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5/06/2008
What Are My Words Worth?
Before I get down to the nitty gritty, I have a review up at Law(yer Mama) Review. Did you read the book, The Three Martini Playdate? I read it; my husband read it; we both loved it. So when PBN gave me the opportunity to review Christie Mellor's latest book, Were You Raised By Wolves? I had to do it. So head over to Lawyer Mama Review and see what I thought.

Because you know the world revolves around my opinion....

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A few weeks ago, the bloggers on D.C. Metro Moms blog had some interesting news. We're being syndicated. The founders of Silicon Valley Moms Blog, and all its various regional offshoots, negotiated an agreement with the McClatchy Group to syndicate three to five posts a week from the SV Moms Blogs. The McClatchy Group selected the first three posts about three weeks ago. My post about Sexism in Advertising was one of them.

Here's the kicker: none of us, not even the founders of Silicon Valley Moms, are being paid.

Until now I've pretty much stayed out of the controversy over paid versus unpaid blogging. I can certainly sympathize with freelance writers who pay their rent with their words. This is what they do for a living. They are highly trained journalists and wonderful writers. If I accept an unpaid blogging "job" am I simply lowering the market price for the words of the professionals?

I know that a few bloggers, some who are freelance writers, have opted out of the syndication on the SV Moms blogs. I can completely understand that. The syndication has no value to them aside from gaining name recognition or resume building. If you already have that as a freelance writer, why give your words away for free to print publications that normally pay you?

So what do I get out of an unpaid syndication of my words? Name recognition? Maybe. Although I doubt that I'll be syndicated so regularly that people will start demanding my posts! An ego massage? Maybe. It is nice to see your words, your byline in actual cellulose and newsprint. Resume building? Definitely.

For those of us who write (as opposed to Write) for fun, therapy, or recognition, the idea of being a freelance writer or (gasp!) writing a book is heavenly. I've been saying since law school that I want to be a Writer when I grow up. Granted, my job already involves a lot of writing but it isn't writing that feeds my soul. Of course, there's no guarantee that free lance writing or even writing a book would do that either. Publishers will only pay for what sells. And who wants to pay to read my narcissistic rambles?

I don't pretend to know the answer to the paid versus unpaid blogging and writing debate. I do know that business models for mainstream media are changing because of the blogosphere. People are fleeing traditional media for the web and many of the providers of news and information on the web are doing it for free. With print publication budgets plummeting, is it any wonder that MSM wants to get in on the free stuff?

I got my first hits on my syndicated article a few weeks ago, via my automatic "Lawyer Mama" Google Alert, from the Centre Daily Times in Centre, Pennsylvania and the Modesto Bee in Modesto, California. I've gotten more since then, but I'm too lazy to link them all. So clearly there is a market for my sort of writing, just apparently not enough to pay me.

Whether this increases my blog traffic (So far, no, but it might help if I posted something here on occasion!), or enables me to add "professional writer" to my resume remains to be seen. Maybe I can even start calling myself a Writer with a capital W. All I know is that I think it's pretty cool. So if you happen to see me in print somewhere, for God's sake, cut it out and send it to me!

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Speaking of unpaid blogging, don't forget to read my review of Were You Raised by Wolves? over at Law(yer Mama) Review!


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7 Comments:

Blogger PunditMom said...

LM, you know this is a touchy subject for me.

It's not the paid vs. unpaid blogging that is the issue for me. We are all writers. Once we put our words out there, that's what we become, whether we're originally doing it for money or not.

When a newspaper or other publication can get content for free, then they won't pay anyone for it. Once it's syndicated into newspapers, it goes beyond blogging -- it's an article. And newspapers should be paying for that content. Maybe it wouldn't be much, because newspapers are notoriously bad payers.

As a freelance writer, if I pitch an essay to a newspaper, I get paid -- essays like the ones we write on our blogs. Why would they want to pay me now when they can get so much great content for free?

They should be paying everyone for their content, whether we label ourselves "writers" or "bloggers" or something else. 'Cause I want to do more writing and write books, too. But I can't do that unless someone pays me for some of my work.

Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

Congratulations. It is always nice to get some validation that you are a really good writer/Writer -- and you are definitely a writer, LM. A GOOD writer. You have a talent. Maybe you need another blog: WriterMama?

But I do see the validity of punditmom's comments. I use to be a Writer for a crappy small town newspaper and even I got paid for my efforts. I think the SV Moms got played. BIG time.

Blogger flutter said...

I have very specific opinions on this, none of which will fit in a comment box

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

C - I'd love to hear them. I have such conflicted feelings on this it's hard to even know where to start.

PM - I really do too. I'm really glad that the agreement is only for 1 year so that I can reassess whether it actually has been of any benefit to me.

AD - Thank you, you're too sweet.

Blogger Mayberry said...

As a professional writer and editor I agree with PunditMom. But the line is fuzzy. Does the syndication get you enough exposure that traffic on this blog increases, netting you more advertising revenue? Would that make it worth it? I just don't know.

And the CDT is my hometown/childhood rag!

Blogger Kyla said...

I think that in regards to blogging, it doesn't matter if it is paid or not...but once it moves to print media, there should be compensation or else they are getting something for nothing and like PunditMom said, they'll stop paying for it if they can get it for free.

Blogger CPA Mom said...

I'm going to have to agree with PM on this one - the first thought I had when I read you had been sydicated was "hot damn, someone recognized LM for her writing. It's about time because she is brilliant."

My second thought was "Why isn't she getting paid for it? she SHOULD be getting PAID FOR IT!"

that said, the book I was just published in, i wasn't paid a dime but I'm still thrilled beyond words.

Congratulations!

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