Unpaid Writers, Both Literal And Hypothetical

by anna on February 15, 2011

Kids, if you haven’t yet noticed, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m not functioning at full capacity lately. As such I’ve found it very difficult to write good content for this section of the website in particular. It kills me to put this whole section out to pasture for part of or the duration of my morning sickness, though, so I’m currently entertaining the possibility of hosting a few guest posts here. If you’re interested, please pitch me (anna at abdpbt View definition in a new window dot com) your idea and I’ll mull it over. Basically, if the topic is the business of blogging, and it sounds like something readers here will like, I want to hear about it.

I do have some mixed feelings about guest posting — for one thing, I’ve always felt that this blog is kind of inextricably tied to my voice, and for another, we all know how ambivalent I am toward the concept of unpaid (or low-paid) writing labor in general. That said, writing one guest post is a little different from signing up to be an unpaid “citizen journalist” indefinitely. So here are my rules, if anybody cares (and it’s very probably that nobody does, except me, but just to make things clear):

  1. All guest posts will have an author’s bio plus a link back to the author’s blog or business or whatever they want within the text of the post;
  2. I will only accept one guest post from any one blogger;
  3. There will be a (pathetic) payment of $15 for each post I use;
  4. The topic has to be amenable to the general zeitgeist of ABDPBT Personal Finance in general, i.e. no copy-and-pasted PR releases about Disney Cruises or the latest bullshit brand ambassador program (unless, of course, you have some kind of inside dirt that you want to share that will ensure it’s worth all of us reading); and
  5. I reserve the right to be rigorous in determining what is acceptable guest post material, and am guessing most of it will not be acceptable because I’m super crabby and difficult to please.

I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass about “exposure” here because, you know, whatever — everybody knows it’s kind of a crapshoot whether or not a guest post will really lead to a bunch of clickthroughs or new readers. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. But maybe there’s something you’ve been wanting to say about this topic you can’t say on your own blog, I don’t know. Give it some thought.

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Now, just to be totally hypocritical, I’m going to link to some of the interesting articles I’ve been reading about AOL’s recent purchase of the Huffington Post for $315 million. It seems that, now that there’s an actual, verifiable dollar amount attached to the value of the Huffington Post, some people are up in arms about the fact that they use unpaid writers! What do you know? Of course the deal is far more complex than many of these articles suggest (e.g. some of the Huffington Post’s staff is paid, and its tough to say how much of their traffic is actually produced by unpaid writers, etc.), but the discussion is still intriguing. As I said to Carla (who sent me the links to most of these, btw), I wonder if the New York Times will be called an angry jealous and bitter troll View definition in a new window for raising some of these questions? (My guess is no).

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{ 1 comment }

1
Brooke February 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I read this article and thought of you:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/an-open-letter-to-arianna_1_b_822454.html?show_comment_id=77232354#comment_77232354

I thought it was an interesting position on the exposure from blogging for free on a site like the HuffPo. Obviously most people blogging for free aren’t getting the exposure that someone would there, so it’s not really a good comparison to most of the blogosphere. And, if the writer were paid, he would still be getting exposure, though they certainly would likely have to be more discerning about the content they allowed and the number of bloggers they employed.

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