OPEN LETTER TO NETMUMS & FRIENDS
Dear Netmums and Others, Thank you so much for featuring my blog 'What's Your Brand of Crazy?' on your website as Blog of the Day yesterday (6th July 2015). It's always great to hear that people like what you're putting out there and of course, to be featured on such a prominent, popular and successful site such as Netmums is great exposure for me and the blog. So that's nice.
The problem is, exposure doesn't pay the bills. Unsurprisingly, I usually charge to create content for websites, especially very successful ones like yours. Occasionally, if I feel there is real merit to it and benefit from it, I may agree to provide content for a discounted cost or for no charge at all but that very much depends on you asking nicely. Obviously.
While I appreciate your email yesterday morning informing me that you were going to use my blog on your site, I feel you were a little remiss in assuming that would be ok. A simple, "Would you mind if we took your original content and copied it to fill up our website and give our readers something cool to read?" would have sufficed.
You see, writing is my skill. It's kind of my 'thing' and while it may not be as tangible as other things that people 'make' and 'sell', I do make it and therefore it is mine to sell, or give away. I'm sure you wouldn't just walk up to an independent seller at a craft stall who was selling beautiful jewellery, for example, and say, 'Hey, I'm going to take this if that's ok? It's really cool and I think you should just give it to me? Don't worry, I'll tell loads of people about it.' I'm not saying you couldn't do that; you totally could it's just that the police would most likely have something to say about it because, last time I checked, taking stuff without asking is illegal. Some call it stealing.
Of course, in the interests of self-promotion, I know lots of brands and bloggers that do choose to give some of their stuff away to people for free in a kind of 'I'll scratch your back; you scratch my back' kind of way. I also give some of my words away for free as well sometimes...there are lots of people who have asked really nicely if I would mind providing content and they are so lovely and polite and kind and not arrogant at all, and they're generally working their butts off on their own start-up project too so, of course, I don't mind.
But, and forgive me if you think I'm being ungrateful here, it kind of sucks when an uber successful, well-established site with a whopping 85 staff working behind the scenes, eight published books under their belt, OBEs for the founders, a healthy advertising income, 1.7 million members and 473 meet up organisers around the country can't bring themselves to offer writers a small stipend for the words that they take and fill up their website with.
I realise I'm burning a Netmums bridge but that's not what's important. It's not like it earns me any money. What's important is that we start rewarding people for the work they do. Maybe you do pay some bloggers, I don't know. All I know is that you didn't pay me, you didn't offer to pay me and you didn't even ask if I was alright with you reproducing content on your site. If I was writing songs instead of blogs, nobody, not even the mighty Taylor Swift could use it without paying me a whole heap of moolah for it. I don't want a whole heap of moolah (although that would be nice). I just want to conduct business in the normal way: I provide a service, you pay for it. Supply and demand...I'm sure you've heard of it, right?
I could, of course, have said 'no' to you yesterday. I could have said, "Hang on a motherfunking minute...you can't have my words and recreate them on your site and not pay me anything for it because (and I'll put this really simply for you), it's stealing," but it seemed more fun to let you behave badly so that I could publicly reprimand you for such naughty behaviour.
Tut tut Netmums. You know what? Create your own content or pay other people properly to fill your site for you, but don't just take it and assume it's ok. Everything I write is time, it's energy, it's experience, it's skill. It's worth something and if you like it enough to want to feature it on your site then you should dang well like it enough to pay me a little money for it. There are too many bloggers out there who feel they have to bow down to mighty organisations and let them take their writing - I mean it's exposure after all, right? - but it's time for us all - writers, bloggers, whoever - to stand up and say, "I made it. You want it. Pay me for it please and thank you."
However, you've caught me in a good mood and if you happen to be looking for content, perhaps you'd like to reprint this blog? You know what...I'm feeling generous. You can have this one for free.
Cat Sims www.notsosmugnow.com
Reply received from Kate Gunn (Netmums) on July 7th 2015:
I’m Kate and I help manage the Bloggers Network for Netmums.
Rachel has been in touch to notify me of your concerns on having one of your posts featured on Netmums.
Firstly I’d like to apologise for any upset it has caused you. I know that you feel strongly about the issue and as a blogger I understand your issues.
However when we began featuring our Blog of the Day posts in May we notified all our members via a newsletter, stating clearing that -
“Our Blog of the Day picks will appear on Netmums with a full link back to your blog, and will be shared across our extensive social media accounts.
It you would rather your blog be omitted from the Blog of the Day programme just let us know by mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Our T&C’s also reflect the same, however we are sorry if that wasn’t clear to you.
Many of our members love being featured, but as this is not the case for you I have removed the post from Netmums and will notify all parties that you would rather not be featured in future. If you would like me to remove you from the Bloggers Network to ensure you are not linked to Netmums in any way please do let me know.
Good luck in your blogging journey.
Kate Gunn Freelance writer, Blogger, Netmums Blogger Outreach
Dear KateThank you for your email and for taking the time to clarify some issues.However, just because you make it clear that you will use blogs as content for free doesn't make it right. It's quite simple...I'm sure you don't work for free and I don't understand why bloggers are expected to. I'm sure you expect to be paid for the space your advertisers take up on your site? It's not rocket science.I believe you are abusing your position as a corporate giant within the industry to get content for free when you could and should afford to pay for it. It's immoral and while I'm sure lots of bloggers are over the moon to be featured I have met many who are sick of handing over free content to you. I have also met many who blog for fun and have never written before (but are bloody good at it) and perhaps don't even consider that they should be receiving renumeration for their work - you take advantage of them. Either commission original material and pay for it properly or write it yourself.You can be as passive aggressive as you like with your thinly veiled and somewhat arrogant threats but what you seem to forget is that we don't need Netmums to be successful in what we do.So thank you for removing my content from your site. The extra 100 or so hits it got my site is nothing compared to the 'booming' stats I have had today from my open letter. In the interests of transparency I will also be publishing our ongoing conversation.It's a shame you are not prepared to just do the right thing.Cat