Thursday, June 24, 2010
Free running amok is the theme today in two different pieces I saw.
First, C-Monster is a blog that publishes amazing art finds, to put it simply. I saw something different though from writer-publisher Carolina A. Miranda on the state of freelance writing worth checking out. It’s a different take on the state of publishing in general and how free writing and the need to market yourself are ruining the industry. She hits on something affecting anyone really: this idea of being paid in the form of exposure. I’m paraphrasing the general vibe around the word but it’s this notion if you simply work for free, the exposure you get is compensation enough.
This however, only feeds the current crowdsource mindset setting in among many brands because once you lower the price, they just expect more of the same next time. Two times free equals what again? Yep, free. You tend to hear mostly from publishers whining about lost ad revenue, or from reporters who feel forced out, but it’s nice to hear a different view from someone else in the equation.
By coincidence, I’d also come across something on Twitter today about the state of publishing. Writer Jane Devlin started a project called Finding My America that has her going across the country and documenting it. Nothing new there as many people do this with many different executions. (See below for shameless plug.)
But in the context of the theme and hearing the refrain of how industry pressures result in this quick-hit, sound-bite style of journalism, it’s nice to read things from a personal perspective that dig deeper. Her writing reminds you that compelling content draws you in. That you have to put yourself out there like this on your own time (and often, dime), seems unfortunate on one hand. But, exposure for the project plays a part here too.
So is free now just the cost of business? Or has it always been. To that point, Humongo is set to launch the fourth iteration of its national tour which again has sponsorship by major brands like Ford and Sprint. But year one? Zero.
Three weeks on the road wasn’t cheap and a big risk for a small agency with almost no budget for something that big. The payoff though was new business and a social media presence that eventually gets you in Ad Age and on the radar to be acquired.
In this case, free worked out, but you don’t know any of that ahead of time, and you can’t, because the biggest part of free is also faith. Faith that it will work out and lead to something bigger.
Or more free.
Posted 11:26 AM