Empire Built On The Backs Of Citizen Bloggers?

The Huffington Post was sold for $300 something million to AOL. Amazing, congratulations! I’ve been reading that several bloggers have been crying and staging Twitter hashtag protest as they feel betrayed.

The Huffington Post ecosystem features a wide range of citizen bloggers – people who are just writing for them but not getting paid for it. These unpaid bloggers now feel that The Huffington Post has sold out on them and cashed in on their work.

I guess in some ways that may be true and I may have felt in the same way in case I was writing for them, but now it is up to the bloggers to take the next step: stay and crank free copy for a large corporation or move on.

I am not sure about the motivation for bloggers to write for another site for free in the first place (except guest blogging as a mean of promotion of course) but check out the quote from the The New York Times:

“The technology of a lot of these sites is very seductive, and it lulls you into contributing. We are being played for suckers to feed the beast, to create content that ends up creating value for others. The land many live on is owned by someone else, be it Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, or some other service that offers up free land and the content provided by the renter of that land essentially becomes owned by the platform that owns the land.”

If you want to own the land and be the master of your own content you must have your own platform. This usually means a domain name, a hosting account and for bloggers a WordPress software installed. This means that you own everything you publish on that site and you have the full control. You can always use social media or other blogs to build a name for yourself and drive traffic back to your own site, but always make sure you own the land somewhere which you are in total control of. If you don’t do this you will always be dependent on other people and other sites and you will always need to be on the lookout and fear the changes they might be making.

It has happened many times that a company would shut down and all your content, your audience and your platform would be lost. It has also happened many times that companies change their policy and suddenly you and the type of content you are creating is not welcomed anymore. It all just shows you the importance of owning your own channels, your own platforms and your own audience. It is your responsibility to have this under control as nobody else will. Only you have the best interest in your own career, in your own audience. Other people care about their own priorities and projects, and if they can do something to improve them they would do it no matter how that affects you and your projects. Always keep that in mind and make sure to own your work.

Image by Reinante.