Bloglovin’ and unpaid contributors

Bloglovin’ are looking for contributors.

Here, they say they’re after a ‘wave of talented food writers/curators’ willing to contribute ‘1-2 articles per week [unpaid]’

Here, more recently, they’re looking for a ‘wave of talented home decor writers/curators’ willing to contribute ‘1-2 articles per week [unpaid]’.

Having secured $7m investment a couple of years ago, I thought it fair that I should ask them – on Twitter – whether there was any of that money left to pay their contributors.

After a week, no response.

I retried, cc’ing the account of their co-founder, Mattias Swenson.

After a week, no response.

Lately, perhaps it’s just a consequence of getting older, I’ve been losing my patience with non-payers. (See my frustration at an Archant publication here on my food allergy and intolerance blog.)

There are times when writing for free is OK. I’ve contributed guest posts or free copy to small websites in the past, for example; I’ve written an article to help promote one of my books. I’ve even asked – and still ask – potential contributors to write posts for this blog (thank you, Lucy – your post is still proving popular!). I have written previously about writing for free – on Mistake No. 75, and Mistake No. 99 – and I think my thoughts then remain mostly the same now.

There is, I think, now a line to be drawn under those who ask for regular contributions almost as a matter of routine, or as policy, or who ask journalists to provide quality articles without pay – and who are a money-making venture – or clearly have sufficient funding to pay should they wish to pay. For me, the line should be about finance – can they afford it? Are they looking to profit from the endeavour to which they are asking you to contribute?

Every case must be judged on its own merits, and I’m quite prepared to give individuals and organisations the benefit of the doubt, but my alarm bells will be ringing loudly and my dissenting response will likely be triggered at any future request for work accompanied by ostentatious promises of – urgh – exposure, or, as Bloglovin’ offer, the promise of “feedback on how you can improve & grow your blogs [sic] audience”.

It will not get better if we continue to put up with this crap, or indulge it to the degree with which we have until now, which appears to have normalised this sort of treatment of writers and aspiring writers.

I have deleted my Bloglovin’ account.

Comments 8

  • What I find frustrating is that these things are paraded as 'opportunities'and are in fact, doing writers a favour. This may be occasionally true (delighted to write for you!), but it is so widespread now that our words and trade are given very little value. It's all about platform. Yes, that can be important but if we are writing for free all the time we will, eventually, cease writing well (owing partly to the need to pay our bills). I do know those who speak against writing for money, as if it were an insult to the art (!!). I think the opposite is true.

  • Apologies for any poor grammar/punctuation – typing on my phone!

  • Excellent point that I'm not sure I'd ever considered: writing for free makes you a worse writer in the long run. I agree!

  • As you say, if the organisation is set up to make a profit, then they should pay for content. I wonder how many others will delete their Bloglovin' account? Have we already passed the point of no return when it comes to writing for free? I hope not. If enough people take a stand change can happen. (Last year the photographic agency I sell my photos through changed their terms and conditions, much to many photographers' annoyance. They refused to accept logical argument, so thousands of us began the procedures to remove our photos from their agency. Funnily enough, their position then changed. Their T&Cs were clarified to most photographers' satisfaction. Change can happen, but only if big enough numbers call for it. And no, I won't mention the referendum!)

  • I would like to see more direct action taken on such organisations – questioning them, unfollowing them on social media, refusing to share their material, warning fellow writers about them … it doesn't matter if the action is small or big, as it does add up.

    That said, even if some such companies are shamed into paying, I do have to ask myself whether I would want to actually work for anyone who pays only begrudgingly …

  • Hi, I'm a contributing writer for Bloglovin' and randomly ran into this post. When I applied for this position, they said they were looking for contributing intern ( unlike this time). So when I found out that I had to write with no pay, for me it just seems like another no pay internship. I guess the bigger problem is the distorted meaning of an "intern", and whether it's just a pretty title for employing free labor. As for us, we're just starters trying to gain experience in an industry, it's hard to say no.

  • I do understand. But I've seen this sort of thing go on for years. I just think it's unacceptable from a company who can – quite obviously, quite easily – pay. It doesn't have to be much. It can just be a starter payment, a modest sum, even £50 per 1,000 words, to show some sort of appreciation for the work you are doing. I really would like to see a minimum writing wage come into force.

  • I think it just undermines writing as a valid profession. The trouble is there are so many writers out there who don't have writing as their main income and so for whom the financial side doesn't matter so much to them, that will write for free or next to nothing and some editors and publications absolutely capitalise on this. It weakens the standing and payment negotiation ability of writers who do need the money in order for their writing business to survive.

    I know we all write for different reasons and I know there are circumstances when writing for free are okay but I'm with you, Alex, on the point that if a company receives an income from the publication they produce or they have funding and pay the rest of their team then they should also pay contributing writers. No excuses.

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