There’s a new idea in publishing: link, don’t pay. If a company wants your online content, they just link to it. That way, it’s argued, even though you don’t get a check for supplying editorial, you get a bump in traffic.
And isn’t that what we all want? More traffic?
Well yes. More traffic makes us feel superior when we see rising numbers of unique visitors. It leads to more income from ads, and potentially, more links. But more traffic alone doesn’t pay the mortgage.
One of my students mentioned talking to the Meredith Corporation about providing content to a new site. They want to download the entire content of her blog, and all they’ll give her is a link. She was struggling with whether to agree. Is it worth it? Why would anyone go to her blog if it’s all on Meredith’s site?
The New York Times launched a Bay Area website, and listed several excellent food blogs in its Eating & Drinking blogroll. Everybody wins, it seems, except for the freelancer who could have created original content. The paper lowered its budget, the bloggers are honored and thrilled by the bump in traffic, and the readers — well, they click through to the blogs, where the content lives, as sanctioned by the Times.
Even the famous writers are settling for links instead of cash. Epicurious announced last week it will feature content (read: recipes) from the cookbooks of famous chefs and personalities like Jacques Pepin and Lidia Bastianich. Being a smarty-pants Communist (a former boss’s term of endearment), I emailed the p.r. person at Epicurious to find out how these big-time authors will be paid.
Surprise! They will not. Instead, Epicurious provides an Amazon link to the book in which their recipe appears. “We believe this will drive sales for the authors,” she said. I guess Random House convinced these famous authors to think of recipes as advertising tools instead of editorial content.
Well, call me nostalgic. I remember the days when writers got paid to write website content, or paid to have content reproduced elsewhere. Is that a quaint idea now?