Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Lesson From Olivia – Be Smart About Blogging For Profit

One of the amazing things that happened at BlogHer 2008 was the beginning of mainstream media outreach to certain bloggers to create content for their existing web sites or new blog portals.

This is not a bad thing. I repeat, it is extraordinary good thing that type of opportunity is taking place. However, there are parts of my mind that are howling like an old yappy dog. Something is amiss. I can’t see it as yet. I have the scent but I don’t have anything tangible. It nagged me on Day 2 and all the way home.

A song came to my rescue. Once upon a time there was a song called (Olivia) Lost and Turned Out. You might say it was an educational tale of guy observing a young girl sliding into prostitution. Basically it was a warning song to young women about that silk and wool dressed guy down the street. Here is the portion of the lyrics:

Olivia stop and think

(Lost and turned out)

He’s taking your cash to his bank

(Lost and turned out)

So what the heck has this got to do with academics, education or research?

Historically, when a formerly disenfranchised or disrespected group of people have something of value that cannot be dismissed, re-engineered or outright stolen from them the next level is the assimilation process.

Here is an example. Bessie Smith. She was a blues artist who was paid a flat fee of $200 per recording. Her first recording sold 800,000 records. Ultimately Bessie’s records made millions of dollars but not for her. Bessie had to go on the road performing constantly to recoup a fraction of her earnings.

Bloggers have been dismissed. Newspapers have stopped calling writers and journalists who produce columns and now call them bloggers with blogs. There are TV and newspapers that snag blog content without attribution or payment.

I do not want any BlogHer (or anyone else) who wants to write for money lost and turned out. Now there are a lot of shady silk and wool dressed folks who want to separate you from your money and/or content. Some are obvious scammers and some come in really pretty packages with credible business histories.

If you do your homework you will be safe and profitable (however you define it). If you decide to commit to the business side of blogging, I beg of you, learn your craft. That craft includes research skills, writing, marketing, ethics, transparencies and disclosures to your audience and so much more.

I'd like to share with you a few bloggers that are safe harbors of information. This folks who will be honest and give you the reality check that you need.

Amy Gahran did a great job in her workshop and her site is packed with information on the intersections of journalism, new media and her connections to other people who have wisdom to share.

Sharon Hurley Hall at Get Paid To Write Online has a great post about not writing for ad revenue, in her opinion you should write for cash:

What they want me to do is to spend hours, days and weeks creating a good blog for someone else’s site on the off chance that their marketing methods will drive lots of traffic to the site.

You could spend a month reading Darren Rowse's If you don't have a month then at least check out his post on A Reality Check about Blogging for Money You can also get a sense of trends by viewing his video on the five emerging trends he sees for the coming year.

Rebecca at Writer's Round-About is also another source on the reality of the writing life.  Deb at Network Blogging Tips has a post on Knowing When to Say No(and when not to) on how to balance the work load.

Well, this will get you started. One thing as a community we can do is to share experiences with positive resources and those we need to stay away from. Let's learn from Olivia and Bessie and build a better path to prosperity. As always, I invite your comments.

This post also appears on BlogHer.

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