Who said you could not make money blogging! The Bleacher Report sold for 175,000,000 dollars. This sports blog has made the biggest shock in the blogosphere since AOL bought the Huffington Post. Four friends, who met in middle school, started this site based out of San Francisco in 2005. Using a basic open platform, they translated 2,000 volunteer writers into 900 million-page views per month while becoming the third most viewed sports site. With just a couple of investors along the way, they were just awarded a gold medal, a Stanley Cup, and World Series Trophy by the Turner Network.
Did I mention they do not pay their writers? There is some news that they have hired 25 journalists. I guess they can hire whom they want now. But what about the writers, mostly slide show experts, who propelled them to a high profile technology company? Are the checks in the mail? I doubt if that will happen as B/R are not afraid to call their writers hobbyists. I am a contributor to the Bleacher Report and I guess in some small scale, I am part of this 175 million. I just gave my words and ideas away free.
I write often on the internet and I know it is about vanity. Writing always is. I seek riches in a way, but somehow this B/R sale feels like another exploitation of writers, who just continue to be raped and pillaged by technology and businesses on the internet. And guess what…we deserve it because we can’t help loving to write. A friend wrote on Face book that it is almost impossible for a writer to make a living by words. He questioned why he does it and whether it holds any social value. I wrote back and said it did.
After the B/R sale, I was wrong.
So what makes us get up, go to jobs, feed the kids and dog, and then sit down and try to write something coherent, if not profound. Does something that is free have any value? Most could not or would not write even if forced. Why do we keep doing this HOBBY?
1) Audience – The audience will always be a major factor that motivates a writer. The bigger the audience, the greater chance for your words to be read. As an entertainer or teacher, the size of the audience correlates to your popularity and power. B/R has increased their audience and writers go to where they will most likely be read.
2) Fame – All writers want to be read in the hope that their name will one day resonate with the greats of their writing field. I guess fame will always be the catalyst for proving talent, though fame today is for the notorious. Writers are purists. We believe we have a message and skill and want to be recognized. The more people who read your work are actual proof that you are becoming famous for writing: good or bad.
3) Craft – You write. You have a style. You have honed this desire to place words on paper, then on computer, then on tablet. You have read and listened and admired and envied writers for their gift. You have that gift and want to share it. You have a voice that is your own and you want others to know it. You love writing and words and ideas and the idea that change is possible because of your innate skill.
4) Passion – Your craft must have been praised. You built an audience. You even have a twitter following. But none of that matches your passion for doing the one thing that you think you were placed in the world to do. You love to write especially about a specific subject, be it sport, art, fiction, biography. You cannot keep your opinions to yourself because you are passionate and emotional. It is not a job. Time evaporates when you do it. And it makes you happy.
We can criticize ourselves for writing for free or for others getting rich on our words. But I do it for the four reasons. I do it every day because of those four reasons. And I will continue to do it. When I was young I heard the advice: do what you love because you will not work a day in your life. That was the worst knowledge to pass on. I have revised it: work every day of your life, so you can do what you love. I love to write and that is my treasure. The Bleacher Report can take the gold.
You can follow James Dugan on facebook and on Twitter @jamesduganlb. Purchase his new book through Amazon What Baseball Teaches: A Poetic Odyssey into 2008 Season of the World Champions Philadelphia Phillies