Are You Giving It Away For Free?

If you don’t know “Mommy Blogger” Jessica Gottlieb, you should.  She is one of the funniest and feistiest people I’ve met on the social media scene,  IRL (in real life) and if not the planet. Her blog and vlog posts, whether sweet but mostly sassy, are always insightful, intelligent and make you think or question the status quo.  I hate the status quo which is why I admire and respect her beyond words.  She never is afraid to speak her mind – for or against what she believes – a trait unfortunately not shared by many in today’s world.  After all, she’s the original the Motrin Mom and she is a true warrior for justice!

But back to the subject at hand – why am I especially praising Jessica today above all days? Well, I just watched her latest YouTube vlog and as expected she’s taking sharp aim at her subject.  What made this one different was that she’s not slinging arrows at some big brand or corporate malfeasance, she’s taking sharp aim at her fellow brothers and sisters of the blog.  “Why are Bloggers Bankrupt?,”  she asks. “They need to stop being sluts and giving away their content for free!” My interpretation and choice of words!

Those words hit my ears like manna from heaven.  For the past 20 plus years, I was paid handsomely for my writing and producing skills and would never have thought to give my work away for free.  How would I pay my rent, feed my kids, support my shoe addiction?  A huge television empire was built on the work I and others did for it but we were paid.  That TV empire (that shall remain nameless) continues to grow bigger off the blood, sweat and tears of its anorexically downsized workforce while many of its formerly loyal employees are waiting to see if they can continue to get unemployment benefits continued.  But that’s another rant for another time.  My point is none of us ever gave it away for free.

My blog began as a hobby, an outlet to write more personal stories and about things that mattered to me. My day job was spent writing short pithy on-air promos and advertising copy – my blog was my chance to not only write more than thirty seconds of copy- but maybe give back something to the world. Frankly back then, I had no idea that people did get paid to blog other than the big news organizations or those connected to some media entity.  After I was laid off and promo jobs were scarce, I discovered that one could make money by blogging.  “Wow,”  I thought somewhat big-headedly, this would be a no-brainer for moi.  I mean with my experience and skills, I could just knock this blogging baby out of the park and take home the big bucks before I hit home plate.  So as I explored the business of blogging, I’ve since found out, how bloggers are re-numerated for their services, is a tangled web of coupons, giveaways, sponsorships as well as pay for play maze.  There is no set “standard” to charge for your services, no day rate, per word rate, and even a per click rate may not accurately reflect the blood, sweat and number of characters one puts into their efforts.  I am still trying to figure this out as I have begun the process of “monetizing” my blog and my Web TV show on    What’s more,  how can there be pay parity among bloggers or even rate card developed in a system where people are not properly valuing their talent and influence and once again, they are giving it away for free.

Jessica’s words sparked the memory of what my mother used to repeat to me over and over again – “Marla, why would boys buy the cow, if the milk is free?” As a young girl, I didn’t know what she was talking about,  as a teenager, during the era of free-love,  I really didn’t care.  Like most things, I eventually found out the hard way that mother is always right. Boys used the easy girls and the ones who played hard to get, always landed the guy.

So heed the words of “Mother” Jessica….stop giving your content away for free! Our livelihoods depend on it!

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  1. Marla Schulman says:

    Thank you for commenting – as I said in the article – if more of us valued our content – “they” would be able to get away with that! Unfortunately, America is now built on outsourcing for the “cheapest” way possible i.e. “Made in China,” so sad!

  2. Great points made. I never do sponsored posts. I’m amazed people write articles for $5-$10 a post. I spend hours on mine and I would never write for such a small amount. I’m worth more. Good for you spreading the news that you don’t have to settle for that.

  3. Marla Schulman says:

    Thank you Jessica!

  4. I am so flattered by your kind words, and also thrilled by your message.

  5. Marla Schulman says:

    Thanks Lucretia for expanding on this subject further as I am still a newbie in this arena and love hearing from those like you who have paved the way.

    As I said my biz experience has been in TV ad biz where the same holds true. There were always alot of younger eager beavers to take our place, and some companies thought they were saving money by using cheaper talent. But when they finally figured out that cheaper talent took longer and more work to get to desired result, it wasn’t cheaper in the long run at all.

    I can only affirm as I move forward into my piece of the blogosphere, that I will do my best work and I will expect to be compensated appropriately…otherwise, as Jessica said, I should spend my time sending out resumes…I hope I won’t have to.

    Thank you again for dropping by.

  6. Marla Schulman says:

    Hey Jack,
    Thanks for stopping by it’s always nice to hear from you! While, I do agree that being an “expert” in a subject is one very important criteria to be paid what you are worth for your work, in the blog world it is not the only reason you/

    For example, what makes movie reviewers experts in their field? Are they filmmakers or scriptwriters? Do they need to be? There are some I agree with and some I don’t, so I like others tend to listen to those I seem to share similar tastes. Bloggers can be experts, journalists or editorial writers or as a group just “influencers” – and while this subject is huge and I only cut across a small swath of it, Jessica’s point is still valid. Don’t sell yourself short, your content does have value and big corporations do take advantage of some.


  7. This ongoing issue is going to keep being an issue until our industry figures out that you do, in fact, get what you pay for.

    Many, many mega-corporations have made it to the top of their heaps by figuring out that if you get “the little guy” to work for you for free for a bit by hanging the carrot in front of him that “we can’t pay you this time, but you’re investing in a future with us, don’t worry, you’ll make money down the road…” only to ditch that “little guy” when he catches on that he’s not getting the carrot and replace him with the next one. They grind through “little guys” all the while making them bear the burden of the cost.

    This same thing applies to bloggers — there will always be another “little guy” falling for the carrot.

    But additionally, there are those who realize that the carrot is on a stick and say “ooooh yeah, I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t work on the promise of nebulous future rewards that aren’t guaranteed. Like you, I’m a smart business person.”

    If their product is one that the ‘big guy’ can’t do without? He’ll pay for it. If it’s something he can get from a dozen eager-but-not-so-savvy ‘little guys’? He’ll move on.

    But they didn’t get to be mega-corporations by not realizing that sometimes, *they* have to pay for things. They just don’t usually offer to up-front.

    As you said – why buy the cow…

  8. Bloggers would be well served to prove that they are experts in a particular field and then they would have far more leverage.

  9. Marla Schulman says:

    Ya think? I am new to this “game” as I said so I am in shock and awe over some of the “best practices” that people subscribe too! Perhaps, with people like Jessica speaking out and those of us others spreading the word, this too shall change.


    Thank you for stopping by….always a pleasure!!

  10. all I can say is “ditto” for me. It’s unbelievable what ppl expect from me in exchange for NOHTING!

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