Clay Shirky Debunks the WSJ's "Bloggers For Hire" Feature


29 Responses to “Clay Shirky Debunks the WSJ's "Bloggers For Hire" Feature”

  1. Moriarty says:

    Would it be overly rude to ask you fatcats what kind of revenue Boing Boing takes in?

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful crushing of idiocy. Thanks, Clay and Xeni!

  3. Big Ed Dunkel says:

    Naysayers. I’ve found a way to make money as a writer, paid steadily. You have to work for it. As somebody above said, “. .. nothing I’d do were it not something I loved”. Or even better, as the crippled Big Lebowski said, “My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous, April 30, 2009 2:17 PM

    Certainly you must “bring in even a fraction of $75k/year”. A small fraction is still a fraction..

  5. Anonymous says:

    whew. that’s a lot of words to say: “i believe the columnist confuses mean with median.”

    did you reach out to penn/zalesne for a response? i’d be interested if they ack their mistake or have a counterargument.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I bet that Cory, David, Mark and Xeni make a ‘living’ from their blogging, as long as you define ‘living’ as subsistence!

    However, other than them and a few very-high-profile others, it’s not enough to eat!

    The “weasel words” involved in this article are particularly telling — ‘primary income’ from blogging actually translates to unemployed. After all, if you’re flat broke, isn’t $10/week begging your primary income?

    Also, the tendency to present exceptional examples to protect the elite, and suppression of genuine mathematical analysis of population and economics, is breathtaking in both its oppression and brazen disregard of human needs. Notwithstanding, the MO of the American finance industry. (You know, those guys who got billions from taxpayers who lost their homes anyway?)

  7. Miss Cellania says:

    I make my living by blogging, but the $200 a year figure is about right for MY blog. In order to get by, I also work for FOUR other bigger sites. And I’m not getting rich by any means. I knew the article was BS, since even the people who pay me have other jobs.

  8. bklynchris says:

    Man, I love Clay Shirkey….the thinking person’s Malcom Gladwell (hope I did not insult Mr. Shirkey with the comparison).

    Mr/s. Moriarty, I too am interested, but would like to see that in a graph over time. What say you it is beginning to resemble a bell curve? No, jk ; P

    But so few of us are “unique” anymore.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have been a fairly prominent paid blogger; given its pay scale, I don’t see how I could have made more than about $15,000/year doing full-time work for the well-known company I wrote for. There are people doing better working behind the scenes, but not many of them, and they don’t usually do the actual blogging itself.

  10. chroma says:

    I know that it’s considered rude to ask, but it’s relevant in this case. How much do the Boing Boing bloggers make? Do guest bloggers get paid?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I have ~225k monthly uniques on a 2.5 year old blog with only me and 2 volunteer writers, and I can assure you, I don’t bring in even a fraction of $75k/year. If I did, I wouldn’t be blogging – I’d be paying my writers and taking fun trips.

    And yes, I have adsense, as well as several direct advertisers.

  12. m2key says:

    Any article with Mark Penn as author more appropriately belongs in the Wal-Mart Street Journal…..

  13. Ryan says:

    Also a writer and paid blogger here. I devote about 20 hours a week to my site, which in turn nets me about 20% of my yearly income, and that’s before taxes, so the actual profit is waaaaaay lower. It’s not a sweet deal financially, and nothing I’d do were it not something I loved.

  14. Rezpect says:

    I knew that this “2 Million Bloggers making a living from their blogs” report was total BS as soon as I read it. I write a pop culture and music blog that gets about 1,000 unique visitors a day, but it generates virtually zero income, even from those Google ads you see everywhere. And if Miss Cellania is chiming in that it’s BS then you have to believe her, because that lady is EVERYWHERE. I think that to really generate income as an “independent” blogger, you have to be selling a product of some kind and also be selling ads to vendors who pay you to blog about their items. The only blogger I know of who makes any kind of a living from his blog is Frank over at the OMG Blog, who has the Gay market niche down. Good for him.

  15. fxq says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Shirky’s screeds, but he could have saved a whole bunch o time if he just wrote:

    Mark Penn wrote something about blogs on the WSJ. Bwahahahahahahahah!

  16. Praline says:

    Ahh, ’tis a sweet and frabjous day when Boing Boing pwns the Journal. Thank you Xeni & Clay for so handily dispatching that steaming mound of humbug. I bask in the sublime sunshine of your truth….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Nice article. I’m a little saddened the editors at the WSJ didn’t raise a higher eye brown at this. It seems badly reported.

    I think there is a bigger issue here and that is the career path of the modern day journalist. Blogs that are businesses (like Engadget, etc.) and do hire full-time staff are hiring a constantly rotating stream of 20-somethings for low wages that are fine for just-out-of-college grads, but not for people entering their 30s and starting families, etc. The business model of media-outlets is turning journalism into hobby, not a sustainable career and I find that frightening.

    When I started out ten years ago as a writer I learned a great deal from older, more experienced writers. Now, the respect for that is diminishing—don’t get me started on the importance of the editor/writer relationship. I have watched these great people leave the industry one-by-one because media outlets both online and off do not want to pay them a livable wage (and, no, they are not expecting six-figure salaries). And I’m not talking about people in their twilight years here, I mean folks in their late 30s and 40s.

    But NOBODY seems to want to talk about this. Everyone’s head is in the sand. The New York Times just won a bunch of Pulitzers, but is going bankrupt at the same time. Meanwhile, blogs rip off their stories and practically take the credit. Who will they link to when the people actually leaving their house and doing real interviews not longer can stay in business? We cannot expect a quality flow of information in a world of only part-time journalists.

    I don’t mean to get down on blogs, I love them! I just worry about what their affect on what was once a real career.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this, seriously. As a professional writer who gets paid to blog occasionally and on the side, I laughed so hard when I read the WSJ piece that I almost peed my pants. Who are these people blogging full time, anyway? Aside from a few lucky and prestigious, much of the content out there (that folks are getting paid to write) is total junk.

    I’d rather blog for free than write what someone expects me to write.

  19. Brainspore says:

    Give it up, Xeni. We all know you’re secretly making millions in sweet BoingBoing cash. Did you really think we’d believe a “debunking” story posted by bloggers?

  20. Xeni Jardin says:

    Hey Brainspore, where I was I supposed to PayPal your hush money again?

  21. urshrew says:

    The newest threat to America, next to swine flu: Paid Bloggers.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Good Lord – so the WSJ basically allowed the authors of a book to create out of whole cloth the supposedly-lucrative “trend” their book is about? How is this any different from the Journal donating adspace to Penn and what’s-’is-face to hawk their wares?

    I think this sort of journalistic shenanigan is far more dangerous to the WSJ than to other newspapers, simply because the Journal’s insistence on maintaining a demonstrably-batshit editorial board for decades already calls their judgement and integrity into question. A few more “mistakes” like this, and people will realize that it isn’t just the banks on Wall Street that are an Enron waiting to happen.

  23. kkennedy says:

    Great response…but I can’t find a permanlink at…srsly! Am I just missing it? Perhaps a “latest” section (and a RSS feed for something other than “Here Comes Everybody”) would be a good idea…

  24. Soundscout says:

    As a blogger hoping to make a living out of it someday, that article made me heart sink.

  25. kkennedy says:

    Doh! I guess this page is permalink. *grin* OK, that works.

  26. Anonymous says:

    That’s the same Mark Penn managed the Clinton presidential campaign. We know how that one turned out.

  27. mamamel says:

    There are a lot of points of view written here on the forum. There are thousands of bloggers trying to make money online every day. I still think it is hard to say what the average income would work out to. Many people are learning that one of the only ways to make good money from blogging is by either having numerous blogs, or blogs promoting affiliate products/programs combined with article marketing.

    If you do a pay per post blogging job you can earn some money but nowhere near enough to buy a home or anything of the sort.

    I have a few blogs, a few info products for sale, and do pay per post blogging. All combined allows me to say I make a living online as a blogger but none of them on their own would support my family.

    As long as the new beginner does not think they will get rich, or have visions of quitting their day job within a year, they will not be disappointed.

    I would still encourage others to blog for cash if they choose, especially staying focused on topics of interest. There are many ways you can add to your original blog site to increase your monthly income chances. You never know how well things will go unless you try.

  28. voline says:

    Let them quit their day jobs to blog. Anyone who believes Mark Penn, deserves the consequences.

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