Episode 27: On this episode we’re talking about why Wil Wheaton does not want you working for free.
If you follow Thinking Outside The Sandbox Facebook you probably know what I’m talking about. Wil Wheaton was on Star Trek as Wesley crusher, and more recently, on Big Bang Theory. He has a blog, like most of us do. He wrote a blog called “Seven Things I did to Reboot My Life.” The Huffington Post, a big mecca blog which brings in posts from all different sources and host them under one banner, said the post he wrote was something they’d love to include on their platform to share with more people.
Wil asked what the compensation was for them reposting his blog. Huffington Post replied back with “Unfortunately, we’re unable to financially compensate our blogs at this time. Most bloggers find value in the unique platform and reach our site provides. We completely understand if that makes blogging with us impossible”.
Wil then went on Twitter and broke it down for everyone in the twitter post below:
HuffPost: We’d like to publish a story you wrote! Me: Cool! What do you pay? HP: Oh, we can’t afford to pay, but EXPOSURE! Me: How about no.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) October 27, 2015
Of course, this became a very popular post in my circles. The discussion of “should you be working for exposure” came about. The Oatmeal had something very similar happen to it the next day. They had a very popular post called “Having a Cat vs. Having a Baby.” The Huffington Post UK hotlinked their pictures without even asking for permission. Hotlinking is where you take the URL image code and just put it on wherever you want. The benefit of this is whoever is hosting the image still needs to hosted. It’s not an issue on smaller blogs, but if you run a large blog with lots of visitors these server costs add up. This means whoever created it is stuck with the bill, with none of the benefits. The Huffington Post was benefiting and The Oatmeal wasn’t getting anything back. What the owner of The Oatmeal did was pretty genius, in my opinion. They changed the pictures, without changing the link. This means that if you went to the Huffington Post to see that article, the image now showed a new image (see image below).
He did that with all the images (there were quite a few) and at the bottom he drew ones that were not very appropriate (male genitalia and what not). Huffington Post realized they had this on their site and put a “sorry, not sorry” type of apology on their site. The Oatmeal then created a comic about it (see the comic here)!
This was a few weeks ago, but I’m sure you’ll hear even more about these incidences. The debate of whether or not to work for exposure has been an age old topic in the world of blogging. The benefit of this is that they are able to have more people see their work and they can get their name out there. For bloggers like Wil Wheaton or The Oatmeal, who are already well established and have a nice amount of followers… you aren’t trying to prove to new followers who you are. For us that aren’t at that mega level, having huge publications publish our work provides social proof. It says “If they thought I was good enough, you should to.” I’m not telling you whether or not to work for exposure. You’re the boss. You can choose what you want to do. I find it a bit problematic, however, to have people like Wil Wheaton and The Oatmeal tell us not to work for exposure. Using my beloved baseball analogies, they’re in the major leagues. My little county slow pitch mixed league doesn’t get the same sponsorship and such. Lots of people say “don’t work for free,” but I don’t know many people who actually work for free. Exposure is a form of compensation. It may not pay your bills and it probably won’t directly lead to something that will. However, if you have something you’ve done on a site like Buzzfeed, for example, that is exposure! You’re giving Buzzfeed content, but when people go on that site when they click through, you get the benefit of getting the traffic to your site. Buzzfeed will always get more traffic because they’re the ones hosting it, but you will still get some traffic nevertheless.
Whenever you do something for your blog, always think “How am I being compensated for it?” I even think this when my writers and I write on our site. They are paid and I would like their time to be spend doing things that are most beneficial to the site. Most of them are bloggers, as well, so we want to make sure they can gain exposure to their sites too. This is why we have a prominent author box, and also provide links to our own writer’s sites when appropriate. A lot of them have come to me for questions on how to improve things on their blog. Those are types of payments we offer that aren’t dollar bills. We pay dollar bills plus, but that doesn’t always happen.
When it comes to unpaid reviews, many bloggers say it’s working for free and don’t do it. Receiving a product is a form of payment. You may decide that you need money to pay your bills instead, and receiving the product isn’t worth it to you. That’s okay. You’re the boss, and you decide what’s best for your site. Having all of these bloggers say “Don’t work for free,” that’s not always the whole story.
My last thought is that sometimes you might get pitched with something that says, “Hey, here’s high res images.” A PR company might say, “Here are some pictures… would you like to post these photos and promote these for us?” You have to decide if you want to do it. There is something that can be said about building a relationship, and portfolio with a company. Unfortunately, not all bloggers are great bloggers. This means the ones of us who are really good at what we do have to work that much harder to prove ourselves.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this! Be sure to chime in on the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media!
That’s it for today. Until next time, thanks for listening to the Sandbox to Success podcast, with your host: Katrina M. Thom. If you like what you just heard, leave us a message at iTunes or Stitcher. We would also love to hear what you have to say. Use the hashtag #totspodcast to connect with us on twitter. Don’t forget to check out the show notes, which can be found at www.totsbusiness.com. Join us next time for another edition of the Sandbox to Success podcast. Have an AWESOME day!