There isn’t a week that goes by when some PR company or other tries to get me to blog some story for their clients. PR Companies are shameless about getting paid by their clients, some like Matthew Hooton even charge clients for getting stories seeded in blogs. They also never pay the bloggers for the services that they bill their clients for.
For them they justify their poor ethics by sniffing that bloggers shouldn’t get paid, all the time billing the client handsomely.
Courtney Lambert has blogged about the propensity of professional media, who think nothing of getting paid themselves also sniffily dismissing the idea that bloggers should be paid:
So why would anyone want to pay a blogger?
Because there is a global market for quality content and people should be financially remunerated for producing good work.
The Huffington Post also has people that contribute content that aren’t paid by Huffington Post but are paid by their respective organisations to share ideas and get a viewpoint across. HuffPost provides a microphone for interest groups and politicians to speak to an audience. So John Kerry obviously isn’t paid to write a blog post but his motivations for contributing should be very clear. Consultants and figureheads often ‘vanity blog’ to get their brands in front of people and demonstrate thought leadership. Nothing new there.
Sometimes I will write a post on this blog and have an editor contact me to produce a paid article for their website or magazine on the same topic. Does that make me a paid blogger? Or does that then make me a freelancer? What’s the difference and does it really matter? If I write an article for a magazine do I have to declare that I was paid x cents per word?
The overarching business model of media is quite straightforward and a blanket assumption that blogger’s contributions should never be paid for or that paying for blog content is in some way unethical is a bit simplistic.
A more useful question is why would anybody not want to pay a blogger?
The media poach stories off bloggers all the time, more often than not without attribution. The journalists that poach the stories all get paid, why shouldn’t we? Fairfax even stole a whole story and image from me, then had the temerity to copyright their story.
Perhaps it is just that we as bloggers need to find a remuneration model that works…for us. Certainly advertising rates need to improve as our audience improves.