Should You Allow Major Media to Publish Your Blog Posts?

Filed as News on March 25, 2008 8:09 am

I need your help.

Several times over the past few months I’ve been approached by major media companies looking to utilize my blogging skills. Sounds great, right? Not really. Because in all cases, they expected me to do it for free.

We’re not talking about excerpts from my blog. We are talking about original articles (within my blogging genre) that appear exclusively on their Website.

Sure, they’re willing to give me a byline and a link, but at the end of the day, who really wins? How many people truly care who wrote what. These days, most readers hardly know what blog they are on, let alone who wrote an article. And even if people click on my link, we all know that only a small fraction of page viewers will click-through.

Additionally, I might be hurting my blog’s content by “giving away” good concepts and content.

So let’s recap:

The media company gets good content for free.

I get my name “out there” and a few click-throughs.

Is it worth it? This appears to be a growing trend: major media relying on free content from bloggers. There are even free Websites like Blog Burst that will set it up.

I’m not stupid. I know that even if I decline these offers, the next guy will jump on them.

As bloggers, are we wise to take these opportunities? And if we do, could we potentially be selling ourselves short?

I don’t have the answer. Do you?

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  1. By Thud posted on March 25, 2008 at 8:47 am
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    No, you shouldn’t do it. People get a good deal of content for free from people who want to get their name “out there.” Neophyte writers write for copies, new designers do a lot of free work on spec, and these folks all get taken advantage of.

    You’re better off building your own brand and controlling your own brand than you are doing free writing. If you’re not going to get to control your brand, you should at least be compensated.

    Reply

  2. By Jose posted on March 25, 2008 at 8:54 am
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    No way!

    Getting your name out there is a ruse used by companies who try to hire freelancers all the time. “This will look good in your portfolio.”

    If they see value in your perspective and opinion, they should be willing to part with some of their value ($) in return.

    Reply

  3. By Andrew G.R. posted on March 25, 2008 at 9:22 am
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    Are there any bloggers out there who have had SUCCESS giving away their stories for free to major media?

    I find it interesting that the majority of bloggers promote the benefits of guest posts, but seem adamantly against giving stories to major media.

    I whole-heartedly agree that media companies should pay (hence the original post). However, other than deep pockets and the prospect of a large audience, what’s the real difference?

    Reply

  4. By Steve posted on March 25, 2008 at 9:37 am
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    I’m not a pro-blogger by any means, but I wouldn’t allow them to republish without compensation. They make money from ads on the pages where content is held, and they’re looking to make some bucks from your work.

    Now, that’s not to say that I myself haven’t created content specifically for other blogs; I’ve done that. I’ve also hosted that same content on my own blog. I think that’s a different case though.

    The company’s you’re talking about are out to make money, and someone there is looking to increase their bottom line with your work.

    Don’t do it for free.

    Reply

  5. By Michael Clark posted on March 25, 2008 at 10:35 am
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    One of my blogs is in a very specific niche for a fairly specific geographic region, and if the local “major media” newspaper asked if I would write for them, I’d do it for free if they linked to my site with my byline. In my niche, that visibility would be a *huge* plus.

    Reply

  6. By doug m posted on March 25, 2008 at 10:46 am
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    i wouldn’t do it. they’re the ones who will win in the end, because the content resides on their side, not yours. keep the original stuff here until they offer some sort of compensation that is worthy of the content they want you to write

    Reply

  7. By Louis Gray posted on March 25, 2008 at 10:59 am
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    I’ve used BlogBurst for a few months, and while it’s fun to show something I’ve written appear on the Web version of Reuters, it’s not something that drives a lot of traffic or sticky visitors. You’ll get more exposure from a single good post on TechMeme than any syndication like this.

    Reply

  8. By Amber in Albuquerque posted on March 25, 2008 at 11:17 am
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    Giving content to another blogger for free (doing a guest post) is a way of building community and extending the reach of the blogosphere. The second the original blog starts promoting guest posts by you to increase its traffic/revenue (if it has advertisers) is the second you should start charging for guest posts because the goal is no longer providing information, but generating revenue.

    Generating traffic/revenue is one of reasons the major media is requesting your services. Sure, maybe some rookie will provide them with free content, but it won’t have the authority of the content that comes from an established blogger.

    Which brings me to my second point…established bloggers providing free content to major media allows the major media to establish/build authority/credibility on issues for which many readers currently turn almost exclusively to the blogosphere. It may end up diminishing the blogosphere’s power in the long run if the best bloggers give away their content to major media…it may end up diminishing the blogosphere’s power if you sell it to them too.

    Perhaps the difference lies in the goals…in my opinion the primary goal of the major media is to make money, not to provide content. In contrast, the primary goal of the blogosphere is to provide content with revenue being an important, but secondary consideration for some (but not all bloggers. When the money becomes the primary goal (especially if it becomes the primary goal of a majority of bloggers), the intellectual freedom of this form of media will be lost…to what extent remains open for debate.

    I’m not saying that a writer/blogger shouldn’t sell his or her work to the mainstream media, but I recommend a much more thorough examination of the possible consequences before doing so.

    For example (I usually blog about knitting), the major knitting media (oxymoron?) use their ‘blogs’ largely to advertise or otherwise pimp their products (patterns, yarn, publications, etc.)…not to provide entertainment or information for its own sake (that is, they ‘emulate’ the blogosphere, they aren’t really part of it). Blogs by other knitters, however, are used to entertain and/or provide free information to readers…they engage readers on a completely different level than the commercial ‘blogs’. Some of these bloggers are freelance writers who also sell columns to the knitting media and contribute to or author their own books, but their blogs are not used to generate revenue in any significant way and the content they sell for publication has a distinctly different look and feel than that on their blogs (or when they are guest posting on some other knitting blog).

    What is the difference between providing an article/editorial for pay and providing a ‘blog post’ for pay? Well, that may depend on the answer to the following question…

    Is the blogosphere a unique and independent web entity where the major media can emulate the entity’s format, but not its essential ‘spirit’ or is it merely another means of disseminating information on the web, in which case it isn’t much different from other sources (online magazines, newspapers, video news sites, etc.)?

    Beats me, but it probably bears some further thought, exploration, discussion.

    Reply

  9. By mike L. posted on March 25, 2008 at 11:30 am
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    I was a janitor once at a tv company, and I learned that big media companies don’t pay anyone except a few people at the very top and the big stars. Everyone else gets peanuts or even works for free. They aren’t doing anything different with bloggers.

    Reply

  10. By Virginia posted on March 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm
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    No. Do not give anything away except on your own blog. If you are writing for someone else, you should be compensated somehow, even if it’s just a percentage of the advertising they earn off of you.

    At least these guys deserve credit for asking permission, however. Somebody regularly steals my entire blog post and reproduces it with a link back to my site. Whoever it is doesn’t even call me by the right name. Irritating.

    Reply

  11. By Pradeep Nair posted on March 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm
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    I think it’s quite clear. A blog is no different from any other media of expression. Just as a newspaper or magazine wouldn’t expect to use another publication’s material for free, it shouldn’t expect to use a blog material too for free.

    Reply

  12. By Chris Marshall | Martial Development posted on March 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm
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    I’ve received those same pitches–told I should be appreciative that the aggregator would republish my hard work “with no additional effort required on my part”.

    I’d consider sharing or creating specific posts for specific purposes, but it would be crazy to grant a blanket permission to your full feed!

    Reply

  13. By Andrew G.R. posted on March 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm
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    I think Amber hit the nail on the head:

    “It may end up diminishing the blogosphere’s power in the long run if the best bloggers give away their content to major media.”

    Mike L. – I could not agree more with you about the media paying a select few. We always hear that content is king. Yet, they pay content creators like paupers. Been there, done that.

    I appreciate everyone’s comments. And I concur with most. However I have a sneaking suspicion that many ‘up-and-coming’ bloggers are way too eager to ‘sell the ranch’ for major media exposure.

    Reply

  14. By yoshi posted on March 25, 2008 at 2:37 pm
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    I wouldn’t do it. I would ask for compensation writing “new” articles, however, any already published articles should stay where they are. There’s no reason for you to have to give up your articles you’ve already written.

    If they like your old articles, then let them use your skills for new articles that you write for them for compensation. That’s what I’d do.

    Reply

  15. By Michael posted on March 25, 2008 at 10:56 pm
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    When anyone offers to pay for your writing with exposure, reply that, in the winter, writers can die from exposure.

    Reply

  16. By Tiri posted on March 25, 2009 at 2:19 pm
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    I know this thread is now a year old, and it might be that no one will ever read this comment, but I just stumbled upon this today and wanted to say…
    I say it largely depends on why you write.

    Is it for yourself? Want to see your words in print? Do you write to toss your thoughts to the masses? Do you write for the paycheck? Are you hoping to be recognized for a personal brilliance? Is it the feedback that you crave?

    I don’t think it’s as much about bloggers vs mainstream as it is about what you really want, and whether allowing that mainstream reproduction (paid or not) helps you get that.
    my $0.02

    Reply

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