FreedomWorks, a Tea Party affiliated group, recently announced to their stable of paid bloggers that they would be shifting over to an “unpaid contributor model,” and that all contracts made with the group would be terminated in 30 days.
The Daily Caller put it much more succinctly:
FreedomWorks is dumping all its bloggers.
As a blogger for FreedomWorks, I will not sit here and bash the organization for their decision. It is a legal business move that they have the right to exercise.
But I would like to address my own personal history in blogging for numerous conservative organizations over the last decade. That history seems to indicate that there are too many organizations on the right side of the aisle that, like Juan Williams once famously declared, view what we do as being “just a blogger.”
I’m under no delusions that what I do is all that impactful. I write for several groups and I have my own blog here that covers conservative issues in New York state. But in the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve encountered way too many people on the right that are the antithesis of what one would hope for in a business partner.
I spent the first few years blogging for nothing because of what I believed in. Like many conservative writers, it has to be balanced out with working a full time job and being a parent to your kids. Like many other writers also, I’ve had to deal with some extraordinarily difficult circumstances over the years. Yet, through those circumstances, we as writers soldiered on.
That said, here’s a quick rundown of things I’ve encountered during this time…
- I spent the first few years consistently hearing the phrase “We love your work but can’t afford to pay you. You’re welcome to contribute for free.”
- I had written for one media site for a couple of years before I was even made aware that they offered payment to other bloggers on the same level.
- Was sent to one site that had a paid blogging program. Wrote one blog, and was told they could no longer pay because the program was being disbanded.
- Have encountered networks that promised ad revenue and traffic increases only to watch them royally screw over this site.
- Had one place very popular news site that I’d written opinion pieces for a couple of years, suddenly tell me they weren’t aware that I had written for them in the past. How somebody could make such a statement knowing the site has archived their articles is baffling.
- Another I collaborated with on several investigative projects, was told there’d be more work, and then had the Editor stop answering my messages. He didn’t send me a message saying “We’re done working together.” He stopped answering e-mails and phone calls. This is the equivalent of closing the blinds and turning down the television when a Jehovah’s witness stops at your house.
Now, I either really suck at what I do (which is entirely possible), I happen to have an incredible string of bad luck, or these are normal practices in our business. The sad part is, I lean to the latter. This has probably happened to a lot of conservative writers. Repeatedly.
I probably spend 3 or 4 nights per week working until 2 or 3 in the morning, because I don’t start until after my kids fall asleep. Family always comes first. The lack of sleep and stress to meet deadlines is unhealthy and it’s difficult. I’ve kept at it because there was always the hope that it would pay off somewhere down the line, perhaps even with a job.
When you are consistently disrespected however, you start asking yourself some difficult questions. Is this worth it? What is my motivation?
Am I just a blogger?
I recently was given a question about what I expect from doing what I do as a conservative blogger. My answer would emphatically be, I want respect. I don’t want to be viewed as “just a blogger” any longer.
When somebody has bad news that affects me personally, I would expect a phone call or an e-mail to discuss it. I want to be given the truth, and an indication that the person I have been producing content for will help me work through it in any way they might be able to. Even if that means to just be honest.
That is respect.
Telling people you’re terminating their one-year contract just a few months after it began, and then telling them they’re still welcome to contribute to the unpaid model is the opposite.
And it’s way too prevalent on the right side of the blogosphere.
I bring these things up to better explain how people are made to feel when these things happen time and time again, year after year.
And I bring them up because people that work their ass off under difficult circumstances, for little reward simply because they love their country, should never be viewed as “just a blogger” on the conservative side again.