Nathan – That’s part of it there. I’m not sure people realize how difficult it can be to continually come up with helpful, applicable advice on a regular basis. I think many bloggers – Copyblogger is a good example – spoil readers with top-notch stuff at times.

    @ Srinivas – Even writing a book isn’t as profitable as it might seem. But it does provide a better ROI, overall, yes.

    @ Yosie – I think if a membership site comes first, then that person had best be someone I already know and trust, or else I won’t pay. But I’ve always happily paid for content and education from people who have a reputation already established.

    @ Brett – Donations are an option, as are micropayments, premium content and membership areas. I think there are plenty of ways to explore these alternatives… question is, what’s worth paying for and what isn’t? James’ latest rambles or rants wouldn’t be (to me) worth a dime, you know?

    Though they are always good, if I do say so myself… hehehe

    @ Mrs. Micah – My heart bleeds for bloggers who fall into the trap of feeling they HAVE to HAVE to HAVE to. They burn out, they stress out, they feel low, they get discouraged… it doesn’t have to be that way, you know?

    @ WriterDad –

    I have to think of my time spent blogging as marketing. If I think of it as free content, I will die inside and quite altogether.

    As long as you’re not ignoring the truth or putting your head in the sand about what it really is, then you go, bro. Besides, I don’t want you dead! :)

    @ Siddartha – Yeah, that’s a good option. Build a library, the trust and the free content, and then once you’ve established yourself, move to something that doesn’t continually drain you out.

    @ Charlotte – If I was getting nothing back from the blog, be it clients or personal fulfillment or friends or growth or whatever, then I would stop immediately. Doing something that brings nothing at all back is foolish. Well said.

  45. I enjoy my blogging more when I’m not getting paid for it.

    Surprising? Only on the face of it. When I write for Aliventures, I write something I love. I don’t worry about whether it’s taking me longer than average to get the words down. I don’t have to think about when the editor will want the piece by — if I need an extra day to get my thoughts straight, I take it.

    Now, I *do* make money from Aliventures — but it’s disconnected from the individual posts, so I don’t have that “okay, I’m writing this post to make $50″ feeling.

    I enjoy my freelance blogging work (which is the route I’d recommend for anyone who wants to get paid by the post), but it definitely feels more like “work”.

    James, like you and Natalie, I get antsy if I don’t write. I need an outlet that’s not work aimed at paying the rent, too; for me, that’s my own blog and the novel I’m working on. I’m hoping both WILL pay off long-term, but that’s not why I do them, and if I started thinking about the money every time I worked on them, a lot of the fun would be lost.

    Others have already made the blogging-as-marketing and blogging-as-showcase points, so I won’t rehash them!
    .-= Ali Hale´s last blog ..How to Be More Consistent (When it Matters) =-.

  46. Interesting look on “blogging”. I tend to agree with you at times. I suppose it’s because many times blogging feels like work to me. I’m not a writer, so in the respect of pouring out my thoughts, investments, and experience in the form of blogging in a way makes it feel like a sweatshop, only I’m the only one who can whip myself when I don’t perform.

    On the other hand, since I don’t consider myself a writer, I tend to think of myself as an entrepreneur, like you. Now in that regard, I agree completely with Michael Martine – that was a great point.

    I think it’s interesting how our outlook of things can be changed or focused depending on how we perceive the things we do.

    Now if I could only figure out a way to charge blog authors for my comment! ;)
    .-= John Hoff – WP Blog Host´s last blog ..FTC Blogging Regulations, A Webinar You Need To See =-.

  47. I didn’t read all of the comments but David’s first reflects my views:

    I think you nailed it.

    Fortunately for me, I’m not in it to get rich, it’s simply a way to establish public credibility and build my own intellectual property portfolio.

    I do spend quite a bit of tmie on my blog and don’t expect any direct compensation. However, I am amazed that others have asked me to routinely contribute to theirs sans compensation because of some lukewarm promise of ‘exposure.’
    .-= Phil Simon´s last blog ..2009: A Year of Tensions and Technology =-.

  48. Michael Martine says:

    I’d like point back at something Tom said earlier in the comments: blogs are a lousy format.

    You’re so close, Tom! Blogs are a great format for what they do. But they’re terrible for training or intensive learning, for exactly the reasons you mention… and that’s exactly why paid content formats sit nicely right next to blogs and thrive. Ebooks and membership sites are simply better for some things. And let’s not forget live teleseminars and consulting or coaching. Blogging helps all these other formats ring up at the register.
    .-= Michael Martine´s last blog ..Stop Hunting Customers and Penetrating Markets – Start Speaking the Language of Caring =-.

  49. @ Phil – Did you read my Screw Community post? I hear you on that lukewarm promise…

    @ John – Good point there, that some bloggers aren’t writers first, and some writers aren’t bloggers first, and then there are those (like myself) who identify with both. Toss in who’s a businessperson and who’s not and … YEAH! It’s like one of those trail mix treats!

    @ Ali – I’d still be writing 100 years from now, if this all dried up tomorrow. Mmhm.

  50. @James – Yeah and that’s kind of how I felt my comment turned out (a trail mix of thoughts) hehe
    .-= John Hoff – WP Blog Host´s last blog ..FTC Blogging Regulations, A Webinar You Need To See =-.

  51. Blogging is a sweatshop only if you get nothing in return. If you end up building trust, credibility and influence – or if you just plain enjoy blogging – then the time and effort is worthwhile.
    .-= Stephen Da Cambra´s last blog ..If You Haven’t Been Able to Get Going in Social Media… =-.

  52. Hi Michael, thanks for your response. [I've been waiting for bloggers to jump all over me for my heresy!]

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find blogs fine for hit-and-miss content, following inbound links, etc. But once I’m on someone’s blog (even my own), I find it awkward at best to find more goodies (unless they appear in a “Most Popular” sidebar or something).

    I know there are blog search engines and “related posts” plugins, but that only underscores my point about the difficulty of navigation. If it was clearer, maybe we wouldn’t need them!

    Michael (or anyone else), perhaps you could suggest a non-blog WP theme that’s oriented more toward pages (containing stand-alone essays) rather than daily posts? I’ve looked at a few, but haven’t found one that’s both attractive and allow me to choose which pages appear in the top menu, and which ones would appear only in the “Pages” sidebar. Anyone?

    Thanks in advance, anyone. And Michael, thanks again for your thoughtful response. I really admire your work and expertise.
    .-= Tom McKay´s last blog ..The blogging treadmill =-.

  53. Michael Martine says:

    Tom, there are many non-WordPress systems if you want something that’s not a blog. You can also use WordPress without even including a blog.

    Again, I’d like to suggest the point you raise is not a problem, but an opportunity: if people don’t subscribe and get into the flow, they could miss something important! Once someone subscribes, we now have the beginning of a relationship in which trust can be established, and which down the road leads to sales.
    .-= Michael Martine´s last blog ..Stop Hunting Customers and Penetrating Markets – Start Speaking the Language of Caring =-.

  54. James,

    Excellent post and I totally agree. It is done now, how do we stop it? I read the debate about being offered $2 or $5 for an article from the very people who are writing excellent blog post for free, this includes myself. When I see post asking writers to write an article for $5 I cringe, Yet I regularly write article size post for my blog and never stopped to think that at least I could have made $5. I think its the idea that someone would value my writing so little, by paying only $5. I take joy in knowing that readers are returning to my blog to read my new posts yet they are paying nothing. Hummmm…..really is something to think about.

    Jenn

  55. Wow. Great topic and comments. It’s quite rare that the subject writing online and making money can be broached and the conversation doesn’t devolve into hurt feelings and name-calling. Credit James and the Men with Pens readers.

    My thoughts pretty much mirror Natalie’s. For many of us starting out, blogging is as much a creative outlet as it is a potential income generator. I have no illusions that blogging or other social media outlets is going to replace the time I spend going out and meeting with clients and creating relationships. I write to hone my skills, to clarify my own thoughts on a particular subject, and keep myself writing when my job has me designing or coding. Blogging is as much for myself as it is for anyone else.

    That being said, we’ve become accustomed to the concept that information is now free. I’ve taken in all of the valuable content from Men with Pens to improve my business and my fiction writing without feeling guilty about getting it for free.

    Would I have ever read anything from Men with Pens if they had paid-subscriptions? Probably not… and it would have been my loss.

    But the trust in James and Taylor is there and when they come out with a new ebook, I’m entering my PayPal information without a second thought.

    The most important way to build business is to build relationships. Blogging is just another way of doing it.

  56. Oh, and here I was thinking it was just me who wondered why, every day, I do what I do. I am turning away well-paid work (regularly) so that I can spend hours each week writing copy for free. I hear you all say, ‘Well, lady, that is your choice. No-one made you start your blog.’ And, that is exactly right. I do this because I really enjoy the freedom and style of writing that can only come through blogging. But, every day, even with a smile on my face at having written another free post, I wonder just how sustainable this truly is. Come and ask me in 5 years…. I am sure I will know the answer then.
    .-= Pamela Wilson´s last blog ..Why news and feature writers are so important =-.

  57. Kathleen K. O'Connor says:

    I think blogging is a part of branding, marketing, and building trust. I have only bought info products from bloggers whose blogs I have read for a while and who have plenty of “social proof.” If I read their free content and think it’s awesome, I know I could get a lot more out of their paid content. On the other hand, if those bloggers just asked me to buy stuff straight away, it would have left a bad taste in my mouth, and I probably never would have bought anything at all. I think it can take a few days or up to several months to gain that trust. I know that I am the kind of person who takes several months to trust someone enough to buy their products. If I don’t buy something, it’s simply because the blogger hasn’t offered anything that I want.

    So, what about bloggers like Darren Rowse? Isn’t he making a killing selling stuff on his blog? He seems to be a pretty popular guy too. Maybe the bloggers who give, give, give, and then out of nowhere ask for money or support are the ones who don’t do well and get virtually lynched. People are probably saying, “What, you want us to pay for the stuff you’ve been giving us for free for the past 3 years? How dare you!” Bloggers who make it clear from the very beginning that they plan to sell stuff to their audience probably attract the right readers and go on to profit from their efforts. I plan on launching a blog soon as a marketing tool for my biz, so this post and its comments certainly gave me plenty to think about :0)

  58. Ack! James! You do realize you kept me up till 3am last night. I went to bed fully intending to sleep and then BAM, your twitter comment nagged at me, and nagged at me.

    Now I have several pages of hand-written content to type regarding this very topic. Bare with me while I pull those late night scratchings into some semblance of order and then I’ll decide how best to present it all for you to read. :-)
    .-= Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog ..Have your WordPress blog Ping.fm =-.

  59. @tom_mckay: As a web designer I LOVE WordPress because it allows you to do anything you want with your blog/site theme. WordPress is a content management system, it gives average users a dashboard to easily add or edit their sites content. The theme, the way that content appears to readers, is completely up to the blog owner.

    There are ‘free’ themes that offer non-blog-style options but you might prefer a custom theme that targets your specific needs. Part of the redesigning I’m working on with Writer’s Round-About is to take away some of the ‘blog-style’ dependency on date ordering and opening it up so that writers can put their hand on the content they’d like to know more about, more easily.

    There are widgets that offer methods for sorting your content but one of the biggest things to consider is your own organization and management. If you’re using good tags and categories for every one of your posts, it shouldn’t be difficult for readers to dig deeper by following the bread crumbs. But they’ll only do that if the content they originally find is something they value enough to dig deeper into.

    But, this becomes a whole other topic. *chuckles* Another I could probably be up till 3am writing about. This post has generated some fantastic interactions and discussion. You’ve all presented valuable considerations and thoughts. Thank you!
    .-= Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog ..Social Media 101: Do’s and Don’ts of Networking =-.

  60. I’ve been trying to come here and comment all day, and I finally get here and there are a kajillion comments to catch up on.

    As you know, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I put out more free content than you, James. I post several times a day plus there are bloggers who work for me. I do earn a full time salary through advertising revenue, so there’s that. However, I don’t sell too many products. However, I’m realizing that my investment of time is paying off in a big way. The people who visit my blogs aren’t paying, but the advertisers are. The people who visit my blogs don’t support what I do much at all. They don’t click and they don’t buy. To say it’s a labor of love is an understatement. That’s why I’ve always been hesitant to do ebooks and other products. To make money I had to find my own sponsors.

    Getting back to the matter at hand: there’s a need for good, quality content. I’m going to get into this more at the BWE blog probably, but eventually I think in the next few years we’ll find folks willing to pay for quality content. It’s going to be a hard sell, but it’ll happen. Like selling ads on blogs back in the day, it’ll take a few bloggers getting criticized over their paying models, but it’ll happen.

    We’ve been having a debate among the freelance writing sites about low paying content and the quality of said content. What pains me is how no one wants anyone to write for free yet no one wants to pay for content, either. I’m not quite sure how so many of these websites are supposed to make money for their writers if no one ways to pay them.

    Yet.

    With all the folks complaining about bad writing and bad advice, I’m willing to be that will change.

    Now, what you and I were talking about, James, isn’t whether or not we should start charging for folks to come to our blogs. The questions was whether or not a bunch of trusted bloggers should put together a subscription based site. We put the question out on Twitter and the response was interesting. Most people said no, but there were still quite a few who said they were willing to pay trusted sources for good advice.

    I’m rambling again, aren’t I?

    The bottom line? If you build it, they will come. Maybe not many at first, but eventually. Quality always wins in the end.

  61. @Debng – I like the sound of you making a full-time wage from blogging. I’d be very keen to read any posts you have on how you found your own sponsors.

    I also have the problem of blog readers not buying or clicking – I am in the service industry, not products – so I have always been unsure how to make money, eventually, from blogging. Even my core business (I’m a freelance journalist) is not one that any of my blog readers would ever utilise. The people who pay me are editors, not readers.
    .-= Pamela Wilson´s last blog ..Why news and feature writers are so important =-.

  62. The thing that surprises me about this post is how many people have said, “Yeah! I totally agree!” I’ve been reading MwP for a long time (for free! shame on me!), and I usually agree with most of what James writes, but I also know that he writes quite a bit of stuff with the express purpose of getting a reaction, and I can’t help but feel that this is one of them (James, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

    I read tons of other blogs, also for free. Do I think I should feel ashamed for reading those blogs for free? Not in the slightest. Should bloggers feel ashamed if they want to charge for their content? Not in the slightest. But let’s face it, most popular blogs wouldn’t have a huge readership if they weren’t free.

    James starts with the premise, take this blog and then strip out the services we offer, the e-books we sell, and everything else that allows us to make a living (I’m paraphrasing). But, that’s the whole point isn’t it? You can’t strip out the services, and the e-books and the things people pay for. They’re part of the whole reason this blog exists (and many others too). I love what Michael wrote, “I’m not writing for free. I’m marketing.”

    If you’re a blogger and you’re feeling bitter because no one’s paying you to do write, sorry, but the only person to blame is yourself. Some people don’t blog for the money. But to those people who are blogging and read this post and started nodding to themselves and going, “Yeah! That’s right! Why isn’t anyone paying me to blog!?” Sorry, but you’re kind of missing the point.

    Me feeling sorry for bloggers who don’t get paid to blog is kind of like me feeling sorry for using the free samples that I get in the mail. If you don’t want me to use your product, don’t make it available to me. Likewise, if you’re looking to get paid for something, don’t put it out for free.

    As for those Twitterers that James mentioned who said that he should be “ashamed” for considering to charge for content, they’re equally out to lunch. If your content is good enough to merit paying for on its own, by all means, charge for it (fair warning: most blogs are NOT good enough to merit charging for). Market it. Make a living off of it.

    But if you make content available for “free,” especially when its primary purpose is as marketing material, please don’t expect any sympathy.
    .-= Adam Di Stefano´s last blog ..Does a Small Business Need a Blog? =-.

  63. I think that the title is interesting. It’s merely a thought provoker. I actually read it last night and then this reply came to me this morning.

    Sweat Shop? er… I don’t know how much of a sweatshop it is sitting at home in your slippers.

    By creating great content for free, you are gaining credibility and showing off the value of your work. Also you are training a tribe of people to take specific calls to action.

    The better you get at getting the result you want ie, click the link, sign up for updates etc, the better you will be at selling your product to those same people.

    A: They already trust you
    B: They know that you provide great value
    C: They listen to you
    D: They have shown that they will follow specific calls to action

    Now that’s a lot of the hard work in selling done. Your basically creating a qualified list of contacts, who all don’t mind being on that list BECAUSE of all the great free stuff they recieve.

    It’s the ultimate win win situation in my opinion.

  64. Wow. I go away for a couple of hours and holy hell Batman! But seriously? Thank you to everyone who came to write your thoughts. i won’t be able to get to them all tonight, but I do want to address one in particular right now:

    @ Adam

    Do I write posts to get a reaction? Yes, sometimes I do – because posts that get reactions are usually the only ones that get thoughtful comments and crawl into the minds of people properly. I wanted to know what people thought about the topic of free content, and this post was written to provoke that type of discussion that we’re having now. I *want* to light a fire under people’s asses!

    But make no mistake – I do so to get ALL sides of the coin, all faces of the cube. I want the good, the bad, the ugly, the unsure. I want *discussion* and for people to get together to talk something out. I don’t have a pre-determined result in mind here, and I’m not looking for backup on it. I don’t need that – I’m the type of person that does, consequences be damned.

    But when I truly want to know what people think, and get them thinking themselves… yes, a post like this is the only way to get it. (And it was a good post, too!)

    Your comment raises an interesting question that I would like to hear your thoughts on – you mention most blogs are not good enough to merit charging for. So, in your opinion, what type of content *is* worth charging for?

  65. Adam, along similar lines to James’s most recent question to you. I also want to know what sort of content you – and everyone – would pay for. I am sure you are all aware that newspapers have NEVER charged for content. $1.50 to buy a paper simply does not, never has, never will cover the costs of journalists researching and writing quality copy. This model worked well for a long time because advertisers paid the shortfall, but now newspapers have created a hole for themselves which they can’t dig out of – I am, of course, talking about their quests to charge for online content.

    I think what James is getting at (correct me if I am wrong) is that while we all blog for our marketing, professional and enjoyment reasons, are we digging ourselves a hole that we will one day not be able to climb out of? The fact is no-one wants to pay for anything online – even me, considering I am here lapping up free posts – because they have mostly got it for free. Even if someone wanted to charge for people to access their content (like Darren Rowse is doing for his online community venture) they can’t, because the norm is that online content is free content.

    Also, it was highly recommended that I blog because that is how marketing and promotion works these days. So, it is not a case of us all being here out of pure joy, it is part of the overall ‘must do’ business plan.

    Don’t get me wrong, like I say, I love blogging – for many reasons – but I do wonder if the fact that there is a lot of manpower and little direct remuneration will breed dissatisfaction in the long run. I just wonder if there is a better model?

    (Bye for now. Back to work. Have to write my blog post on Bryce Courtenay.)
    .-= Pamela Wilson´s last blog ..Why news and feature writers are so important =-.

  66. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Been looking for this conversation on Twitter. Is there a hashtag?

  67. James,

    If someone is just a blogger this post makes perfect sense. As an entrepreneur they would be left scratching they’re head.

    As a first time visitor to your site its obvious you have a very good site, a great following and obvious authority. Monetizing that asset shouldn’t be an issue.

    From the looks of the reaction of the posts it sounds like you have the opportunity to start another money making idea already “How to Retire A Rich Blogger”

    Creating a product that people will pay for is business 101, trying to get people to pay for something that was historically free, thats just bottled water. Either way, they both take creativity, packaging, positioning and selling.

    Again from the looks of it your probably doing fine already. Thanks for the good post.
    .-= Rich Lazzara´s last blog ..Do You Get or Earn Attention Online? =-.

  68. I agree with the others that blogging is a platform which you can then sell your ebooks, marketing material or whatever product or services you have on offer. I have no problem at all paying for subscribed content as long as the content had value and gave me tools to grow my business, lose weight, increase my self esteem or whatever the purpose of the business was.

  69. It’s a great reminder to distinguish between above the line and below the line. Blogging is below the line. Services, info products, books are above the line. It’s part of the platform from freemium to premium.

    It’s another great reminder too to think about how you blend passion and profit. If you won’t do it for free, it’s not a passion.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Lessons Learned from Guy Kawasaki =-.

  70. I’d like to re-respond to a commentator on this post, after having been contacted by another individual.

    Dear Jim Desantis – you wrote:

    I am retired now, a blogger, paid by Adsense and affiliate revenue. I do not charge for blog posts or so-called premium content.

    I have always ignored conventional wisdom. That attitude won journalism awards while I was paid well. I am still paid well with blog revenue.

    If anyone is a “purist” then place a “donate” button on your blog. You will soon find out that people nearly always will gladly find someone who will give them something for nothing.

    Here’s a Bible quote: “A worker is worthy of his hire.”

    The following email communication I received is reprinted here with permission:

    I find the comment by Jim DeSantis quite interesting in light of the fact that I know he doesn’t write his own content. I know this because I’ve found three of my own blog posts on his site, used without permission. I’ve also seen posts copied from Problogger and goodness only knows where else on his site.

    While I don’t mind putting in the effort of writing posts for my own site I’m not at all happy about someone else using them without permission to attract traffic to their site and making money from adsense with them. It’s called a breach of Copyright.

    Jim doesn’t put in the effort of writing his own blog like the rest of us on here do, yet he feels he is qualified to comment on this post? I think not.

    So, Jim… I again have to agree with your comment: “A worker is worthy of his hire.”

    Indeed. And worthiness does come to light in view of these events. Good luck with your profiteering, scraping, splogging and content theft.

  71. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    To quote another verse from the Bible: The 10 commandments (EXODUS 20)

    THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

    THOU SHALL NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S GOODS.

  72. @James – Not saying there’s anything *wrong* with writing posts that generate reactions (in fact, they’re the best kind), I just wanted to flag the fact that oftentimes, blog comments are overwhelmingly in agreement with the premise of the post. That makes sense. We come here to read you mainly because we agree with what you have to say – or at the very least think that it’s intelligent enough to argue with you over. Nonetheless, I think it’s healthy to disagree with the author of a post. In this case, I really thought I would have seen more comments that disagreed – or at the very least only partially agreed.

    With regards to what’s worth paying for and what’s not, it’s tough to draw a line in the sand. Obviously, taste is subjective, and what I think is “good enough” is another person’s trash, and vice versa. However, call me a born and bred capitalist, but this is a case where you’ve got to let the market decide what’s good enough to charge for. If there’s a market willing to pay for your writing, then it’s good enough. If there isn’t, then it isn’t. Magazines are suffering because even their “professional” writers aren’t producing content worthy of paying for qua content.

    I realize that I just cheated because I basically answered the question, “what’s worth paying for?” with “whatever’s worth paying for,” but that’s the reality.

    As products or services get commoditized, they lose value. Content is being commoditized, and so it’s losing value to the point where the price people are willing to pay is dropping alongside that value, to the point where only the cream of the crop commands a price higher than zero.

    Even if I try to answer the question a bit more directly, comparing blogging to “paid writing,” there is still a notable difference between what I expect to find on a blog in terms of quality, and what I expect to find in one of the very few magazines that I pay to read. I’m paying for the editorial process, the fact checking, the polish, the storytelling. Most blogs privilege quantity over quality, mainly because in a free model, that just plain makes sense. In a paid model, you need less content, but of a higher calibre.

    Still, all this comes down to the market. If you really want to get paid for blogging, the only way to ensure that you’ll get the money is to make *everyone else* stop blogging. Scarcity is the friend of the paid model.
    .-= Adam Di Stefano´s last blog ..Does a Small Business Need a Blog? =-.

  73. Mary, I’m coveting James’ readership. Does that make me a bad person? LOL ;-)

    It’s nice to see bloggers supporting each other.
    .-= Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog ..A rant on Ethics in Business, or rather, the lack thereof. =-.

  74. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Humm, Melinda. Wait, I’ll have to go ask Moses.

    —————————————————-

    Moses said that the devil is in the details. He said the tenth commandment, “Thou shall not covet” was built on the previous nine commandments. So you have to consider coveting based on lying, stealing, or abuse any of the other commandments.

    As you may or may not know, Moses was reported to have a bad stammer. He hemmed a little, but he said the first commandment was the one to watch. “You can’t make James into a ‘strange god,’ though he certainly meets the definition of strange.”

  75. The comments on this post really rock. Here’s one new thought: a good blog influences people. That influence can be used to make money, but it can also be used to accomplish other things. One can promote ideas, push policy, raise interest, and perhaps, in the long term, even change behavior.

  76. I really like the idea of micro payments for reading articles and blog posts. Such small payments wouldn’t really prevent anyone from reading a post but would make a huge difference to bloggers who work hard on their craft.
    .-= Spot Cool Gadgets´s last blog ..Nikon D80 vs D90 vs D300 =-.

  77. Death by Children is my writing sample for pitching stories. The content is article marketing for myself. It’s meant to promote me as a writer. It makes a lot of sense to give it away for that reason.

    It also works as a testing ground for new products. I wrote an article for a new series recently that got more hits in two days than I’d gotten for the whole site in a month. I realized it was a great idea for print syndication so I’m pulling the series off the blog and reserving it for print.

    Having a gargantuan web presence is the only way to make a blog profitable. Then you function as an attention portal and ad agencies will pay attention. But until then, a blog is just a very interactive, very fun marriage between a writing lab and a brochure.
    .-= Chris Garlington´s last blog ..13 Things I Would Never Hear Again if I Power Drilled Through My Eardrums =-.

  78. James Madison says:

    Sorry, but one of the first things my grandfather taught me was, “Don’t do it unless there’s a buck in it, and if there isn’t a buck in it, find out how to put get one into it.”

    So rule number one: if you don’t have a sound and profitable business plan, don’t do it until you do! Unfortunately, only about 30 people have ever made a profit on a blog, considering what they would be paid for equivalent time if they were at a workaday job. I love your column, but I agree, internet journalism is primarily a losing venture. Apparently people on the internet are extremely cheap. Who would’ve thought?

  79. Coming way late to this game, but I’ve been in the process of changing how I operate my blog for the very reasons everyone has been discussing here.

    Blogging to me is a marketing tool – a way to show people what I do so that they will buy my services and ebooks.

    However, I get lots of messages telling me how much the blog helps them out. So why buy the cow when the milk flows freely all over the Internet? (Because if they don’t get it from me, they’ll find it elsewhere.)

    I’ve never been interested in earning advertising revenue from the site and yet from what I hear more and more that’s the way to go if you want to monetize your blog – using it to promote your services doesn’t seem to produce the same results.

    If I go back to the early examples of a Pizza Parlor sending out flyers, they set up a flyer and send it out once every few months, often repeating the same flyer over and over, or maybe changing just a few items. That’s marketing that has a return on investment because it’s not ongoing unpaid work.

    As a coach, I earn money by helping people. The more time I spend “marketing” (ie blogging, commenting and sending out guest posts) the less time I have to help people, but the fewer people coming to the site.

    So perhaps blogging isn’t the answer for people who don’t want to earn from advertising revenue, the way to go is to create a flyer (a few customizable articles?) and distribute them all over the place.

    Of course the flyer costs money in printing and sending, but blogging can cost nothing but time.

    Me, I’m no longer willing to invest either as they both distract from what I really want – which is pursuing my fiction writing.
    .-= Alex Fayle ¡ Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..Course Changes on the Someday Journey: Reorienting Goals =-.

  80. Wow!

    I need to be more clear:

    * I’m in business to get filthy stinking rich.
    * I currently suck at business
    * Writing for a blog is a marketing expense which create brand, goodwill and personal credibility.

    As far as blogging itself goes, yeah, sweatshop for sure. It’s the nature of it. Barrier to entry is too low. You want job security and easy work get a PhD and teach university. Oh… wait… nevermind.
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..Watering Holes and Quid Pro Quo – WIAW Week in Review =-.

  81. Dave,

    You, too?

    It only took James four days to totally change your outlook. That’s got to be a record.

    :D
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..One in a Million, Revisited =-.

  82. The payment that bloggers get is the vast ego-trip which the thought of people reading their words sends them on. That’s the only reason I’ve ever blogged: pure egotism, shameless narcissism. There’s nothing wrong in that, but why pretend there’s anything more to it? If bloggers ARE genuine experts, or do have extraordinarily worthwhile insights, should they not seek employment at an organisation that will pay them? It’s free labour, no one’s forcing you to work for nothing.

  83. Wait, you mean being brilliant isn’t enough?

    [forehead slap]

    I guess I should just give up.
    .-= Norman Rogers´s last blog ..Widebody Slapfaces =-.

  84. I do agree there’s a certain element of vanity to it and kudos attached.

    Plus bloggers seem to be sold a dream that IF they blog for years on end and IF they manage to build up enough ardent fans then they MAY be able to sell them some books 2 or 3 years down the line but only IF they are very clever at marketing.

    And most of all this begs the question. Are bloggers who keep writing and giving away their content, advice and time free mad? I think they might be…

  85. I researched making money with blogs for about two weeks, glad I did! Before I wrote my first post, I set my blogs to make money and I do not spend more than 10-12 hours a week writing for the blogs and not that much time marketing the blogs say another 3-5 hours spreading the word, this is my fourth month so my expectation are in line with what I have doen this far.

    Sweatshop, not even close I owned two stores worked seven days a week, 10-16 hours a day. Compared to that blogging is a walk in the park. I agree with one the first posts, many bloggers are not business people and it shows. I straight up ask for the money from my readers everyday and they respond with sales.

  86. It is all about supply and demand.
    As blogging and article promotion continue to blossom, there will be those people who will set out to grab their share of the profits no matter how they hurt the industry with their sweatshop tactics!

    There are dozens of sites that promote cheap articles like: RentaCoder, Textbroker, and many many others… and while they claim there are only providing a secure escrow service platform for the outsourcing of writing projects, they are in reality flooding the market for the most part with cheap 3rd world writers who will write your promotion articles and SEO content for $1 per article.

    This is reminiscent of illegal alien workers who flock around Home Depot and other business to get under the table jobs. Who in their right mind would pay someone $15.00 ah hour to clean toilets when you get get someone to do it for $5.00 an hour?

    But the bottom line in the world of online marketing via article promotion is quality not quantity, and anyone who places their website and Google rank in the hands of $1 hack writers won’t be around very long any way…So i say live long and prosper you sweatshop writers…. cause your low quality interpretation of quality relevant content only makes what i do shine brighter on Google!

  87. Sure there are content mills and they are not going away. As I stated earlier, I do not see blogging as a sweatshop situation ( unless you are a glutton for punishment) and you create that environment, perhaps I am naive all of this is very new to me.

    I walk the line of giving away the good stuff while keeping the family jewels for the products. So far so good.

    The debate between marketing and sales is a very old one, sometimes it is hard to quantify. Many see blogging as just a feature and benefit package, show case your skills, offer great content and build a audience and hopefully convert your service or products into sales.

    The flaw with that line of thinking is you can’t hope to make sales, you better have a strong sale pitch and a unique selling proposition , whether it is the web or offline sales there are immutable market forces that cannot be ignored or you will be out of business.

  88. Glendon;

    Here’s what I worry about: they don’t have to be around for long. I don’t know if this is true, but it appears that by shotgunning a gigantic keyword saturated blog, they drive traffic for a time and sell linkage for a time. They create thousands of blogs with thousands of KW saturated pages. So even if their snowboarding blog with content generated by a guy from Mauritania only gets a few clickthroughs each week, when you realize that one of these companies may have 40000 pages under their name on every subject from washing machine gaskets to Paris Hilton, you start to realize that for their model, it really is quantity, not quality that matters.
    .-= Chris Garlington´s last blog ..13 Things I Would Never Hear Again if I Power Drilled Through My Eardrums =-.

  89. Yeah Chris you have a point there… but that model of KW saturation will never stand up to the test of time… or the Google algorithm. I have seen it before by these 3rd world ad-words jockeys… they buy keyword a rich domain name, fill it full of scraped crap and tricky ad click thrus.. make some cash, then fall silently into the sand box!

    As writers we do what do… some of us do quite well and some of us are just hanging on…myself i have been lucky, i haven’t had to do the 9 to 5 thing for over 5 years. I am no millionaire but i do eat well and work at my own schedule and have the luxury of this new Mac Book Pro laptop to play with. I guess it all boils down to the writer’s lament… “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” …… :)
    .-= Rob Fleming – Freelance Writer for Hire´s last blog ..The Facts About SEO Vs. PPC Campaigns =-.

  90. Since I don’t blog myself I had the assumption that blogs brought in money through advertisers or by using the blogs to tie into products that they do charge for (like Seth Godin using his blog to sell his books or a designer selling his services).

    If enough money isn’t coming in through either of these two methods then ask yourself how it is that Lynda.com can charge for online tutorials when you can just as easily get a similar product for free elsewhere (my answer is that I can easily find what I want and get a quality tutorial). Personally, if a blog is good enough I could imagine myself paying a yearly fee for it if the price is right.

    Any blogger should ask themselves if their writing is good enough to charge for and if not are they capable of correcting that. That’s assuming they even cared to charge to begin with…

  91. If you have an end goal in mind — or rather, you strategically mapped out how to establish yourself and your blog as an authority, then I feel that at some point in time, you will have to give a little (for free) to give your readers a taste of what ‘paid’ will taste like.

  92. I’ve been blogging “for free” for almost 2 years. Last November I’ve decided to take a more serious approach with my blogging and I made a series of radical changes. I keep on working, reading, learning and giving extra hours every day… Who knows some day I’ll be able to earn a living of my blog.
    .-= Hybrid Golf Clubs´s last blog ..The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Update from Adam Scott =-.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Free Blog Posts | Men With Pens [...]

  2. [...] James at Men With Pens has an interesting post “Are Bloggers Creating Their Own Sweatshop?”  http://menwithpens.ca/sweatshop-blogging [...]

  3. [...] Should Bloggers Stop Giving it Away” on the BlogWorld blog and James’ post “Are Bloggers Creating Their Own Sweat Shop?”. I’m also inspired to write this post by recent discussions here and at Carson [...]

  4. What if Atlas Shrugged? | Nathan Hangen says:

    [...] Note: I wrote this post just before the fabulous James at Men with Pens published a piece on Sweatshop Blogging, but thanks to the discussion in the comments, I’ve decided to not only publish this piece, [...]

  5. [...] discussion we’ve been having about whether bloggers should get paid for their work is fascinating, and I think it’s pretty great that the whole MwP community here has been so [...]

  6. [...] challenged the idea that bloggers ‘must’ post their content for free. He asked, “Are Bloggers Creating Their Own Sweatshop?” Well? Are we devaluing ourselves? Why aren’t we charging readers to read our blog [...]

  7. [...] James asked, “Are Bloggers Creating Their Own Sweatshop?” we discussed what a blog is, and what it isn’t. Ok, so our blog isn’t our [...]

  8. [...] recently put forth the subject of whether bloggers should charge for their content (click here to read the post), and the debate was a great [...]

  9. [...] This article on Men With Pens and this article on CopyBlogger both question the ‘tradition’ and wisdom of free information online. [...]

  10. [...] read a blog post over the weekend on Men With Pens. In it the author argued that Blogging is Turning Into a Sweatshop, with people working their butts off for little or no money. I’ve been doing this blogging [...]

  11. All Work & No Pay Makes Bloggers…Carry On? « VOIP CALLS BLOG says:

    [...] read a blog post over the weekend on Men With Pens. In it the author argued that Blogging is Turning Into a Sweatshop, with people working their butts off for little or no money. I’ve been doing this blogging [...]

  12. [...] etc., when you’re doing it all gratis. (James Chartrand has a great post on “sweatshop blogging.”)  So naturally, you branch out into products and [...]

  13. [...] It’s not sustainable for me to keep working for free. There is a lot of energy that goes into the work I do. Every blog post takes 1-5 hours to research [...]

  14. [...] industry. They’re not in the business of giving free information to their customers. Free information doesn’t make money. Free information doesn’t pay the lease on their brick-and-mortar store. Free information [...]

  15. [...] sells from Canadian freelance writer James Chartrand and US writer Taylor Lindstrom Great post: Are Bloggers Creating Their Own Sweatshop? Twitter: [...]

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