Prolific blogger Cape Town Girl has come out with a post about how you should start charging for content on your site. Her argument is summed up in one sentence:
The short answer is: start charging.
I must applaud CTG for her stance on this. For too long bloggers have been taken advantage of, excited by the free “stuff” that PR companies fob on them. As a blogger if you receive said “free stuff” you’re considered to have “made it” and are someone worth listening to. PR people call you “influential”. Sadly, free stuff doesn’t pay the bills and you can only eat so many canapés at the latest launch event. Charging for space on your blog makes sense; you’ve got an audience so make some money hawking stuff to them.
There is one problem that I don’t think CTG has considered: she looks like a brand whore pedalling other people’s crap. This quote by Mad Men’s Don Draper pretty much hits the mark on what I’m talking about:
“What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”
To illustrate my point I’ve childishly cribbed from CTG’s Instagram stream. This a real picture, I have in no way modified it (except maybe for the writing in red):
You don’t go around telling people how much money you made last month (unless you’re nouveau riche, which in that case how is the Range Rover Evoque treating you?) and you really shouldn’t go around telling people you can be bought. I’m not naive enough to talk about integrity, morals and ethics but I can tell you it’s bad business to only do things for a profit. I have no idea if “Bread Milk & Forgot a comma” paid for that that image and even if they didn’t, I’ll avoid it like the plague from now on.
You know those annoying 30-minute fillers on TV where a family of four talk about how much they love Maggie Two Minute Noodles? Everyone knows that’s an advertorial and the same goes for magazines, newspapers or radio. Anyone with more than two IQ points knows that the moment you’re basically putting a rate card on your blog the content becomes bumpf and insincere. Charging for your work is great, making yourself look like a gigantic billboard is really silly. As someone who has worked in real online publishing I’ll give you a tip: begging is probably more lucrative.
Charge for your blog so you can make enough money to buy everyone at &Union a round of Weiss beer but don’t be so ignorantly blunt about it.