Thursday, August 29, 2002

Would You Ever Pay For It?

Recently, over on Daily Pundit, one of my favorite blogs, it has been revealed that some new outfit, Blogging Network, is offering to pay bloggers, (mostly, I think, because they will charge the readers, and give the bloggers half of the money so raised, according to some algorithm that allows them to reward higher traffic with higher cash). When I read that, I simply had to post the following comment:
Bill, you're up against the law of supply and demand here. There are hundreds of thousands of free blogs. There always will be. There have been since the beginning of the internet. Only their popularity has increased lately (since 9/11).

I wish you luck with this venture. If a second market could be developed, and you can get paid, great for you. It all relates to your purpose for doing this. You claim to be a professional who must be paid for your work. That is wonderful for you. Me, I would/could never charge for my blog. That would change the entire purpose of the blog in the first place.

There are many areas of human endeavor where a few charge money for what others give away for free. No one can deny, however, that the quality of the paid service is fundamentally different from the free stuff. Sex with someone you love is totally different from sex with a prostitute.

You may be overlooking one thing, however. While you may make some money off those customers who prefer to pay, are you considering how many readers will look elsewhere for their free stuff? And, if so, will you be able to reclaim your vaunted former traffic if the new venture fails?

I wish you luck. I truly do. And I'm so sorry to see you go.

Upon further reflection, maybe I should not have alluded to the fact that he is acting like a hooker, but then I thought, why, I stand behind the thought.

People publish blogs for different reasons. I do mine in an attempt to continue a conversation that I can no longer have since my father died. This is my remaining outlet for those ideas, and, while I do get a kick out of the fact that people read this stuff, that is an extra bonus. Charging money for this would be anathema to me. I simply could not do it. It helps that I don't need the money, and am able to find the time. Maybe if time and money were dearer to me, I would change my mind.

For those who need the money, I wonder why they are even in this space in the first place. Other than Andrew Sullivan, no blogger even pretends that he (or she) makes money at this. A talented writer gets paid well, and there is plenty of demand. If I were a writer I would never give my professional product away. In fact, in my business I have something of a reputation as a hard ass when it comes to getting paid up front and never giving discounts. I am not a writer, though. I have always believed that writing is a discipline, not a talent. I might or might not have the talent, but I refuse to employ the discipline. Even my goal of posting something every day to this blog is out of my grasp, mostly because I eschew the discipline required. (okay, maybe anathema and eschew were used incorrectly here, but I just felt that they belonged here)

Far be it from me to tell anyone else how to lead their life, but it seems more than obvious that anyone who moves on to a paying gig will find their place taken if and when they try to return, and it is also true that something given freely is fundamentally different than a service offered for a fee. Sorry if anyone was offended.