Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Fistful of Dollars

To plug, or not to plug: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outraged bloggers,
Or to take gifts against a sea of adverts,
And by opposing end them? To die: gift free.

Would Shakespeare have written that today, a wannabe screenwriter, reduced to mere blogging to practice his craft? Accepting gifts and bribes from the Corporate world, some relevant to him, most not. There’s a part of me that thinks he might, well especially before his independent art house film got picked up and bastardised by Hollywood anyway. I don’t know enough about Shakespeare the man, to know if he wrote for the love of writing, or to keep a roof over his head. You’ve got to hope that someone that wrote ‘Love is too young to know what conscience is,’ was doing it for more than mere trinkets and baubles. But a man’s got to eat, no?

I am in no way shape or form comparing myself to the great man, sometimes I have to stop and think if there’s an ‘e’ at the end of his name, but we all have aspirations to be published one day. I don’t know if writing something with the pure intention of selling a product, makes you a better or worse writer. Is there a skill involved in trying to hide the fact that you’re a corporate glove puppet whilst actually selling the product at the same time? Or is that just a white lie you tell yourself before you attempt to look in the writers’ mirror?

I guess we all have pieces of work that make us cringe when looking back on them, but does knowing someone gave you a new knife set for writing it make you feel better or worse? Maybe it depends on how you see yourself. Am I a writer that happens to write a Daddy blog, or am I a Daddy blogger? I guess if it’s the later then it’s OK to take whatever the Fat Cats want to throw at you. Parent blogging is seen as big business by those in the know, we’re relatively cheap to bribe, and everyone’s a winner. Who can’t do with more toys, nappies, wine tokens?

But what if you want to either be seen as, or become a serious writer? If I’m going to sell my soul to the Devil then surely I should demand something a bit more than new pots and pans. Surely a Pulitzer, or a Booker maybe, or heaven forbid a Best Original Screenplay Oscar would be better compensation. There’s a good chance I would sell my three children’s souls for those awards, well two of theirs anyway, I think one of them have made their own deal already.

Or am I doing us bloggers a disservice? Apparently we are the reason that the print media is in decline so we must have some power. Our content is free, often quick to produce, and has no overheads. We have no big shot owners or political flunkies to appease, we can write what we want and when we want it. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times, all of them carry adverts, does that make them less of a paper? The Huffington Post has some of the world’s best bloggers writing for them, but they still run adverts alongside the content.

Anyway, I’m just starting to ramble now. I created myself a soapbox then didn’t know what to say once I climbed on board. I apologise for the lack of humour in this post, it’s just that I nearly pressed ‘publish’ on a blog that contained the sentence ‘Luckily **** Stores, who have some amazing online stores where I can get everything from cookware to lights’, and it seems to have shaken all the laughter out of me. Normal smart arse service will be resumed soon I’m sure.


Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

I think we do blog for ourselves but there's a part of us (bigger in some of us than others) who would love someone to come along and shower us with publishing offers. We wouldn't get excited about comments and followers if we didn't long for some recognition.

I write about holidays (and other stuff) and was offered a freebie Eurocamp trip to review their services. Of course I jumped at the chance as it was relevant to me. I don't think it will lead me to be the Sunday Times travel correspondent but I have to start somewhere.

goonerjamie said...

Trish - I don't blame you, anyone saying no to that would have to be mad. You should have seen the garbage I wrote yesterday just to get some pans though, just glad I deleted it.

Gappy said...

This has been on my mind lately too.

I have an 'ad free blog' sign up in my side bar so I guess my feelings about advertising are fairly clear - I don't do plug posts or reviews and I'm not interested in reading them either. I don't have a view on what anyone else chooses to do on their own space but it is definitely not for me.

HOWEVER, I have been thinking lately about what I would do if I was offered something really good. You know like an all expenses paid trip to Alton Towers or something. Could I possibly face my children and say that I had turned it down because I was too busy poncing about on my moral high horse? I'm not sure that I could. I guess I'll just have to cross that bridge if I ever come to it (chance'd be a fine thing...)

Cate P said...

I think everyone starts to blog for themselves, some get lost along the way, some stay true to themselves.
Just don't end up with more analytics than you can shake a calculator at, or a blog that has more flashing lights than Vegas and more commercials than an X-Factor grand final.
And btw, you are a writer, fullstop.

Deer Baby said...

Very interesting - and topical. I have gone down the absolutely no reviews or freebies or giveaways route. Because I don't want to. You should have seen the faces on the PRs at cybermummy last weekend when they asked for my card and I said I didn't do reviews. But having said that, I should come clean and say I'm a journalist. And I do get sent free books, free stuff, press releases and things to review things a lot. Or I used to. Not so much anymore!!

I don't look down on anyone who does - that would be hypocritical of me - but I just think it wasn't something I wanted to do on my blog which is for personal writing. But I don't think the two are mutually exclusive at all.

goonerjamie said...

Gappy - I would be out of the door for Alton Towers, no question about it.

Cate - The cheque's in the post.

goonerjamie said...

Deer Baby - I think you're right, it just seems to be a very dodgy tightrope, I'm just scrambling back on.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

Interesting post and something I too am struggling with. I've been approached by a PR company but have yet to respond. I've also had a few companies/people who have asked to advertise on my blog, but I've felt their products were completely irrelevant to my blog so I politely refused.

I don't like reviews, I don't read them so why would I want to write them. However, as Gappy said you could be turning away something really good. So never say never.

I think on balance I'd rather carry a couple of relevant adverts than sell my soul to review something that I don't need or want. But if someone wants me to review a nice shiny new laptop then I'm your lady!

A lot of my favourite blogs carry reviews, I don't think any less of them, I just don't read the review.

God I'm waffling now...

jms said...

I've had a company write to me saying they like my blog, and would I like to review their products. I almost wrote back and asked "what's in it for me?", then I realized that they have also written to lots of the other bloggers I read, so they probably dont think my blog is that good, they are just looking for extremely cheap advertising. no thanks, I'll advertise myself and my own business (when I feel like it) and thats all - but I'll fight to the death to defend freedom of speech, so I really dont mind what others want to write, and if I find it offensive I wont read it.

goonerjamie said...

Very Bored - I could right do with a laptop, then you could write the review on it, good thinking.

jms - The only person I would judge for doing it is me, never anyone else. You are dead right about free speech.

Russ said...

Hey if someone is willing to pay you for doing something that you did for free, take it and run! Say, "thank you" first.

The best I've received so far is a new pair of pj's. Four years of blogging and all I have to show for it is a pair of pj's.

1950s Housewife said...

Wow, just advertise. Hell, for a free laptop I would tattoo 'Apple' on my toddlers forehead. (that is supposed to be a joke - but honestly, anyone want to give me a free macbook?)

Humdrum Mum said...

Interesting post, I personally don't like reading reviews and wouldn't review something myself - mostly because I am in marketing myself! But I would love to be asked...! I do blog for myself but love feedback (read comments). -HMx

goonerjamie said...

Russ - Jim Jams? I can just imagine trying to review them.

1950's - Think you will love my 'How to teach a new dog old tricks' blog judging by your name

Humdrum - Who doesn't love (nice) comments?

Hot Cross Mum said...

I think you should pimp yourself for everything you can get. We'll all be SO last year in a couple of years (kind of thing). Either that, or stay true to your craft and don't cheapen your artistic brilliance. Oh, I don't know.....

themommydaddy said...

Don't be too hard on yourself for wanting to make a buck. The ugly truth about a lot of famous writers that came from ivy league backgrounds in the past is that they lived off of trust funds or family money.

Half of the "Serious" actors and writers I know in Southern California don't have jobs because they are trust fund babies.

There is nothing bad about wanting to making a living.

Now, that said, your writing is really good so don't sell yourself. If it doesn't feel right to do it, don't sell yourself at all. If you compromise and feel bad about it your future writing will suffer. It'll be like you've committed writing adultery and you'll be keeping that secret from your future projects. I know it sounds weird but it's the truth.

goonerjamie said...

Hot Cross - Thaks hon, glad you've settled that then.

mommydaddy - cheers mate and you make some really good points

Heather said...

Goodness but it's a tricky thing huh? I think it's very easy to say you don't do or like them when no-one is offering you anything but once they start it's, well, money isn't it? and we could al do with a bit more of that.

On a personal level I rarely read reviews, only if it's something I'm genuinely interested in and tbh most of them aren't, but I couldn't give a rats bottom of you write them or not, as long as you also keep writing the good stuff and don't expect me to read the reviews :D

And you, my love, are a writer. End of.

goonerjamie said...

Heather - It does seem to be a tough juggle, and thanks for making me blush again