Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?: This Blogger's Potential Swan Song...

It's not a good time to be a blogger. Not if you're doing this as your profession and using your pieces to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. Even worse if you're the sole (or only) "breadwinner" in the household.

Blogging, as a business, is still relatively new, in that there are no set parameters that carry across industries within the medium. Since anybody and everybody can start a website these days (and so many just do), it becomes increasingly more difficult to weed out the legitimate businesses from the "fan" or otherwise amateur sites. New sites start up every day, making promises they often can't keep even if their intentions are good. They ask for content for a byline and exposure, saying they are "thisclose" to signing a great deal that would make you as a writer "very happy" if you worked there. Hence, you should take a chance and work there.

Even the better known blogs are struggling these days. Advertising money only brings in so much, and the more traffic directed to a site, the larger the costs associated with running the site, leaving any profits trickling-- rather than streaming-- down to those creating the content that is becoming so popular. They take on more interns or replace hard-working freelancers with younger writers just out of college who not only can and will work cheaper but are ready, willing, and able to be completely molded to what the site thinks is the next trend in voice or style.

Or worse, they completely change terms of a contract, creating a complicated (and admittedly seemingly bogus) metric system as a way of paying for your article performance rather than the simple pay-per-click from which you had finally figured out how to best capitalize. All of a sudden, you are no longer merely a content contributor but you have to be a marketing coordinator-- not just for your own articles but for the site as a whole, as a brand, too-- or you won't see the same paychecks. It's not that it's double the work, but it's that it's a whole different kind of work, and perhaps not what you signed up for in the first place.

Hard to consider them legitimate businesses when they only deal in imaginary currency, though...

I'm not going to say which situation I have found myself in this week. It's probably pretty obvious for those of you who know me outside of this little online world and have heard me talk about my place(s) of recent employment. But I have said this before (and I'll say it again now): I started writing about pop culture because of a deep love and understanding of it and a desire to, for once, allow it to unite me with a group of people rather than set me apart as an odd-ball. I've always been interested in the creativity of it and in the art of writing itself. Crafting a story to highlight what I consider the most interesting, unique, or otherwise important aspects of a show or celebrity and opening a dialogue for like-minded people to share their own opinions and ideas and theories. But in the year I have been pursuing it as a full-time job, being a one-woman show as an independent contractor has forced me to focus on a lot of the bureaucratic business elements to the industry, and just like when I was in production and would run up against political or financial walls, I am finding that here, too, it is sucking the fun and love out of it.

Clearly it doesn't pay well, and when the love is stripped away, too, what's left?

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