Pay me for my content?!!!

Hi Writers,
If you’re trying to write for a living, I don’t need to tell you what a volatile industry writers are facing right now, with the Internet rising quickly as the dominant media force.

I’ll leave it up to Chad Gervich to fill you in on the nitty-gritty of the screenwriter’s strike—which has vast implications for all writers’ rights—on his Script Notes blog.

But on a separate but related note concerning writers’ rights, please read this Op-Ed from The New York Times Pay Me for My Content, by Jaron Lanier.

Lanier, one of the early Silicon Valley Internet pioneers, wrote the following:

Like so many in Silicon Valley in the 1990s, I thought the Web would increase business opportunities for writers and artists. Instead they have decreased. Most of the big names in the industry — Google, Facebook, MySpace and increasingly even Apple and Microsoft — are now in the business of assembling content from unpaid Internet users to sell advertising to other Internet users.

This is a brief, but really provocative (and potentially depressing) essay. Read it in full if you have the chance. The gist of the piece is that writers and artists really get (pardon the expression) screwed (he says it more politely than that) with the current model of the Web 2.0, because people now have the expectation that content (read: your writing) should be free.

Free content is a lovely ideal, as Lanier asserts, but who’s then paying writers for their work? Is it too late to re-make the system and ask people to charge for what they’re now, in many cases, getting for free?

Please leave your thoughts, concerns and crazy visionary ideas here.

Keep Writing,

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5 thoughts on “Pay me for my content?!!!

  1. The Writer Mama

    Here’s my crazy visionary idea:

    Writers must become entrepreneurs who leverage all of their talents, not just their writing abilities.

    I know gobs, gobs, gobs of talented writers. And I know a lot of talented writers who actually make money by writing.

    But, by far, the happiest people I know, are those who write and do other things too.

    Is it such a crazy idea that writers have to learn to do yet more things?

    I’m not so sure. We do an awful lot already. What’s a few more hundred things…a day? (wink)

    Long story short, and in case anybody missed the memo, you have to produce yourself. Start today, plan on continuing until the day you drop.

  2. Lori

    It’s true, Maria. There are sites lifting our copy and making it their own (oh, we get a nod, but not a link back). Worse, they’re earning Google AdSense money off the sweat of others. Jennifer at CatalystBlogger wrote about it today.

    My opinion? Internet work is no longer work we can afford to take on in most cases. I posted about it on my blog today:

  3. Jeff Yeager

    I’m baaaaack!

    It seems like this old Cheapskate’s opinion re: the downside of posting one’s original words on the web – regardless of format – might be getting some traction from more credible sources. No joke this time (since I some times get paid for those, particularly during strikes).

    Stay Cheap!
    -Jeff Yeager

  4. Georganna Hancock

    Plenty of people are making plenty of money placing content on the Internet. I’d never write web content for free when others, especially businesses, will pay me to do it. My blog is something different. I write it for my own pleasure, as proof that I’m dependable and reliable, and most of all, to help others. It also fronts my writing website and draws the search engines. Some of the visitors become editing clients. Other clients that I find can read about my background and career, even see samples of published work.

    Until recently the blog had an advertiser that paid all my Internet costs (even cable TV!)

    How is this not making money?

  5. ablogger

    Some of us get much recognition and are asked to review books etc–for content and a free book

    We’re asked to guest post and told how many lines to use and what to say. When we refuse, we’re told we’re not being a "good blogger."

    I have been asked to push many products. I’m not a product pusher.

    If we don’t exchange numerous emails each day and comment on 20 or more blogs, we’re not considered to be a true blogger and categorized as cold

    I was a Technorati A list blogger for over two years who purposely went under the radar as I’m in this for writing not for social networking

    I did get swept away by the excitement for the first year or so

    Bloggers have to respect bloggers who don’t want to play the blogging game. It takes much time and gives nothing but recognition. That is a nice thing but there are bills to be paid etc

    I used to believe that blogging could change the writing world in a good way–it was the first true meritocracy in publishing

    Now I see it as a entrenched system. The more blogs that come out of traditional media–the less room for grassroots bloggers to make a name is another problem

    You get paid. I don’t. The 60K+ google entries under my blog’s name mean nothing.

    Bloggers who are really writers but don’t come from mainstream media are being assaulted by all sides

    I choose to write not to continue making my name as a blogger because blogging brings "almost" good results

    Writers who blog, and achieve a "name" but no contract are truly being screwed because we do smell the success but don’t really taste it


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