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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

Blogging For Billions

Recently, socialite Ariana Huffington sold her Huffington Post website to AOL for $US 315 million. Huffington founded the site from her Los Angeles home in 2005. Phoning around using an almost evangelical pitch, Huffington convinced hundreds of high-profile celebrities and political personalities to contribute to her website. Eventually around 9000 bloggers were producing the site’s content. There’s no doubt the website’s success depended on quality writing. Without it, the Huffington Post could not have attracted 26 million individual visitors per month. However, no sooner had Huffington pocketed the profits from sale of the site than a disgruntled blogger instigated a class action suit against her, claiming writers were not rewarded financially for their work. Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, it seems accurate to say that most bloggers receive little or nothing in the way of compensation for their writing. So why do it?

In his recent Writespace blog ‘Writing by Numbers’, Ian Clarke commented: “[Writers] write because we want to write. An idea comes and we can’t wait to write it down.” If Clarke’s comment is to be believed, many bloggers write and post screeds and screeds of daily comment for none other than the simple joy of writing.

Others blog for exposure. Indeed, Huffington’s lawyers argue that the Huffington Post provides a free service to bloggers by allowing their comments to reach a vast audience.  While hits on most websites fall short of the Huffington Post, an engaging and well-written blog can attract significant readership in a relatively short time, and this can create opportunities for the writer. For example, in August 2002 writer Julie Powell began the Julie/Julia Project, a blog chronicling her efforts to prepare all the recipes in Julia Child‘s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The blog quickly gained a large following, attracting a book deal for Powell (Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, 2005) which later inspired the first movie based on a blog experience (Julie and Julia, 2009 starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep).

Blogging also connects writers with a community of like-minded people, people with a common interest. A website exists for almost any topic you care to dream up. Yes, probably even that one! The Huffington Post was intended as a liberal foil to United States’ major television networks, typically right-winged. Likewise, our own Writespace blog connects the literary arts community in Tauranga and beyond, providing a platform for established and emerging writers to reach a wide readership. Contributors to this blog are unpaid, which is fine because most of us write for the simple joy of writing. However, we’ll be watching the outcome of the class action suit against Huffington with interest.

Just in case Sunlive sells for billions.

[Sunlive is a local news site which runs an arts blog]

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