When the digital economy means working for free

“Governments play up the idea that a digital future creates jobs rather than eats them up. Culturally, there is now a fantasy world of start-ups and blogs and YouTube TV where a very few people manage to make money but most work simply for ‘experience’,” writes Suzanne Moore in today’s Guardian.

This struck a chord with me. A friend asked me recently whether they should work for the Huffington Post as a blogger – and I said I wouldn’t – they don’t pay and you are working for free. But they wanted the experience…Difficult one. Get the experience, move on quickly to paid work, perhaps? But then Moore warns darkly:

“It’s only a matter of time before we are all asked to work for free.”

And her post is under the web headline “Comment is free” on the Guardian site…

Her article also made me wonder whether bloggers generally think it’s worth it – blogging for free, hoping to promote their book, photography, cartoons, art and so on. Is engaging with social media worth the time and effort in the long run? We partly got the gig at the Broadway Theatre in London last year because of this blog and our engagement with social media. But we didn’t make any money – few people seem to in theatre, darling!

For me it was worth it – just for the enjoyment and writing about anything that takes my fancy.

How about you? Is blogging worth it? Are you hoping to sell your books etc? If you have sold anything, did the sums add up? Or were you still below minimum wage?



June 6, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Blogging, Humour, Publishing, Theatre, Writing.


  1. jbw0123 replied:

    If you’re in it for the money, blogging is like buying a lottery ticket, especially if you’re doing it to sell your writing. Does that stop me? No.

    What I wonder about is the wealth of free time that blogging represents. I suspect that most bloggers are not making money, so, gazillions of people have time to write for free. Where is all this time coming from? Would we be better off volunteering in hospitals, or throwing parties or napping? What is it about focusing so much of our brain power on putting ideas out there?

    I like to think that this feverish soup of words pouring into the Internet might be contributing to something bigger, something evolutionary. Then again, it might just be self-delusion. Fun though.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I like the evolutionary thought – so long as it doesn’t turn out to be Terminater…

  2. colonialist replied:

    Food for thought, indeed. As a means of getting in touch with all sorts of interesting people blogging works well. It also gives ideas of how to take projects in writing, art, photography or music further. As a means of actual promotion or generating income, though, it seems to have very limited effectiveness.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Limited effectiveness…mmmm, think I’m beginning to agree with this. But I like the idea of being in touch with interesting people too.

  3. Aewl replied:

    Reblogged this on Aewl's Abode and commented:
    I’m in negative numbers here as far as blogging, but maybe somewhere down the road it may pay off in unexpected ways. Read the entire post. It may make you think and re-evaluate your blogging.

  4. Mark replied:

    Trouble with blogging is that takes time; at least an hour or so to do a decent job. If you’re trying to fit that in with a regular job, creative writing and all the other chores in life it squeezes you a little harder.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Yes, quite agree…tend to end up “doing it” in the small hours…blogging, that is.

  5. jmmcdowell replied:

    I started blogging because that’s what all the writing advice says we’re supposed to do if we want to “build a platform” and have a shot at traditional publishing deals. And it’s a way for those taking the indie route to build an audience, too.

    Now, I really do it first for the interaction with a core group of blog buddies, who have become friends. Will I ever make money from it? Will it help sell my books if they’re ever ready to publish? I’m not really sure. But as long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll keep at it.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Yes, enjoyment seems key. But then perhaps selling books is too when the time comes…

  6. Maddie Cochere replied:

    I started blogging for me personally. I wanted to chronicle my writing journey. I never thought of blogging for money. The entire experience has been good for me. I’ve learned quite a bit from other writers, and several of my followers have gone on to read all of my books. I’d say blogging is worth it for me.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Thanks for sharing what you got/get out of it. Enjoying the experience is just as important as people reading your books!

  7. Jay replied:

    It’s worth it if you enjoy it … and it’s certainly worth if for anyone who enjoys reading your blog! Look forward to more ….

  8. kateshrewsday replied:

    What a great post. This recession has ushered in an ‘intern culture’ – meaning those who can afford to write or work in the arts for free are able to, and those who can’t are excluded. I abhor that. And yet, I spoke to a friend lit up because she had taken part in a film shoot on which no-one got paid – because everyone there is passionate about independent British film; and I write daily, not just because I want recognition- of course, don’t we all? – but because writing fulfils a daily release, an outlet of creativity that nothing else can for me. Emily Dickenson never saw renown, she just wrote quietly. And so we all write and create, because it’s what people have always done in some form or other.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Thanks for your kind words. And I like your reply – especially the bit about people having always created or written in some form or other. Great stuff.

  9. SidevieW replied:

    blogging is abut just writing. when I want to bepaid I don’t put that content on a free portal

  10. Chris Edgar replied:

    Thanks — this is definitely thought-provoking. I’ve never done creative work for the money, and it’s also true that I have other activities I do that give me a comfortable living and facilitate my creativity, and that my dream is to do nothing but create. If that dream isn’t realizable, at least I’ll have striven for it.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I think a lot of us have to support our creative endeavours with actual paid work! And I agree – it’s better to have tried (or striven) than never to have tried at all.

  11. The Laughing Housewife replied:

    It depends why you do it. It is worth it to me, but I started the blog just to have a writing outlet that might get a response. Now I have a whole host of readers, many of whom have become friends – virtual and real.

    If I manage to get my first collection published – or if I self-publish – I have a ready-made platform to help promotion. That’s a bonus, however; I would blog anyway.

  12. Let's CUT the Crap! replied:

    Thank you for the follow. Interesting place you have here.

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