Just a quick note that I will be in Chicago for the second time in my life on March 13, talking about blogging, literary fame, and the new play Sex with Strangers with author and blogger Claire Zulkey at Steppenwolf. If you’re a Chicago-based Emily Magazine reader, do stop by! It’s only $5, which I guess is probably $10 in Chicago money but still.
The second quick note is that on 2/17/2011 I decided not to use Tumblr or Twitter or blog (obviously this right now doesn’t count) until I finish a draft of the book I’m working on. “Putting all my emotional content behind a paywall. Trying to find a business model that works,” as Colson Whitehead once tweeted. The first week was horrible but it’s getting easier. I have been baking a lot. And then sending photos of the baked goods to friends and relatives. Let me know if you would like to receive photographs of baked goods via email!
The third thing is, here is part of my response to my friend Rachel who recently started a great blog called Quaint as Fuck and wanted help figuring out how to write a column about the same topic for free for a larger site. It is somewhat of a reversal from my earlier stance re: Writing For Free so I thought I would post it here:
“I don’t think you should write or make stuff for free for popular sites that pay their owners, parent companies, and some or all of their regular contributors, even though it’s a good way to get people to read your blog and become familiar with your name. I totally understand why doing this appeals to people who are blogging and making stuff purely for the thrill of having someone read and see said stuff. But the problem with that approach is: it leads nowhere.
People who read your stuff at the big site that used your content for free will continue to read that big site — and maybe also your blog, but maybe not. Meanwhile, people who write on- and off-line for a living will continue to have an increasingly hard time making money because of the huge numbers of people who are willing to “syndicate” their content to bigger sites in exchange for cachet. Cachet is great, but it does not rule everything around me (unfortunately!)
Luckily, there are still ethical ways to get attention for your awesome blog. You can get one of those big blogs to link to it, directing readers to your site, where it is still 100% ok to do whatever the hell you want for free because you have total control of what goes there and how much time you spend doing it and it is a wonderful art-place that exists outside of commerce. Or you can get one of those big blogs to pay you for something you are doing elsewhere for free — with the understanding that this will probably mean reshaping it slightly to suit their editorial voice and standards.”
For a more concise version of that rant you can of course consult Jessica Hische’s perfect “should I work for free” flowchart. And if you want to hear more of my slightly informed, evolving and occasionally contradictory views about blogging, you can come see me in Chicago!