The Huffington Post’s practice of not paying people for their work has been riling writers lately. In the latest irritant, the Post convinced massage therapists to go to the political conventions for free. The national exposure was supposed to serve as payment of sort.
The National Writers Union was up in arms, according to a listserv that I subscribe to, WriterL, presumably because of the general idea that HuffPo is creating some sort of all-volunteer economy, as Alex Pareene called it on Salon.com. HuffPo does not typically pay writers.
We’ve never blogged for HuffPo, but we have done bits and pieces of content for other big aggregators that pay nothing or very little, like Forbes.
Without trashing HuffPo – a site that we have mixed feelings about — we’d suggest that writers treat that kind of writing like an investment.
Use those sites to accomplish very clear goals. Perhaps you’re experimenting with a new audience, or you are trying to drive traffic to a site that actually pays you. If the latter is what’s on your mind, though, make sure you’ve done the math. Is the end result of the traffic worth your time on an hourly basis. Does it come close?
If you’re going to work for free, there may be much better places to support than Huffington Post. Wouldn’t you, for instance, get as much exposure — and perhaps in a more targeted way — by volunteering some writing services to a nonprofit, or an professional organization?
It may be satisfying to think of “national exposure” and to watch the traffic numbers tick upward. Neither satisfaction nor traffic pays the bills.
Here’s an interesting piece by Nate Silver on the economics of blogging for HuffPo. Reading it will probably convince you not to waste your time. http://nyti.ms/fD20AL.
Here’s a story we wrote a while ago about a journalist who made a decision to break away from the traffic addiction: High-End Business Model Helps Freelancer Thrive.