Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Stop Calling Me a Freakin' Blogger

angry school girl blogging versus writing
Do you remember my post about being an underpaid blogger, I Don't Give Blowjobs for Free? I'm sure you do, because that post seemed to touch a raw nerve and many of you left comments. Well, it's time to examine the issue once again.

In recent weeks, a certain major big-ass media corporation has been pitching local enthusiasts from a particular field for a "freelance editor" position in a new lifestyle section of its major big-ass media website. I won't mention the name, but suffice it to say that another local blogger, some award-winning dude who likes to take lots of photos, used to work for the same company. Emphasis on used to.

A friend of mine referred to me the position, for which I am grateful. The position seemed ideal regarding the topic I would cover, as I already have my feet quite soaked in the community as well as many connections with businesses and PR firms in that industry. A five-year track record of successful "blogging" for many outlets was a major plus.

The job would've also given me the opportunity to be an editor to other contributors and in short, be in charge of an entire section with a potential readership of hundreds of thousands, if not more. Attending and reporting at events, as well as taking pictures and video, would be required. In order to do the job right, factoring in drive time, I was looking at a minimum of 20 - 30 hours of work per week.

While this would have been a time suck on Sex and the Beach and my other freelance commitments, it sounded like a great opportunity to further my presence as a well-established online Miami "expert," something I've been cultivating for donkey's ages over at fabulous Miami Beach 411. And everybody knows I'm always out and about eating my way through the magic city anyway; if I were any more active, I'd be as awesome as Soul of Miami!

But here's the deal. What a fucking sham. The pay was so piss poor, it was downright insulting, not to mention laughable. And that's when I heard the words "it's really a blogger position," which made me cringe. Ugh.

I thought about it over the weekend and then decided to walk away from the application process, which required that I prove I could put together a blog ... imagine that!

I politely told big-ass major media corporation that I was better off putting great content on my own blog rather than giving it away for peanuts to a big-ass major media corporation. In other words, you can shove that job that comes down to less than a penny a word and less than a burger flipper at McDonald's by the hour. Oh and I forgot to mention: no benefits and no compensation for time off.

So, in short, they really wanted their cake and to eat it too. They wanted the experience, social media influence and depth of professional contacts of a 43 year-old professional writer, but only while paying measly college intern compensation, on which no adult could survive. Worse than that, at 20 posts were week, the position would become a freakin' boiler room word factory, leaving no energy and creative space for all the other writing projects I'd have to take on in order to make ends meet.

Listen, I don't give a shit about the economy or the recession. Big-ass major corporations, I'm not buying it that that's the reason you're willing to treat me like an indentured servant, because I do know that YOU are selling advertising in the millions and that my little handiwork in the feudal garden is going to rake in some big bucks for your deep overlord pocket.

"Bloggers" today are better off doing a side job and putting great content on their own sites until they can muster some quality advertising or some financially beneficial partnership. Again, why give blow jobs for free?

Seriously, people. On my press trip this weekend, a well-meaning but ignorant PR person actually had the nerve to ask me "so, your blog must have some credibility, then?" after I told him that "I wasn't a blogger, but a writer who happens to use the blog platform."

After this, I've decided I'm no longer a blogger, because if I say that, people think I am some floozy piece of shit whose writing experience of over 20 years isn't worth decent compensation. And this isn't just about me; it's about all the OTHER writers out there who could've been sucked into the "glamour" of working for a major media brand.

It's no coincidence that this big-ass major media corporation uses a peacock for its brand. Confucius say: "Walk under bird and bird will poop on you."

From now on it's this: "Hello, nice to meet you. I'm a writer who uses the blog platform, and you?" I know that sounds long-winded, but you bloggers out there, those of you in the same position as I, serious writers who just happen to use this means of broadcasting your words online, we need to educate people on the differences between a fluffy blog about furry kittens and an electronic publication produced by a professional writer.

Go out and educate! And don't whore yourself out, unless Richard Branson is hiring you!


Garrett Mickley said...

I follow you on twitter and this is the first of your blog posts I've ever read.

I find it disappointing that the term "Blogger" has such a negative connotation these days. I guess once it becomes mainstream and everyone and their mother have a blog, it gets that way. Over-saturated market by everyone on the internet who thinks they have something worth-while to say.

I work in SEO, so I never refer to myself a blogger, but an SEO Professional. However, when I look for side work writing, I always refer to myself as a content writer. Maybe you could try that?

Fifi McFeefi Gonzalez-Brickhouse said...

Yes! Definitely no blow jobs for free! And no milking my teets without paying fair market for the good delicious milk either!

Sadly, there will be some mommy blogger who will happily bend over for it's amazing how many people are blogger pretending to be writers. I mean, everyone is a writer I guess (I am writing this comment), but too many are putting themselves out there overnight as something special and really...they aren't.

You are though. :) Love you..

Beer Drinker Rob said...

That. Was. Awesome. And I'm glad you didn't rat out the actual company. :)

I couldn't agree more with everything you wrote. Personally, I hate being called a blogger which is funny because I use Blogger. I try to use "site" and "website" and "writer" in every place where the word blog would be used, despite not being a professional writer.

Thanks for the article.


mkhall said...

Blogging has become a way for companies to get keywords on their pages without incurring the wrath of Google and losing search rankings. To blog you just need keyword nouns and verbs and the occasional bit of punctuation. That's why overseas blogmills only ask $1 for 300 words.

This attitude would be a little easier to take but the reality is that writing no longer holds even the small value it did. Words are what you get someone to put together in their down time, when they aren't doing any real work. It's always assumed that writers earn their income elsewhere, so paying them is secondary.

Given the sorry state of most successful blogs, it's obvious that the readers neither know nor care about quality. Let the people have their McBloggies, if that's all it takes to nourish their minds.

gopalo said...

Hi Maria. I agree, but my angle is a but different.

I support the need for our community to communicate about opportunities and the value of our products/services in the marketplace. But ultimately, the marketplace determines our value.

Businesses seek value when they make an offer to a vendor, and the vendor freely makes the decision to accept the work or not. I believe in this system. That said, it doesn't always feel good when someone "lowballs" what I do but I try not to take it personally because I realize it's just business.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess -- AOL.

Jenny said...

Loves. Loves. That is all.

Tere said...

This is a good example of why I stick to a regular job and don't write for anyone but myself (with the exception of MB411, I'd do just about anything for them): bloggers, sadly, don't stand a chance at making a real living (with very rare exceptions) just from blogging. Either you're not a real writer/influencer in the eyes of a company in need of a writer with connections to the community and a readership, or you're not in a real writer in the eyes of traditional media in need of writers and editors.

I would love to follow my dream and just write and be all about community, but the truth is, I'm on my own, the bills have to get paid, and so, it just can't be.

Basically, we're not real writers in anyone but our own and our readers' eyes - at least, not legit enough to make a real, decent salary (unless you take on like 10 projects, and who can do that well?).

At the same time, every other person has a blog, and anyone can claim they have a following or influence or whatever. The sheer number of people making this claim (and the sheer number of blogs out there) makes it very hard to distinguish talented writers and/or writers with a true following from people who may have a blog but are frankly not great writers or are in it just to make a buck.

I think this is a failed/failing system as far as "making a living as a blogger" or "using blogger to jump off a writing career" goes.

Also, this is why I no longer write about anything pitched to me -- too much work on my part to shill products and services without any actual compensation. (I could rant on and on about this, but I'll save it for another day).

In the end, I'm much happier writing on my time, about what inerests me, without my livelihood depending on it. We're put at too much of a disadvantage for me to see this any other way.

Stephanie Quilao said...

Thank you for writing that!! When talking to advertisers and sponsors, I learned to stop calling myself a blogger and started calling myself a social media influential and then rolled out the numbers showing them my ability to draw an audience and get action. You get more money.

And I like how you pointed out that the big ass media mentality is to treat bloggers like indentured servants.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Oh my gosh, I think I love you. Seriously, that was awesome.

I am SO.TIRED. of being pitched to write for free, simply because I write, like I have nothing to write about except to paste and copy their stupid press releases and post pictures of events they want to publicize but not invite me to. Or, invite me to become brand advocates, and get "exposure" and "visibility" which is essentially what THEY THEMSELVES are looking for in me, yet, they don't want to PAY ME for my time. I'm supposed to do it all for free? Uh. No, dude. Hellz-to-the-no.

I'm going to start responding - "I'm sorry, I don't work for free. I appreciate that you thought of me, though. Keep me in mind for any paid opportunities in the future, then we'll talk."

(And that's being nice Lisa. Mean Lisa would use colorful words and say "ass" and "fuck" a lot, and probably scare them all off. )

Mike LaMonica said...

After I read this it made me think of the shows on National Geographic: "...and the predator tries to seek out the weak one from the herd..."

Well, they didn't find it in you. And they're not gonna find it here either.

Gopalo said,"ultimately, the marketplace determines our value." And I agree.

Your firm "no" to this company helps increase all of our market matter what you call yourself.

And for that all us writers owe you a big thanks.


mike said...

What's wrong with furry kitten blogs?

Seriously, previous commenters are right - the marketplace will determine the price. What irritates you and so many others is that big media outfits like this are only willing to pay for cheap crap.

Jeff Zelaya said...

"I wasn't a blogger, but a writer who happens to use the blog platform." - Favorite line of the year.

gopalo said...

Good point, Mike. If enough people refuse to work for cheap, this will help slow down "the race to the bottom". And if a company only is willing to put out "cheap crap" then hopefully their customers will notice this, sales will be affected, and they will have to step up the quality. Hence, they will have to pay for it. All hail the great free market system!!! :) Unfortunately sometimes it doesn't work too well.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Confucius say you funny!

It's pretty sad to think a media corporation wouldn't value any kind of communication, even a "lowly" blog. They more than other types of companies should know it takes talent and skill to write, and that kind of work should be compensated.