Why it’s perfectly OK to blog for free
Blogging for fun and profit – or, ideally, for both – is a victimless pursuit. But it is unethical to abet the exploitation of fellow journalists by working for publishers who pay nothing or something awfully close to it. Allow me to elaborate.
Writing a personal blog, though demanding if you take it seriously, is fun. It is a socially acceptable way to get things off your chest and cheaper than going to a shrink.
Blogging also can be profitable, if the blogger gets hired to teach, consult, speak, write articles or author a book. In the interests of full disclosure, I have done everything but publish a book. However, I am working on a book now and would be happy to hear from any potential publisher.
The point of blogging is that it is something you do for personal satisfaction and/or personal gain. In other words, it’s a lot like building birdhouses or baking cheesecakes.
If you build birdhouses, you can give one to a friend or try to sell some at a craft store (note the $75 price tag on the example above). But no one would hand a bunch of birdhouses to the local Home Depot so it could sell them and keep all the money. You might take a cheesecake to your church bake sale, but you wouldn’t wheel a rack of them into the Safeway and tell the manager to sell them and pocket the profits.
If a clear-thinking journalist would not donate birdhouses to Home Depot or cheesecakes to Safeway, why would she give her professional services for a pittance – or, worse, nothing – to an organization that was taking advantage of her to make money?
Some helpless-sounding people feel they have to give away their work to gain the “exposure” they hope will earn them paying gigs. I say that’s unethical, because it takes work away from journalists who not only want to get paid but – damn it – need to get paid. It’s just that simple.