It’s no news that big print media considers new media a kind of onslaught, as though traditional print is the once-lustrous orchard, and bloggers and other independents are each a locust, which, one-at-a-time, are not normally threatening, but jillions of them at once is a different story.
Guest blogger Hollis Gillespie is a humor writer
and columnist for Atlanta magazine. She is also an
NPR commentator and guest on "The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno." Her blog is titled Inappropriate
Conversation. Her third book, Trailer Trashed: My
Dubious Attempts at Upward Mobility, was just
released. She is also the founder of the Shocking
Real-Life Media Continuing Education Academy,
which hosts writing, blogging and new-media workshops.
WRITERS HAVE THE POWER
But the plight of print media does not equal your plight. Because here is the fact: Writers have all the power now. They aren’t waiting to be deemed worthy of a platform by the Big Prints. Instead they are creating their own platforms by blogging, and because of that, advertisers have recognized a grassroots means to reach a massive audience by partnering directly with the writer. In short, advertisers have figured out a way to cut out the middleman. This is problematic for traditional media but not necessarily for you.
In fact, it’s a good thing for many writers, especially those who are still trying to make their mark. Because now you are able to plant your own sapling with a much better chance of seeing it grow. Because now the ground is level, and it’s fertile. Right now is when you need to plant your own tree, and I am talking directly to all of the out-of-work traditional-print writers out there who are wasting time bloviating about how no one’s paying them anymore.
BUILD YOUR IDEA
You need to build your boat right now, and, to do that, you need the basic equipment to compete in the new playing field. I am not even talking about equipment that costs money, I mean resources that are free. You simply need to learn to use them. What you need, in short, is a simple media rehab, the very basics of which consist of these components; a blog, an affiliate marketing account, Twitter and Facebook.
All of these are free to start and maintain. In the most elementary terms, it works like this: Your Twitter and Facebook accounts feed traffic to your blog, this traffic buys products advertised there and you receive a check for a percentage of those purchases. It’s no different from when you worked at a newspaper or magazine, except for all the difference in the world in that you are now your own publisher, and your income is directly related to the volume of the audience you are able to attract. This is freedom, people. Your product—your voice, your expression, your ability to write it—that hasn’t changed at all. That is still exactly where you left it, and there are still droves of people hungry to connect with it. What has changed is that Big Print can’t pay you for it anymore, so they are either taking away their platform or asking you to do it for free (now a depressingly common occurrence for writers).
THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE YOU
Enter your blog. Examples like peopleofwalmart.com should be very encouraging to you. This blog reportedly began garnering $1,000/day in revenue only three months after its inception. Another example is this brand-new twitter account that landed a TV deal just months after its inception, and a novice blog called regretsy.com that landed a book deal almost immediately after the first few posts hit the web. All of these blogs were started by people no different from you; people dealing with downsized income because of the economy so they created their own platforms to showcase their expression and the world responded.
IT'S A NEW WORLD
Writers, you have to stop kicking that dead horse hoping it will cough up another paycheck. And stop worrying about the travails of traditional media. History has proven that whenever a new media is introduced, it weeds out the weaker of the old media, but it doesn’t destroy it altogether. Radio didn’t destroy newspapers. Television didn’t destroy radio. And the internet won’t destroy all of the above. Just because some big trees in the orchard are dying, and making a lot of noise about it, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing for you as a writer, even if you are one of the leaves that used to be attached to them.
Remember, you are the one with the power. Set up your own online platform and get your money directly from the advertisers who used to pay your former employer who, in turn, used to toss you your check. You are on your own now. Now is not the time to freak out or listen to the deafening (and often false) wailings of the dying meglomedia. You are not a leaf on a dying tree. You are a seed that has been set free.