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Thursday, December 02, 2004
 
Who Takes The Pay-For-Blogging Bait?
So, today was the second day of my three month contract with Marqui, which will get me some nice funding for this little blog of mine. More details on the program are here, and you can read the contract here (so you know its on the up-and-up). I've been talking to some people, wanting to see what the reaction to this whole thing would be, and there's no consensus, but three opinions stand out. The first is that this is selling out. No one's said it my way, but I've noticed it, and I gotta say this: Only rock bands sell out. Journalists are supposed to make their money from ads. The second point is that this all comes down to trust. If you can trust me to be objective, it doesn't matter that I'm being paid, so long as you know I'm being honest. I've never shilled for anyone (except Findory :D) and since the contract doesn't require me to, I signed it.

I'd like to make this dialouge as useful as possible, so if you have any experience in the CMS arena, comment or IM me, so I can get into that. If this becomes an opportunity to discuss an area of the net, with simply an assurance I put Marqui into the conversation, it'll prove quite informative. I don't want to be stuck writing about press releases. Lets have some fun with this!

For the moment, I thought I'd look at my fellow bloggers and note what they're saying.

Meet the folks we're paying to blog about Marqui - Marqui Communication Management System

Marc Canter (blog)
the head lemur (Allen Herrel) (blog)
Jonathan Abad (blog)
Nathan Weinberg (blog)
Molly E. Holzschlag (blog)
DL Byron (blog)
Lucas Gonze (blog)
Mitch Ratcliffe (blog)
Paolo Valdemarin (blog)
Jon Lebkowsky (blog)
Susan E. Kaup (blog)
Richard Murray (blog)
Richard MacManus (blog)
Robin Good (blog)
Eric Rice (blog)
Peter Caputa IV (blog)

Marc Canter has been the guy who arranged the whole ad campaign, so he's been talking about this the most. One point he makes is that, at $800 a month for one mention a week, it's "$200 per post". I disagree. If I want to do a half-assed job, fine, I'll put 20 minutes a week in. However, if I want to put some real work in and make this a value not just for my wallet, but for my readers, this has to have more effort than a simplistic $200 a post. Also, want to know how this got started, Marc explains:
Anyway - so I was sitting there one day in August when they asked "how can we get into the blogosphere."
At that point I had heard that request like a 1,000 times. So I looked around the room and said "what the hell, let me give it a shot".
What was the most outrageous idea I could throw at them?
"Pay Bloggers to Blog"
and they went for it!
Not exactly an evil plot to discredit the blogosphere...

Despite the link in the official list, Alan Herrell, the head lemur, is actually blogging for Marqui over here. He's already jumped into things and begun testing the hell out of it, to the point of already finding what appears to be a bug, although it is simply a popup blocker conflict (god, these days it seems so many sites have these conflicts. I lost my net connection for five hours Tuesday because of one.). His strategy? Use the product "the point of breaking it" and write about his experiences. Sounds like an excellent plan to me. (Wonder if he's related to the other lemur I know...)

Jon Abad makes this point: Marqui isn't even paying bloggers for their opinons or good ideas. "Those are free". Marqui pays to point our eyes in their direction, and to get their name mentioned. The reason this will work better than that is because once a blogger sees something, most bloggers will comment on it no matter what. You can't compromise your credibility when you are volunteering it. I'm not being paid for my opinion, but you're gonna get it anyway.

Nathan Weinberg? Who's that guy?

Molly Holzschlag is posting about Marqui under a "Blog Slut" category. Damn, I wish I could categorize my posts. Freakin' Blogger.

DL Byron says:
We don’t plan on posting just to plug Marqui. We do plan on putting it in context of what we talk about and evangelize. As the program process, we’ll also offer metrics on how it’s working.

Lucas Gonze describes Marqui's motives as simply trying to get into the conversational flow. That makes good sense to me. He also says "My motives are complicated". He's not sure if he's motivated by the fact that it is simply a good offer, or by the fact that he needs some extra money to cover storm damage expenses for his wife. I hear that. I don't know if I'm doing this for myself (maybe), my girlfriend (probably), or my blog (partially). As long as I'm not doing this for eeevil, there's no harm in making a few bucks.

Mitch Ratcliffe, who has always made his living as a writer, explains how he wants this to succeed so that when he retires, he knows there will be money in blogs:
Maybe when I am 64, I'll be making what I do today solely through blogging, which would be a great way to spend my "retirement," because when I stop writing I expect the very first thing I'll do is die.
Oh god, sounds so much like me. I can't even be sure we'll still have an internet when I retire, but I need an outlet for my writing. I started blogging because I needed to write, and I just wan't getting to write about as much stuff as a liked, or as much about stuff I liked. What makes me able to write close to a thousand posts in the last four months is the penny or two I get from those (well, I actually can't say who or where I got the money from, so look up, right and down). A few pennies for what I view as better work than a few pennies deserves was enough for me. However, knowing there's $2400 coming over the next few months, and the possibility that this will spur on further companies acts as a little voice in my ear saying "It's okay, you're not wasting your time". If you'd prefer I not receive a bit of cash for this blog, I can't guarantee I'll be writing a blog at all. A tiny motivation goes a long way.

Jon Lebkowsky's company is actually a competitor of Marqui's! How's that for objectivity? He can't shill for Marqui because he could lose his job, and he can't bash Marqui because he could be accused of taking their money despite a preexisting bias. Jon says he'll simply do what they want, divert his attention their way so he can write about whatever catches his eye, which he thinks is "commendable that they would do so, without trying to control the message".

Susan Kaup isn't doing it for the money, but for the experience. Companies ask her all the time to write about them, and she typically ignores them because they want something for nothing. But, if some company "wants to pay me to ocassionally talk about their products and services, why not?" Every company pimps the blogosphere for free ads; at least Marqui is giving bloggers some compensation. We're all doing this blogging thing for free, whether or not we get paid. No one's blogging for money, we're just focusing on Marqui for money. And this is some grandiose experiment, and you know what is the first qualification of an experiment? They're prepared for it to fail. Marqui knows there's an equal chance this will get them nowhere, and they will be throwing away their money, so, so what if we don't shill for them? They won't care. They're goals are smaller, and that lets everyone just be themselves.

Richard Murray references why I've received roughly a billion emails since I signed up earlier this week:

This whole Marqui thing is a bit quirky…

It’s an approach that we’re all trying to work out how things happen, and convincing the Marqui people to start writing their own views as well, so that we can open a bit of a dialog for all of this writing that we’re going to do… be able to trackback to the corporate blogs, etc.

The quirky bit is that we’re all communicating using “Reply to all” in our email clients, and not the blogging tech that we’re all trying to push.


Richard MacManus knows Marc a little from before, having interviewed him in March, and loves the social networking possibilities this program offers. It's true. I get to meet 16 new bloggers (and one company), including Marc, the man who founded what would become Macromedia back in 1984. You guys get to find out about 16 new bloggers (and one company), any of whom you may start reading, which could be really cool. Plus, if I'm checking all these guys out, that means some of them are checking me out, and we can expand the conversation here. Maybe I can even find the programmer who's excited about the "big idea" that's been fomenting in my head these last few months.

And, finally (although I left out two or three who haven't said anything yet), Eric Rice is giving away his money! Well, not all of it, but $1000 for starters. $500 goes to Doug Kaye's IT Conversations, and the other $500 will support some podcasting cause. Cool idea.

You can also check out the Marqui bloggers TopicExchange site, which should be a way to keep track of what's being said. If someone can create a unified RSS feed, lets do that too. Marc has indicated we'll hopefully see a Marqui corporate blog soon, so that should be interesting as well. It's strange that I'm spending all this time talking about the program and not the company, but technically that counts, too. Still, I'm going to check out Marqui's system so you all know what it's about.


Comments:
Hi, I think you misquoted me. You wrote:

"Susan Kaup isn't doing it for the money, but for the experience. Companies ask her all the time to write about them, and she does, so if someone "wants to pay me to ocassionally talk about their products and services, why not?""

I never said that I write about the companies who ask me to write about them. I usually ignore them. Recently I've pushed back and asked what they are offering in exchange for the input -- such as in the case of Yahoo! Local contacting me. Usually I get offered free stuff (books, CDs, event tickets) in exhange for using them as giveaways for my event newsletter at sooz.com. (I have an event calendar website where I get event tickets and photo passes but that's something else entirely.)

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify what you wrote.

-- Susan Kaup
 
Hey Susan. How's your experience so far with Marqui?

Anyway, I edited the post. Hope it's clearer now.
 
Hi:
Please remove me from this post. I am not blogging for Marqui.

More info at:
http://www.rolandtanglao.com/archives/2004/12/08/i_am_not_blogging_for_marqui
 
Done.
 
I think it is great. Capitalism has finally hit the blogsphere.
;-)
 
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