Event: The Blogging Economy.

Last Tuesday night I attended the Meanland event, The Blogging Economy, at the Wheeler Centre.

The panel was hosted by Zora Sanders, deputy editor of literary journal Meanjin, and consisted of ThreeThousand editor Penny Modra, journalist for New Matilda and Crikey, among others, Ben Eltham, and Jacinda Woodhead, associate editor of Overland, who is working on a PhD in the politics of abortion. Count me in for that one when/if it gets published!

I was expecting a bit more content on how to make money from your own blog, in terms of advertising, but I was pleasantly surprised with the advice and opinions Modra and Woodhead, especially, had to give on writing for other blogs for money.

Modra said she insists on paying for contributions to her Melbourne city guide website, even if it’s just a small amount (around $25 for a 100 word review/preview), as that’s all she has to work with as editor of ThreeThousand.

But such a small amount of money for such a small amount of words doesn’t mean you can slack off: Modra’s had freelancers submit previews for gigs, in which they didn’t even Google the address of the venue to make sure it was correct! She muses that “words should cost more” to counteract this but, by the same token, “everything you do has to be good… I just want the writing to be good!” How else do you expect to make it in the freelance/blogging economy?

Woodhead brought up The Huffington Post, soon to launch in Australia, which sold to AOL for $315 million, and who doesn’t pay their contributors. She urged Australian freelancers and bloggers not to write for them, because if they can afford to be sold for mega millions, they can afford to pay their contributors. Fair’s fair.

Some of her other points, though, I didn’t agree with. I’ve always been someone to follow my dreams and find a way to “make it work”, as Project Runway’s Tim Gunn would say. Woodhead believes, however, that “just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean there’s an economic system to support it.” This didn’t go down too well with the audience, and one woman asked Woodhead to clarify her statement in the Q&A portion of the event.

She also asserted that the blogosphere is “evolving” into a “discussion”; it’s not like traditional print in that you pay the writer to actively inject their views and opinions into the passive audiences’ brains (if you were going with the high school media studies model of the hypodermic needle theory of consumption). At the Overland blog, they don’t—because they can’t afford to—pay their bloggers, but Woodhead wonders, if you pay bloggers, should you pay commenters for their contribution?

My money’s on no. Most of the comments I get here on The Scarlett Woman do further the discussion, but this isn’t true of a lot of other blogs. Also, I think the more successful the blog/blogger, the more it/they attract the psychos! Especially when it comes to the more controversial topics.

Eltham spoke about a recent study that showed that artists in Australia—including writers—earned less than $10,000 for their work. It’s a bleak outlook, indeed, but I refuse to be disheartened! It just means you might have to supplement your artistic income with a less-artistic day job. Or marry a rich sugar daddy!

But, seriously, the unpaid blogosphere is about “citizens engaging in democratic discussion” that doesn’t always happen in paid writing. For every Gala Darling, there are 10,000 (probably more!) languishing bloggers going nowhere. And that’s fine; maybe that’s the way they want it. Hobby blogging!

We didn’t get into writing for the money. If that were true, we’d be in the business of hedge fund managing or some other über-rich-sounding Americanised profession. We got into it for the love of the craft; for getting our voice out there and, for some, making a difference.

I refuse to hop on Woodhead’s bleak bandwagon, and subscribe more to Modra’s sunny outlook: if your work is good, recognition for said work will come.

Related: The Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

“Who the Bloody Hell Are We? The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Elsewhere: [Meanjin] Homepage.

[The Thousands] Melbourne.

[Overland] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] An Unpopular Culture Niche (+ HuffPo of Oz).

Daughters.

From Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, via “How to Talk to Little Girls” by Lisa Bloom in The Huffington Post:

“Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favourite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does…

“Here’s to changing the world, one little girl at a time.”

Related: Beauty VS. Brains.

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Try this the next time you meet a little girl…

[The Huffington Post] How to Talk to Little Girls.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

On the censorship of Andrej Pejic’s Dossier cover:

“… why is Pejic’s cover getting the same treatment as a porno mag? What message are the big bookstore chains sending—that the male torso is only appropriate [for] all-ages viewing when the man in question is ripped?”

Mia Freedman on when life begins.

SlutWalker Leslie Cannold on “the right to be equally mediocre”.

Speaking of SlutWalk, the Melbourne event’s coordinator, Clem Bastow, writes on the event for the Sydney Morning Herald.

The ostentatious disgustingness of “Push Presents”.

Glee: give fat girls a chance.

 The militant atheist doesn’t exist.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sexual assault allegations are one in the same, according to “The Media’s Groping Problem”.

In the same vein: why powerful men sexually assault women.

From Texas’ hottest sex offenders to Strauss-Kahn’s “hot-or-not” accuser.

What would “a word where Aspergers was the norm” look like? “Girls who spend hours a day straightening their hair are recommended for counselling,” amongst other things.

Rebecca Sparrow on “Hollywood’s Fake Teenagers”.

As if we didn’t need another reason to love Mick Foley: the Huffington Post names him their “Greatest Person of the Day”.

Meghan McCain rips the sexist and sizist Glenn Beck a new one.

Much to my mother’s—and her fellow kindy mums’—dismay, my big-for-her-age, four-year-old sister refused to walk to preschool, so Mum was forced to push her in a stroller. Check out Too Big For Stroller for more on this hideous phenomenon.

Are child murderers born evil or created?

In the case of toddler James Bulger’s murderers (one of whom re-offended after being released and is now back in jail), and Dontez Tillman and Thomas McCloud, who beat and tortured “two homeless men over the course of two days”, I tend to lean towards them being “born that way”. If Law & Order and Criminal Minds have taught us anything, it’s that children who demonstrate these kinds of behaviours usually turn out to be sociopathic serial killers.

Image via Queer Me Up, Psychology Today, Even Without Popcorn.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“Christina Aguilera: Always the Second Fiddle.”

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions anymore, namely because I could never realise mine. But I like Rachel Hills’ idea of writing an obituary for the year passed. In this case, her 2008 in review.

HuffPo on the absence of modern technology in modern literature:

“The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren’t so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment’s rest.”

Girl with a Satchel ponders the price of a pretty picture.

“Caring for Your Introvert” is one of the best articles I’ve read all year (and considering it was written in 2003, that’s saying something). Here, an excerpt:

“With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. ‘People person’ is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like ‘guarded’, ‘loner’, ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, ‘self-contained’, ‘private’—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.’”

Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times notes that despite the introverted minority, television doesn’t reflect their existence very well. (Does television reflect anything very well?):

“Watch Seinfeld or Friends or Sex & the City or Community or Men of a Certain Age—the list is endless—and you’ll see people who not only are never ever alone but people whose relationships are basically smooth, painless, uninhibited and deeply, deeply intimate—the kind of friendships we may have had in college but that most of us can only dream about now. How many adults do you know who manage to hang out with their friends every single day for hour after hour?”

On that, Gossip Girl is notorious for misrepresenting reality. While she knows I love her, GG often makes me feel guilty about the clothes I’m not wearing, the sex I’m not having, and the events I’m not going to. Apparently, it’s not true to the books, either.

Check out The Washington City Paper for their musings on masculinity over the past decade, with a special focus on boy bands, metrosexuals, hipsters and guidos, à la Jersey Shore.

Gwyneth Paltrow: You either love her or hate her. I hated her with a passion until I saw her on Glee, in which she came across as carefree, cool and sexy and made her a tiny bit more relatable to the general populus who don’t subscribe to her Goop musings. Mia Freedman writes hilariously on this conundrum, with a focus on a related article from Salon.

Also at MamaMia, “17 Arguments Against Gay MarriageAnd Why They’re Bullocks” is brilliant.

Tangled will be the last fairytale Disney releases in a while.

Can you still be a feminist and dress in a bra top? (Of course you can; stay tuned for more on this next week.) Or espouse archaic notions of heterosexual relations, for that matter?

“The Ongoing, Albeit Amusing, Battle to Save Bristol” on Dancing with the Stars:

“‘This seems like a case of the rich, popular cheerleaders looking like they’ve sucked on a lemon when they learn that the poor girl in school, the one in the home-made clothes and religious family, gets elected Prom Queen.’

“I’ve rarely seen such a clean-cut example of the conservative tendency to say up is down and black is white. Or, more precisely, to bemoan how oppressed white, rich, and highly privileged people are.

“… But Bristol Palin hasn’t really done squat. She is literally famous for having a baby at an inopportune time. And now she continues to get promoted over more talented people than her because she was born into the right family… Bristol Palin is a hero to wingnut America because she’s a great example of rewarding someone for being born into privilege instead of on their merits.

“… I just find it extremely funny that the wingnutteria is backing someone with no talent on a show with no real importance to stick it to liberals who by and large don’t really care, and they’re doing so because they’re intoxicated by privilege and kind of wish they had a monarchy, but they’re pretending that they’re doing it because they want to see the oppressed rise above. I suppose after Dancing with the Stars is done, they should start sticking it to the liberals by defending poor, oppressed Paris Hilton, who is definitely the weird girl with handmade clothes that is picked on by cheerleaders.”

Mel Gibson and the curse of the “Sexiest Man Alive” tag.

On Stieg Larsson and the “disturbing”, “torturous” patriarchy of his Millennium trilogy.

Women are funny, too.

Profile: Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

I’ve only become familiar with Rachel Hills, sex and gender blogger at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, in the past few months, but she’s made her way to the top of my must-read blogs. Here, she answers questions about her inspiration, future writing goals and what she does in her spare time in a new city (she recently moved from Australia to begin a new chapter of her life in London).

Can you give us a quick run-down of your professional writing portfolio thus far?

I’ve been freelancing for six years now, and have written for (in alphabetical order) the ABC, The Age, The Australian, The Big Issue, The Bulletin, The Canberra Times, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, The Courier-Mail, Girlfriend, Girls’ Life (US), Glamour (UK), The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The Monthly, New Matilda, Russh, Sunday Life, Sunday Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Vogue, The Walkley Magazine and YEN, as well as a bunch of smaller, indie magazines and blogs.

I got my start writing opinion pieces for the Sydney Morning Herald. These days, I usually write “think piece” features on personal-is-political type issues, or women’s mag fare with smarts.

How long have you been blogging at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman and what made you decide to start a blog?

I just did a quick scan of my archives and discovered I just reached my three year anniversary on October 30.

I’ve written for the internet pretty much ever since it was possible to (I started my first website in 1998), but I was always kind of hesitant of writing publicly under my own name. As a teenager because of my secret pop music loving shame, as a university student because I was involved in student politics and that makes you extremely paranoid (not of people digging up info on you when you become a politician, but of people digging up info on you and putting it in the student newspaper), and then as an adult because I didn’t want to cannibalise my own story ideas.

I cracked through basically because I loved reading other people’s blogs, and because I was inspired by the way that other journalistsparticularly in the USwere using blogs to connect with their audiences. My blog was quite different when I first started writing it, thoughit was more a mix of political commentary, scrapbook and lifecast, as opposed to the more reflective, personal-is-political blog it is today.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I have a soft spot for blogs which make you feel like you’re getting to know the person writing itblogs like Gala Darling, Girl With A Satchel, Wordsmith Lane, The Ch!cktionary, Emily Magazine, Garance Dore, Style Rookie and The Scarlett Woman [that's me!] are often at the top of my Google Reader.

I also love blogs that make me think about thingsFeministe, Pandagon, The Awl, Tiara The Merch Girl, Rabbit White, Kapooka Baby, Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer, Racialicious. And people like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau are like mentors I’ve never met when it comes to things like blogging and community building.

I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I subscribe to on Google Reader, though, so that’s really just scraping the surface of what I read.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

I don’t think I actually have one! There are lots of stories I’m fond of, and I still get excited whenever I get a story up, but there isn’t one that stands out as being more significant than the others. I suppose the one I was most proud of at the time was that first opinion piece in the SMH. And I hope my book will be my proudest writing accomplishment in a couple of years.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

In 2006, I travelled around the US meeting some of my favourite journalists and editors: people from The Economist, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, US Cosmopolitan and so on. Very nerdy, but also very gutsy lots of people at home thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting it (with a couple of notable exceptions). I’m quite proud of that.

Back to your book, to be titled The Sex Myth; how is it coming along?

Haha, it’s coming along okay. I’m dedicating a lot of time to it at the moment, and there are bits of it that I really like, which is nice. I’ve shown the overview to a few high profile people, and the response has been universally very positive. I’m just trying to get everything in place at the moment to translate that positivity into a kickass book deal.

You’ve written about workaholism and the work/life balance in the past. How do you balance all your commitments?

It was much, much harder when I was living in Australia and holding down a near full-time job. Now that I’m working for myself again, it’s much easier to fit in all the things I want to work on, and living with my partner means I still make plenty of time for myself. (When he’s away, I start working later, procrastinating more and sleeping less.)

That said, even working for myself, I’m still managing four main areas of workfreelancing, book, PhD and blogonly one of which pays. So finding time for all of them can be a bit tricky.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Having spent the past two and a half years of my life reading books on the philosophy of sex, I’ve developed a bit of a fiction obsession recently. It’s so much easier and more relaxing to read than the academic stuff I’m usually buried in.

I’m also really enjoying getting to know London, and digging out all the interesting things there are to do here. My boyfriend often asks me how I manage to find all the things we check outphotographic treasure hunts, interactive theatre, art galleries, bars with secret passage ways.

And yoga. It’s clichéd, but it relaxes me, keeps me fit and keeps my bad neck (from too much time sitting in front of a computer) in proper alignment.

Because most bloggers write about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out posts on, for example, mag-world musings or the happenings on your favourite TV show (you and I both share a penchant for Gossip Girl) and the like, as previously you would have done those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

Because I write for a living, one thing I’m very careful to do is keep blogging a pleasure. The main way I do this is by writing when I’m feeling inspired: if the writing doesn’t flow easily, blogging starts to feel like an obligation… and while I have no concrete evidence of this, I suspect it makes the posts less interesting to read, too. If I’m not feeling inspired and haven’t updated much that week, I’ll try to find something else around the net that I think will be of interest to my audience and share that with them instead.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Don’t feel like you have to get it right immediately. Sure, the internet sticks around forever, so you want to think before you post, but blogging is something you learn by doing just like anything else, and chances are it will take you a while to find your best blogging voice. (It took me a while, and I’d been writing on the net for nearly 10 years and writing professionally for three when I started. And I’m still learning.) Experiment until you find that perfect intersection of what you love, what feels authentic for you, and what people respond to.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

I’d like to just keep on doing what I do now, only on a bigger and better level, with all the aspects of my work (journalism, blogging, books) feeding into one another.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman].