On Blogging and Money

Scout e-mailed thisover during discussion of the ongoing Pajamas Media meltdown:

I’m not complaining; I’ve had a good run on PJM. They were very
accommodating to me when I needed to either stop being a PJM
“exclusive” or stop being a blogger altogether, and I have very much
enjoyed writing features for them – some of which I’ve beenpretty proud of (and I hope haveenhanced, rather thandulled PJM’sreputation) – and I suspect I will still submit a piece to PJM, now and again, particularly onissues ofreligion – which is one area the gang does not have covered, and where I do think I hadsomething tooffer.

It is alittle of a bummer, though. I’d
finally reached a point where I was breaking $1,000 a quarter in
earnings. Yes, it’s a pittance and laughable, but frankly, it was the
difference between staying alive as a (mostly) full-time blogger
posting daily, or having to find other work and post just a few times a
week. I’ll have to re-think the blog a bit, now, and figure out how to
either make up for the lost revenue or substantially cut my blogging
time, in order to work at something else.

Emphasis in the original. But $1,000 a quarter seems to me to be a great deal more than a pittance. Maybe this is just me trolling the Craigslist writing boards recently looking for … I dunno, inspiration, but some of the offers for writing THERE make me laugh out loud. Or the people that want you to blog for them “for the recognition,” but the site’s one I’ve never heard of, or the company’s a startup, or the company is freaking huge and they’re just being cheap, in other words, the recognition doesn’t seem like that big of a prize. Or they pay you based on traffic. For a new blog. Which it will take you a year of constant work to bring up to even a minimal amount of readership. GAH.

Pajamas Media sounded like a pretty sweet deal, compared to what else is out there in the wilderness. What happened to them sounds like a classic case of expectations being set too high. I remember their launch, when they were going to overtake the whole entire press establishment and do their own journalism and whatnot, and it sounded GREAT on paper, but you can’t do that in three years just by … blogging. You have to be prepared to sink some serious cash into newsgathering and then just wait, for people to get good, for people to learn, for readers to come, for the new model to catch on, and of course there was the little problem of hiring complete and total assclowns with no connection to reality to provide your content at a time when the national conversation was about to shift dramatically from Bush to Who’s Next.

And I think there is a sense out there, STILL, that the Internet = instant money. Maybe people aren’t as wildly profligate with the venture capital as they were in the late 1990s but you see this in every story about newspaper readership and the web, this utter astonishment that you have to scramble and scrape and work for the dollars here just as you do elsewhere. There is no magic to it, you have to sell it here just like you have to sell everywhere else. I think people believe that the Internet is supposed to be different, and easy, and that has nothing to do with the facts on the ground and everything to do with believing one’s own hype.

(FYI, the Liberal BlogAds network, on its very best quarter for First
Draft, brings in wildly less than $1,000. More like $150, $200 on the best month we ever had, and
then for months there’s nada, and you can’t predict or control it. There may be massive money out there for
what we do, and I’m dedicating a certain amount of time lately trying
to get us noticed more so maybe some of that money can come our way,
but for right now, reader support is our main support. It allows us to do
things like travel to events to report on them, replace busted
equipment like a camera or a keyboard, and generally deal with what
needs dealing with, but this is a labor of love and passion, not a job. We’re so appreciative of what you give us during our annual fundraisers because
it means you like spending time here, you value what you get, and that
means the world. I’d never describe that as a pittance.)

A.

3 thoughts on “On Blogging and Money

  1. I’m dedicating a certain amount of time lately trying to get us noticed more so maybe some of that money can come our way
    Drunk-texting Soros again?

  2. The “work-for-recognition” trick isn’t limited to writing; a lot of TV production companies (like one I shall decline to name but their main character is a red monster whose name rhymes with “Shellmo”) expect an ungodly amount of work for virtually no pay. A prestigious non-profit group like the Shellmo people can get away with it, but this is the same business model followed by Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. Don’t even get me started on MTV. A lot of my friends ask me why I don’t work for a network; frankly, I can’t afford the pay cut. I have friends in the fashion industry who tell me that big names like Betsey Johnson also operate this way.
    One reason I’m ambivalent about the “decline” of mainstream media is the newsgathering aspect you discussed above; that shit costs a lot of money and frankly the MSM are the only people with the cash to do it. We had to have a fundraiser to send Sinfonian to the DNC for heaven’s sake. Are we going to have a bake sale to send the Rude Pundit to Gaza? Inane as they are, I’d rather have them out there spouting their bullshit so we can root through it and find out what’s really going on, kind of like Laura Dern rooting through the giant pile of dinosaur poop in Jurassic Park.

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