Blogging for free: Would you do it?

BlogHer Original Post

So about a year ago I began to do something that other bloggers might consider to be most sinful: I started blogging on another site for free.

I know! Try to remove your jaw from the floor while I give my reasons for taking up this opportunity because it wasn't the first time and let's face it, it probably won't be the last time.

It's flattering when people enjoy your somewhat flippant attitude towards subject matter that others might take very seriously (*straightens up and fixes Windsor knot*). But for me personall as a blogger, it's something that has slowly evolved from being up in arms/the world will implode type attitude to somewhat chill. And it was that style of honesty that compelled a website to ask me to write about my work life and personal finance again from the 20 something perspective. But for free. I said yes because SOMEONE LIKES ME! THEY REALLY LIKE ME. And did it once a month for a while and then quit because it was like doing double duty and another place *ahem* was paying me really well to do just that. So while it was great and a bit heady for awhile, I stepped down.

Then came the second opportunity. I have a hobby that I enjoy. Two friends are proprietors of a site where I can write freely - and with the same cheeky attitude - about my hobby. And so when they extended an offer for me to write there, I said yes. Despite the lack of money, I justified it by the click throughs I would get to my site thus increasing my ad revenue as well as the fact that it gave me an excuse to enjoy this hobby every week. Alone. And there's nothing I enjoy more than having a good reason to be a misanthrope. Also the amount of time that I actually spent doing the writing - which is the hard part - is roughly 30 minutes. In my world, it seemed like an excellent opportunity. For the record, it's a job that I have no intention of giving up at any point in the near future.

Though there are times when I become understandably frustrated and throw my hands in the air while asking God why oh why, I decided to do this there has never been a moment when I've felt like one unpaid blogging gig is selling my soul the devil. Perhaps it's the narcissist in me that doesn't mind the extra exposure and pocket change. For these are the same reasons for why when most people ask for me to guest post for them, I usually say yes. It's always a chance to put your name out there and then to do something different with your writing. Also I blog for free at a place that isn't a fortune 500 company and it's once a week compared to others who are doing it daily. For me, I'm fine with my freelancing lot in life.

There is the flip side though. There always is. Huge conglomerates that don't pay bloggers and feel that it's OK not to pay these bloggers because by virtue of the HUGENESS of the site, that blogger will inevitably be on a trajectory towards Web 2.0 popularity. Just today I heard that Today.com pays bloggers $1 per post and are proud of this because they're helping bloggers get their voices heard. Huffington Post - which I just found out recently - doesn't pay their bloggers either and is a site entirely run by free bloggers who they never intend to pay. Then again, I know of a few bloggers there who have had stories picked up by mainstream media sites. But is that enough compensation for the hours spent on a blog post?

Tmainstream media AND new media sometimes aren't too keen on paying their writers because they truly believe that these bloggers are the little guy and by allowing a blogger on their site for free, is actually a very virtuous thing that they're doing; feels so very condescending. Look at this favor I am doing for you! Thank me! While understandable that someone would pick up a free blogging gig here and there, the fact that larger media outlets (US News is another example) seem to ostensibly be using bloggers, makes my blood boil.

But I'm in a different spot. I don't rely on my freelancing for my only source of income. I don't feel as if I have to run out and find the jobs wherever on the basis of exposure because I still have my day job to go to. Now if the tables were turned and I was a freelancer? Would I be a little less ornery about the whole thing? Probably. Because in the grand scheme of things getting your name out there is getting your name out there. A free blogging gig is like an internship. I interned twice in college for free and guess what? It helped my career immensely.

This is the choice that bloggers/freelancers need to make for themselves. They need to figure out how much they are worth and if the benefit of the position in question is worth it for them in the long and/or short run. Jennifer at Network Blogging Tips has written a how-to on calculating your blogging rate. Besides your relative worth think about the position. To write a once a week movie review for free is far different from managing a site for $7 an hour. Read, Write, Web has a great post on how much top tier bloggers and social media consultants are making. Gawker has a post on what free bloggers are giving up for blogging when they 'give up' their content and Network blogging tips also asks how low will you go in blogging wages.

The latter is exactly what I'm asking here except in a more roundabout way because it's rude for me to be all up in your grill asking "So? How much do YOU make?". But the question isn't how much but more what do you think you are worth? Would you ever blog for free? What would make it worth it to you?

Heather B. blogs for what might as well be free at No Pasa Nada.

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