After reading James Chartrand’s post “Screw Community,” I’m inclined to put up a “What is Community?” post. I’ve defined community and its importance many times at Kommein, but that’s a whole different niche and a whole different, well, community. So I decided to bring it up here as well.
In James’ post, he rants about bloggers who throw out the community buzzword whenever they need a favor or free stuff. I can relate. I receive requests every day from bloggers who want me to write for free, oh I mean provide a guest post. They feel we’re all part of the blogging community and therefore it’s perfectly alright to expect something from me in this manner. It’s not. Using someone to get ahead is still using someone, regardless of community. Asking for free stuff isn’t community and it’s not advancing someone else’s career, it’s asking for something for nothing.
Let’s explore community and why it’s important.
What is community?
An online community is made up of a group of people who share the same interests, ideals and goals. The freelance writing jobs community gathers here because they’re interested in finding work and learning about ways to have a successful freelance writing career.
How important is community?
To a blogger community is very important. Our community makes or breaks us. Our community reads our posts and shares it with others. Our community discusses our topics and offers thoughts and ideas. In short, we wouldn’t be anywhere without our community.
Writing with your community in mind
Even though blogs about writing are a dime a dozen, we all have different communities. While we do adjust our content with our community in mind, they’re our community because they like our message. If they didn’t care what we had to say, they might move along to another blogger’s community. The bloggers who don’t do well are the bloggers who don’t care about community.
Do all blogs have a community?
The purpose of a blog is to build up a community and create a dicussion around the day’s topic(s). Without discussion or community interaction, you might as well be writing just another article for just another website.
In short, community is you. When bloggers blog, we do so to reach out to our own communities. We also hope to touch people in other communities. There’s nothing wrong with bringing other communities together or even being part of more than one community.
Screw community? No, embrace community. Screw the people who want to use you to get ahead.
James Chartrand - Men with Pens says
Amen to that.
Great post. I’ll admit that I pretty regularly ask other writers and/or bloggers if they’d like to participate in interviews or offer a guest post for the blogs I write. I’ve never looked at it as taking advantage of or using the other person to get ahead, as I’d happily do the same for them, and have. In fact, I started offering to do guest posts and interviews long before I started asking others to do them for me and I usually offer to exchange posts or interviews if the other writer is interested. I’ve always thought of guest posts as a great way for writers/bloggers to find new audiences and build their own community. And I’d never take offense if I asked someone if they’d be interested in writing a guest post or being interviewed and they turned me down.
Maybe I think this way because my blogs don’t make money and I didn’t create them to do so. Not that there is anything wrong with monetizing a blog and treating it as a business, because I admire those that do. I’m just not one of them at this time. I understand that some people’s goals are different, though, and time is always worth money.
All that being said, you’ve really made me think about my guest post policy and how other writers might be interpreting my requests. My community is extremely important to me. Having support, conversation and interaction within a community makes what we do as writers/bloggers worthwhile. I’d hate to think I’ve been alienating other writers with invitations to write posts for my blogs.
Thanks for your thoughts. I used to encourage guest blog posts too but I realized it was free content so I began to pay.It’s not a huge amount – $15 – $50 depending on the length of the piece, research,etc. but I can’t in good conscience encourage anyone to write here without any money. I don’t believe it has anything to do with a profit – it’s what is fair to the writer.
Thanks, Deb. I appreciate your opinion–that’s why I come here, after all. You’ve definitely given me something to think about. In fact, now I’m wondering if offering up my writing in the form of free guest posts might be under-valuing my words and worth. Not placing high enough value on my own writing may be part of the reason why I’ve never thought twice about asking others to write for my blogs without compensation. Something serious to consider.
I still think a fair exchange of posts (“in-kind trade” as Dawn called it) seems reasonable to me, though. But that opinion may change as I think about this more…
I’m all for a fair exchange. I think the important thing to consider is to make sure the end justifies the means. Is all the work being put into a piece of writing worth the return. If it is, go for it. If it isn’t, think about how to make it work the next time around.
Ami,you said exactly what I was thinking! Thank you so much. And I’m like you, blogging not for profit. I guess that’s my whole life ‘not for profit.’ 🙂
I first read the item here about writer mills and how they’re just fine and doesn’t devalue writers and then read this about people asking you to guest blog and taking advantage of you. It seems like its okay if a big company asks you to do something for almost nothing; but it isn’t okay for a fellow writer or friend or colleague to do the same thing for exposure or introducing you to a new audience. Is that dollars vs in-kind trade? Hmmmm.
Because something isn’t making a profit doesn’t mean it’s ok not to pay writers. It has nothing to do with profit, it has to do with someone writing for nothing – or getting very little in return. It seems strange that we’re all outraged by all the losers looking for freebie writing on Craiglist but turn around and say, “hey write my guest post for free.” I’m not sure I see the difference. That’s why I pay for guest posts here. I don’t pay a huge amount of money, but I don’t take something for nothing.
In regard to writing mills: As I mentioned on more than one occasion, I’m not for all content mills. There are a few that I feel are good experiences for writers, others I feel are bad experiences.
The content mills I support offer:
*A chance for a writer to become published and receive payment
*The opportunity to earn a livable wage
*Tools and editorial guidance to help further a freelance writing career.
However, as they all pay their writers, I believe they’re a better solution than working for free for a website or blog that may not offer much in the way of exposure.
I hope that helps to explain things a little better. I take a lot of heat for my support of certain content sites but I will still maintain some of these places are a great place for writers to get their start and supplement their income. I can’t say the same about guest blogging for a blog that receives little traffic.
I must say I’ve rarely found true “community” with fellow writers, though I’ve found individual friendships. I guess my experience is that writers aren’t usually community-oriented folks. We work alone — and though we may find we can learn from one another, the reality is that we are each on our own road.
Even when I’ve been involved with writers’ groups, I’ve found that our perspectives on what’s good, bad, interesting or worthwhile differ wildly. I love genre fiction; others feel that only literary fiction is worthwhile. I like blogging and want my blogging to be taken seriously; others think that blogging is plain silly. I write for kids, and plenty of writers think of YA and children’s writing as second rate.
I don’t need other writers to validate my choices or smooth my road. It is nice, though, to occasionally meet a “fellow traveller!”
That’s an interesting perspective, Lisa. Like you, I’ve made some good friends, but I have also found some tight knit communities on writing forums and some blogs.
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