Blissdom Wrap-up: Should You Write for Free?

Blissdom was fabulous! There is so much I could rave about. The crowd, 500 bloggers strong, was just the right size, the schedule was busy without feeling packed, the sessions were interesting and useful, the sponsors were appreciated and set up in such a way that attendees didn't feel like we were in a massive trade show. And the women- such an inspiring and talented group! For details and links, I'm going to send you over to Christine Koh's thoughtful and thought-provoking blog for the Biggest Blissdom Link Love Lovefest Ever.

If you've never been to a blogging conference, one of the smaller events like Blissdom, Evo, TypeAMom or Blogalicious is the way to go. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will make more connections than at the larger events. Paradoxical perhaps, but true.

{stepping off soap box}

One thing that stands out in my mind was a whispered conversation (or five) on a topic that was not addressed in any of the panels I attended- should bloggers write for free?

This was touched upon somewhat in my session with the fabulous Alli Worthington, Barbara Jones, Audrey McClelland and Nancy Smith in which we discussed earned media (such as writing unpaid product reviews) vs. paid media (running ads or sponsored posts).

I believe it was Alli who spoke up to say that even though you write free content for your blog, a corporation should not be reposting it on their website without compensation.

But what if a blogger contributes to sites like Alli's own Blissfully Domestic, or TypeAMom or powerhouse Silicon Valley Moms Blog Group? Sites that have large audiences and run advertisements? Should you contribute to those kind of sites for free?

Only you can answer that question.

{stepping back on soap box}

In many cases, though, I say yes, you should.

First off, keep in mind that the hosts of those sites are likely not striking it rich just yet (and quite possibly never will). And even if the site owners do seem to be rolling in money now, well here's what my husband likes to remind me in regard to my consulting, "If you take into account the thousands of hours you've spent online in the last 5 years, you're billing rate is under $10 an hour."

{No, he's not nearly as jerky as he sounds.}

It generally takes a lot of sweat equity to build a successful site. But enough about the site hosts, what about you?

I mean, what about me?

I've been a volunteer contributor to the Chicago Moms Blog since it launched in 2007. Joining that blog not only introduced me to a wonderful group of local bloggers, but it instantly connected me to dozens (now hundreds) of other mombloggers. One of those bloggers hired me for a problogging position which later brought me to a consulting gig, another sent me on my first blogger junket which also led to other great experiences, and yet another might be publishing on of my essays in her forthcoming book. Hell, I went to Club Med because of a post at Chicago Moms Blog.

On top of that, I've developed lasting friendships, both personal and professional.

I'm just a click away from great advice, both personal and professional.

I've built my platform and reached a heck of a lot more readers than I would have at my blog alone.

Honestly, since I have more demands on my time, I debate my continued involvement, but for now I'm staying. I still reap something from the effort I put in and I feel little is asked of me in return.

If only more of life worked that way.

It often doesn't.

In fact, if you're not in a win-win situation, then you are most certainly the one on the losing end of the deal. If you don't feel valued, or, even worse, feel you are being taken advantage of because of your willingness to provide free content, stop doing it.

{stepping down again and tucking my soapbox under my bed}
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