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Blogging for Dollars

© August 2006 Anthony Lawrence

Today I had email from someone looking to hire a technical blogger. I'm not interested - first, it would conflict a bit with this site, but more importantly I just don't play well with others, and am especially ornery and difficult if someone wants to pull my reins. But that's me, not you. You are a much more reasonable person.

The initial requirements were stated thusly:

I want to hire a US writer (or editor) for my tech blog, a person who will work full time for my blog and write all the content (news, reviews, etc).

I don't need a technical writer, I want a geek who can write, people like the ones at Gizmodo or Engadget.

OK, we know you are geekish, because why would you be reading this blog if not? And we certainly know that at least some of you can write, because we have quite a list of reader contributions.

So.. if you are interested, you need to contact Liz Strauss through her "lizsun2" address at gmail.com. She's not the one actually hiring, but is interfacing for the blogger who is.

But before you rush off to that, I'd like to solicit your opinion on how and how much one should be paid for such work. We all understand that it depends upon many factors (like how many hour's per day will this require), but in general terms, would you be willing to do it for a percentage of revenues? Strictly hourly? A mix? And what kind of money would it take to make you interested? A hundred an hour? Less? More? Would that depend on how much work was available - in other words, for an hours work a month you might want more per hour than if you could get fifteen or twenty? Would you expect to be paid for research time? What if you are already expert in a certain area? So many questions..

Got something to add? Send me email.

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Thu Aug 17 02:44:26 2006: 2402   BigDumbDinosaur

Today I had email from someone looking to hire a technical blogger. I'm not interested - first, it would conflict a bit with this site, but more importantly I just don't play well with others, and am especially ornery and difficult if someone wants to pull my reins. But that's me, not you. You are a much more reasonable person.

No I'm not! <Grin> You're much more reasonable than I am.

Joking aside, I wouldn't do this kind of job because, basically, it's boring. In years past, I did a LOT of technical writing, something which I have always considered druggery. If I'm going to have to type a lot I'm going to write software that I can use to make money.

Also, there's the little matter of being paid. Lessee...here you are in the USA beating on your keyboard, converting electrons into pithy prose, and the bloke controlling the cash is a 10 or 12 hour plane ride away. For some strange reason, the checks aren't showing up on time, if at all. Or, when you stop by the bank to deposit or cash them, the teller tells you to quit bugging her with that worthless paper. Just what do you intend to do about it? Hop on the next 747, paying the airfare with money you don't have, and go see Mr./Ms. Moneybags about those missing/bouncing checks? Doesn't sound at all like something on which I would want to depend to keep groceries in the pantry.

Thu Aug 17 10:46:59 2006: 2404   TonyLawrence

Whenever I've wondered whether someone will pay me, I simply ask for full payment in advance. Actually most of my business is done that way anyway, whether I think they won't pay me or not: I just like getting paid up front.

Sometimes someone will profess stunned amazement. "We can't pay for work that hasn't been done!". And I simply point out the obvious: "How can you expect me to do work that hasn't been paid for?". It's exactly the same thing, just inverted.

The idea of "work, then get paid" has been deeply ingrained in our culture by employers who want to limit their risk. Well, I like to limit my risks also.

Sometimes people will offer to meet me halfway - half the money up front. I won't do that just because it's annoying: I don't want the invoice half paid.

Oh, and this doesn't sound like "technical writing". It might not be boring at all.

Fri Aug 18 14:04:52 2006: 2410   dhart

If payment depends upon a specific outcome then it isn't journalism - it's advertising. Advertising which isn't obviously advertising is against FTC guidlines; "FTC Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials In Advertising""

Allow your attention to wander (heh) to §255.1(a) "Endorsements must always reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser. Furthermore, they may not contain any representations which would be deceptive, or could not be substantiated if made directly by the advertiser."

And in §255.5 "Disclosure of material connections" we read "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product which might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience) such connection must be fully disclosed."

Finally, in §255.3(a) "Expert endorsements" it says "Whenever an advertisement represents, directly or by implication, that the endorser is an expert with respect to the endorsement message, then the endorser's qualifications must in fact give him the expertise that he is represented as possessing with respect to the endorsement."

Clearly, when you report your experience with a product or a service your findings must be reproducable and not misleading, Paid blogging in the nature of a product or service endorsement must clearly indicate that you have been paid to do so and finally if your are represented as an expert (perhaps simply by reporting your experience with a product or service) then you really must be appropriately qualified.

In summary, don't blog if you are paid to produce only a favourable review. Indeed, if your blog is subject to review then your journalistic integrity is compromised.

(I do not claim any particular expertise in the interpretation of FTC guidlines nor journalism. I have not been paid to produce these comments. Actual results mat vary.)

Fri Aug 18 23:27:57 2006: 2416   BigDumbDinosaur

I especially liked the use of the §255.1(a) in the above. Looks very official. How did you manage to insert the § paragraph symbol?


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