Making the trains run on time
He stays afloat
Keeping Bloggers Afloat
by BooMan23 [Subscribe]
Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 05:22:47 PM PDT
There has been a lot of recent controversy over bloggers that take on different roles. For example, bonddad, Chris Bowers, and thereisnospoon have recently launched a consulting firm called NetRoots Research, Strategy & Analysis. Peter Daou has taken a job with Hillary Clinton. Obviously, Jerome Armstrong's role within the Warner campaign has been a hot topic recently. The cold hard reality of political blogging is that it doesn't pay very well. Only Duncan Black and Markos Moulitsas make what I would consider a decent living off their websites. The rest of us struggle to pay the rent. (This is a reminder that you can help me pay my bills by visiting the Booman Tribune store).
A decision to use the skills and influence we have gained as bloggers to make some income is one that must be weighed against the loss of independence that comes with creating a conflict of interest. Peter Daou now has the job of making Hillary Clinton palatable to the netroots (no enviable task) and no amount of disclosure will restore his prior freedom to tell it like he sees it. Yet, anyone that would be critical of Peter for taking a job with the former first lady that actually pays real money and (hopefully) comes with medical benefits, is being grossly unfair. As long as everything is disclosed, we should be happy that Peter has this opportunity.
If we want bloggers, particularly community bloggers, to maintain their independence we need to make sure they can make a living. When I was down in DC for the Take America Back 2006 conference, I was talking to Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla about our financial woes. We started brainstorming ways that smaller bloggers can increase their income, and we came up with the kernel of an idea.
If you have ever visited Salon.com you've noticed that they require you, if you want to read an entire article, to either pay for a subscription or watch an advertisement. We thought, eureka, can't we create a monthly e-zine of some of the more popular bloggers where bloggers can contribute exclusive material not available at their own websites?
One of the problems with the diary format is that it is quite limiting. We have to make our points in no more than about 1500 words or people will lose interest and not make comments in our threads. But, a lot of us would like to do more comprehensive and well researched pieces that are not designed to encourage lively feedback. Without the pressure to constantly provide fresh content, we can put our writing, reasoning, and research skills to greater use and do more wonky or hacky pieces.
We could create a kind of co-operative, where the contributors would make an equal share of the proceeds each month from the proceeds of subscriptions and advertisements. The model would be salon.com. Do you think that we could succeed with such a model? Would you be interested in reading longer exclusive pieces from your favorite bloggers on a monthly basis? Would you subscribe to such a publication? If it helps more bloggers maintain their independence, would that be something you see as desireable? Do you have any ideas for how to improve the business model? Would you volunteer to help write the software or sell subsciptions and advertising? What bloggers would you like to see in such a publication?
Actually, I don't think that a brokerage would fund this like Salon was, but something has to give. I mean, it's great Clinton hired Peter Daou, but there are people who want to report and not work for pols and they need options as well.
We can build our own media, but we have to build it.
This is what I wrote to the annoying posters on Kos shooting at this idea.
Folks, this is a discussion where most of you don't know what you're talking about.
Booman wants to make a living so he can give YOU a better product. I can take money and buy books and pay for services like Times Select, so you don't have to. I can support other bloggers. I can buy equipment. But I am still far from paying for reporting.
I've been very lucky, but y'all need to get over the idea that this can be done for free. Slashdot is a profit making enterprise for a reason. It costs money.
So does blogging. Because it takes time to actually research topics, go places and the like.
Reporting is expensive. It cost money to go places and the more people who can do this full time, the better the work you'll get.
If you want punditry forever, this is a perfect system. But if you want real reporting, from trained people, it isn't going to be cheap and you need to realize that now.
Here's what a full time blogger can do: not worry about a boss, post on a constant basis, actually report on stories away from their desk.
You want the benefits of blogging, but act like it's some kind of sin to actually invest time and money in it.
As far as building the site, the man is asking for help, and the people who jumped on him should be ashamed. How many of you work this hard at anything, including a blog? Why should he have to take a vow of poverty to keep you informed, because you can't make extra money when you have a blog to keep up, no side jobs and blogging. You can't exactly work, blog and freelance.
Oh yeah, speaking of freelancing, check on TAPPED's rates and see how many pieces they would have to buy for you not to be broke.
I refused help and money for a long time, until my readers said I needed to get paid for what I did. It wasn't my idea. But they were right.
And the people who say get a job should try full-time blogging, and then we can talk about what a job is.
People cannot do this for free. Money makes for a better product and if you want to build a new media, it has to be built. And you have to help do it, not jump down someone's throat because they came to you for help.
This isn't about the model, although I think a real publication by bloggers could blow Salon and TNR out of the water given the quality of the work here, but about the idea.
And instead of ripping it apart while you sip Starbucks at work, why not think of a way to make it happen?
posted by Steve @ 2:23:00 AM