The Care and Feeding Of Writers

I am really finding it funny to read all the hoopla about paying writers. Pay per post model. Revenue sharing model. The noise has been happening for a while

Here’s what some of you future media moguls don’t know about writers:

Writers have always been at the bottom of the money-making totem pole in all industries. Screenwriters make squat while producers make millions. Same happens in the music (though it’s a little fairer),the television and book industry.

If you are having a problem getting or keeping writers and you think the problem is money then you really have a problem.

True Story.

Flashback 2004.

I am partners in a music marketing company. We mainly did backend work for the majors but I was hunkering for something different to do. I was totally enthralled with Denton and the Gawker concept.

I had an idea for a blog network but I had no writers. In fact, I thought I had a fantastic idea but like I said, no writers. So here’s what I did.

I got on Craigslist and put out a call to writers for my new blog network. I explained very little but what I was looking for. I set up an auto responder so people could get more info. I also included these 2 sentences at the end. You will not get paid for at least the first six months and after that we will negotiate a revenue sharing model.

I had over 600 responses who still wanted more info. After they got the full deal from the autoresponder I still got over 400 resumes and people who wanted to be involved. Some of the folks willing to write for free everyday for 6 months included a published author with a bestselling book in her genre, a reporter for ESPN and a retired US Army Colonel.

Now I had to cancel the project for personal reasons (see bio) but it taught me something.

I don’t want to get all Tom Peters on you but your project has got to be WOW. If your network can grab people by the lapels and make them stop and say, “How can I be a part of that?” then you are doing something right.

Flash Forward.

Be honest. If Denton approached one of your writers and said “I want you to edit this new blog idea I have but I can’t pay you for 6 months.” Do you think they will leave? (I know Denton, pays it’s just an example stickler!) They would probably hit you with an email on the way out.

Why?

 Because they know that they will be read. They will be cool. They will even be famous in a blog kind of way. They could tell there friends, with pride, that they are working for with a cool guy on some cool shit and it will look like Jesus on their resume.

You gotta give more than money. You can’t say, “…you want to work with us because we are designing a cool interface and have such & such server capacity.” Nobody. And I mean Nobody, gives a fuck about that. (Um, if design is so important how do you explain the success of Shiny Media?)

What you need to say is“…and you know what we’re going to put in the left hand corner of every page? Your picture. We’re gonna make you friggin’ famous so that when those 6 months are up you are gonna demand a large chunk of the biz or you’ll want to work for free because of all the money you are making in speaking engagements and endorsements!”

Writers spend years writing tomes which never see the light of (publishing) day. Most published book authors get little to no advances for their work. Do you think they spent years toiling for money? Please. They do it because they have to. They love it.

Your job, in managing a creative (biz speak!) is to see to it that the passion gets to the page. That passion on the page says more than the design, or the server capacity. It’s that passion which get you readers and profits.

So if a writer is crying about money then maybe you need to brush up your business plan.

LATER THIS WEEK

Are Ad-Networks Costing You Money?

Network Fix: Can This Network Be Saved?

Plus my normal daily coverage of blog media

(note: Monday is a holiday and there will be no new posts in honor of MLK)

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Army Of One, Bio, blog media, blog networks, cursing, design, Gawker Media, money, servers, shiny media, writers

4 Comments on “The Care and Feeding Of Writers”

  1. Andy Merrett Says:

    Hiya,

    I just started reading after you left a comment at BFN. I really like your writing style – direct, to the point, probably a lot of stuff I need to hear

    (I’m still gonna keep AdSense for a bit, though😉

    Interested to see how your site develops.

    Best regards

  2. chartreuse Says:

    Thanks for popping in.
    I appreciate it.

  3. Tim Stay Says:

    This post made us re-evaluate how we work with our authors and we decided we weren’t being “author centric” enough. We talked about it today and we know we have some work to do to better spotlight our writers.

  4. RoyT Says:

    Amazing Chartreuse, everytime I think this site can’t get better it does. Reading your experiences and from others helps tremendously. I have learned more in 2 weeks than I think I could in months from tiral and error.

    If you ever come to Las Vegas, let me know, you have a friend and a tour guide anytime.


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