What’s Happening To Free Internet Content?

What's Happening To Free Internet Content?The thing about the internet is that sometimes merely saying something, makes it so.

Making proclamations online is therefore a dangerous business. But as you can guess from someone whose day job wouldn’t look out of place in the first chapter of a Kafka novel, I live to take risks, so I’m going to tell you something I’ve observed about the internet lately. And that is that high-quality free internet content is disappearing. Fast.

I first noticed this when US trailblazer The Toast disappeared. I loved The Toast. It was full of really, really clever and funny stuff, like the Hey Ladies series, which was the most brilliant and sardonic takedown of toxic female cliques ever to grace the web. Granted, not everything on The Toast was pure genius, but no publication can hit the high notes 100% of the time (case in point: this blog post. My last few were very popular, whereas I haven’t cracked a single joke in this one yet).

Then I noticed a couple of other literary journal-type sites going dark, or just very, very quiet. Eventually, a post goes up which says, sorry lads; we have other commitments, like paying bills, eating, and not being mentally ill. And another one bites the dust.

There are 2 ways of looking at this. First, one supposes that high quality content isn’t as popular as clickbait or image-based stuff, and will never get the same sort of traction. Perhaps the people who curate this stuff can’t understand why it isn’t popular, and end up getting despondent. Or perhaps they get tired of spending time producing high quality content for little or no reward.

Embed from Getty Images

Another way of looking at it is that perhaps all internet content has a finite shelf life. Nothing lasts forever, and the internet shortens non-infinity faster than you can zip through a piece called 10 Photos Kim Kardashian Doesn’t Want You To See.

But I’m seeing a pattern here. Long-form, high-quality, free internet content is disappearing. Are writers finally taking a stand? Are they saying “No more getting our work for nothing”? Is it that once people have built that mythical platform showcasing their writing, they’re going off to bigger and better things? Or is it that people are thinking “This so-called exposure thing is a complete swizz – I’m getting nothing out of this. Better stop”?

After all, if a Buzzfeed staff writer can reputedly earn an annual salary of $40,976 to tell you that Daniel Radcliffe shares the same face with the fictional character Harry Potter, why would someone bother to earn nothing for writing something which has merit?

I think about this a lot when I’m under pressure. There aren’t 10 contributing editors to this blog, nor does it facilitate internet marketers touting thinly disguised product placement in guest posts. I’m not sitting here sifting through submissions and chuckling to myself thinking, hahaha, totes hilaires, that’s perfect for Thursday. There is only me.

I write all of the content on this blog, excepting the comments (which admittedly can be wittier, smarter and livelier than the blog posts on a frequent basis… FYI: I’m still considering banning all commenters funnier than me).

But I’m also writing a novel, submitting another, co-writing screenplays, reading, maintaining relationships with non-virtual humans, and holding down a full-time day job in an industry as unrelated to creativity as cats are to landscape gardening.

When I look at my to-do list, I often wonder when something’s going to give, and whether or not that thing that gives will be the blog. Although it would probably hurt me more than anybody else. How else am I to fulfil my life’s ambition (taking the piss out of absolutely everything) if not through blogging?

What’s Happening To Free Internet Content?

Having said that, it takes me quite a while to complete a blog post. Nothing you see here gets churned out in twenty minutes, which is why I only post once a week, and sometimes even less frequently. I’m not telling you what I’m thinking right now and how it relates to me because, you know, Me. I try to produce the type of stuff I’d like to read: stuff that’s thought out, structured, properly worded, layered. Just more. By the time images are added, promotion is done through social media and comments are replied to, hours have passed. That may not be sustainable forever.

It seems to me that internet content providers really have to decide what exactly it is that they want to achieve from what they’re doing. I wanted an online profile: now I have one. Bonuses I didn’t anticipate were meeting my screenwriting partner through blogging, and getting introductions to people in publishing I would never have got within an ass’s roar of otherwise. But when or what is that critical point, whereby a blogger already has everything they’re ever going to get from it?

In the meantime, the sort of high-quality free internet content I like appears to be disappearing. Maybe more stuff will rise to take its place. But for now, I’m seeing a pattern of empty space, and not feeling terribly surprised.

What do you think? Are you providing free content online, and loving it? Or is anyone out there getting frustrated? Come on, tell your Auntie Tara. Provider Of Discontented Content Since 2013.



Apparently WordPress have been running ads here which some readers may find offensive. I have no control over it, so I can only suggest that you boycott whatever’s being touted without my (or your) consent. 

  92 comments for “What’s Happening To Free Internet Content?

  1. October 13, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I hope this isn’t your attempt to break bad news to us gently…

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 9:30 am

      I would never break anything gently, Graeme. It’s not in my nature. At least, I’m assuming when the time comes for me to stop blogging I will do it as brutally and ham-handedly as possible.

      Liked by 3 people

      • October 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

        Thank God! I can sleep easier tonight.
        As for the main thrust of your post, I completely get it. Finding time to do everything you feel you should do is really hard. That’s why I’m giving up work next year…

        Liked by 3 people

  2. October 13, 2016 at 8:27 am

    I really feel you, Tara.
    I do provide free content on my blog, and some of it (like say, the New Woman’s New Look series) takes up a lot of time in terms of research, writing, rewriting, polishing, pictures and video research, pictures optimisation, building of the actual post, optimisation of the post and promotion on social media. It is quite the investment of time.
    And not to mention blog maintenance, which is a commitment in itself.
    I keep doing it because I like it. I like get in touch with other people who are as passionate as me about the same things. But yeah, not much else is coming.
    At the moment, I’m fine with it, but as you say, there are so many things going on in our life, that at some point it may not be sustainable anymore. I will regret it horribly, if that time ever comes, but I’m aware it may come indeed.
    I read a lot of marketing stuff. Everbody says you should provide top quality content in order to build a meaningful relationship with your audience.
    My relationship with the readership of my blog is meaningful, no doubt. These people are friends more than they are readers, but that’s part of the thing, right? Mostly, I know every person who comments on my blog, as far as internet allows to know a person. Even after more than 2 years of working at it, the blog is still a personal tool of connection with friends, more than it is an author’s tool to connect with an audience.
    This means that I may keep myself in touch with my friends and keep pursuing an author’s ‘career’, and still decide in any moment that I don’t need to bother with the blog anymore.
    My personal experience is that quality content isn’t at all a guarantee of success and that easy, flussy content isn’t at all a guarantee of success. Sometimes is does look the other way around, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 3 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 9:39 am

      I do love your New Woman’s New Look series, Sarah. And I can imagine how much time that takes. I wonder is it that many blogs today would be better described as websites rather than blogs? It doesn’t make them any better or worse, but web content does take up so much more time than online journaling.
      As for success, we all wait for that tipping point where suddenly things take off in terms of readership. Climbing that hill is often a thankless task.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. October 13, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Blogging, marketing and interacting with virtual friends now means I do next to no novel writing. I sit in my chair all day, drink green tea, and do my thing. Life’s a bitch…

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 13, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Don’t forget the self-loathing, Stevie. I always indulge in a bit of that with my tea, thinking about all the things I’m not writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 13, 2016 at 9:51 am

        Ah yes, self-loathing. That’s good one. My mum keeps giving me fruit cake that her Meals on Wheels people bring round. She doesn’t want it, and I find the tea goes down the little red lane rather better with a slice of it. I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not writing as I bite into another delicious piece. Pretty soon my arse will take on the contours of the chair.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 13, 2016 at 10:40 am

          Very inconsiderate of the chair, Stevie. The least it could do would be to take on the contours of your arse.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. October 13, 2016 at 9:33 am

    What Graeme said

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 13, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Well, for now at least, Kathy, I think all the weird stuff in my head has to go somewhere. If I don’t blog it, I might end up on the news. For all the wrong reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. October 13, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Though am new enough to blogging, I totally get you. I’m trying longform, thought through pieces once a month and even then I can use too much time on things. I try to only work on them outside of book writing hours, but they creep in when life’s too busy to do them on weekends.
    (Also, oddly, I also often don’t have enough time/perspective to get the pieces right too.)
    Realistically this kind of time commitment is not realistic long-term and it will have to give some day. Right now I’ve committed to myself to do it for a year and perhaps to start looking for submissions for the blog too at some point so I’m not on deadline every month.
    You’re totally right about how useful blogging is in terms of building a social media profile and making friends. I’m also learning so much about writing from it – what works, what doesn’t. And for someone who is manages stress and anxiety, doing my monthly blog is a monthly mini experience of coping with the stresses of publishing, both rejection and acceptance.
    Blogging’s invaluable to me… for now.
    And when it’s not invaluable, hopefully I’ll be wise enough to ditch it.
    Nice blog post. Got me thinking, which is a rare but beautiful thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

      It’s the quality that matters to me, Oran. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get really cheesed off that a blog post from someone gushing over their new handbag will get 1,000x the shares of one of our, more wordy, ones. You deserve a shout-out in particular for your Famous Five Go Adventuring With Helicopter Parents post, which had me in danger of requiring incontinence pants. In fact, I’m going to share it here, because it was genius, and a perfect example of why long-form content should be valued more than cat pictures.


      By the way, I have nothing against cats. Just sayin’.


      • October 13, 2016 at 11:25 am

        Ah you’re very kind, thanks Tara!
        I think the short stuff is more immediate so it’s always going to get a quick like than the longer stuff. People are busy. And a couple of mine have been toooooooo long so there’s value in brevity too.
        Look when it comes down to it, we do our longform dance and people can dance along or not, right? We can’t make ’em join in.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 13, 2016 at 11:28 am

          Absolutely true. But sometimes our long form isn’t even that long. It merely has content in it, which is too much when put up against 5 Things Only People Who Are Alive Will Understand. 😉


          • October 13, 2016 at 11:43 am

            5 reasons why your life is passing you by while you read this buzzfeed post

            Liked by 2 people

  6. October 13, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Why am I reading this when I could be monetizing my blog? Why am I commenting with my witty yet somehow profound persona draped across my shoulders? What is this hold you have on me Oh Witchety Woman? I think the answer is you need to generate some glib bollocks. If you need some ideas pop over to my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 11:53 am

      You’re the worst culprit, Geoff. Spreading your witty repartee all over my comments section and threatening my self-importance with your clever rejoinders on a regular basis. If I have a hold on you, why am I not getting any money for it? This is not what they taught me in Pirate School. Sigh. There’s a ‘cut of your glib’ joke in there somewhere, but I’m too jaded to find it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. October 13, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Jane Friedman has a helpful article about if one should write for exposure.

    Besides the blog (where I post three times a week for some absurd reason – okay, I share stories placed on other sites, folklore and mythology research for my work, and whatever else), I also place a couple of stories on Wattpad and INK. Though all of this takes up a lot of time (let’s not get started on the black holes also known as pinterest and twitter), I have found that readers from one site will read work on another. And if blog posts have pictures, they somehow get more clicks… I’ve made a couple of writing friends through my blog (a few of us created a support team to get through NaNoWriMo this year. Ah, yes, I still have to do my prep work…).
    Sometimes I let the ball drop (I’ve only placed one story on Wattpad in the last two months and I’ve been reposting my Saphira stories on INK…) because life.
    Writing more also makes me a better writer. Or perhaps deciding to rewrite an entire trilogy is just a sign that I’ve completely gone mad? No, it’s not the coffee talking.

    I think it all comes down to what you’re willing to do as a writer: gain exposure for your novels by creating free content on your blog or refuse to work for free. I’m sure both paths have their merits. Both are certainly filled with coffee…

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 13, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Agreed, Milady. I think for a lot of people it also depends on other commitments, namely their children or their job. They tend to take over. Seems that very dictatorial children are the worst. Always needing food and sleep and education and other ridiculous luxuries.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. October 13, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I do provide fresh content every 2 days as a labor of love, as I see precious little monetary compensation for my efforts. What can I say, turns out I just don’t like money. Just promise not to tell the missus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Of course you don’t like money, Nicholas. Nobody with 2 butlers, 3 underbutlers, a heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool and a platinum laptop ‘likes’ money. They could never be so crass as to even notice it. I, however, have the manners not to mention that either.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. October 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Ah, the joys of supply and demand. At the moment there is less demand for quality content and more demand for “Remember X from that TV series, you won’t believe what they look like today” posts instead, so quality sites are shutting down as they can’t generate the revenue. Hopefully, everybody will soon get fed up with car-crash browsing and look for something with a bit more soul, leading to a renaissance of smart, funny writing – either that or tastes will become shallower still until we end up only viewing cute cat pictures on Kim Kardashian’s backside beamed directly to our retinas.*
    Please keep blogging, you’re too talented and funny to stop, and face it, you’ll only end up exploding under the pressure of unreleased gags.

    *Apologies for that mental image

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      ‘Car-crash browsing’ – I love that, Dylan, and will be quoting you from here on in. Don’t apologise for the mental image. I’ve imagined a whole lot worse without even being prompted. I hope you are right, that people will eventually get sick of wasting time on contentless clickbait. In the meantime, sorry for the delay in replying, but I’ve been out getting your compliment put on to a T-shirt. And a poster. And a building wrap. Okay. Two building wraps. But that’s it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 13, 2016 at 5:18 pm

        Did you have any particular buildings in mind? *spots Tara measuring up Trinity College and Croke Park*

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

          Well, I said building. I really meant terrace. But you’re right. Croker would do in a pinch.


  10. October 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    The only thing I can say (aside from ‘write on, sister!’…) is that anyone who’s in the indie writing community has to be in it for the love and definitely not the ‘money’.
    Finding the motivation to keep on, keeping on, is hard, especially if you’re multi-tasking too much (aka living a life), so you often end up like Bilbo Baggins – ‘feeling thin and stretched’ way too much across all the venues you think you ought to be seen in. Inevitably something has to give if you’re putting in more than the enjoyment you’re getting out of blogging (or whatever). If it’s a simplish case of time management, then not imposing too draconian a schedule on yourself will suffice. Or take a sabbatical – it’s your time after all and you don’t have to keep doing something for the sake of it.
    Only you can know when it’s time to do a Hobbit-like disappearing act and make the holiday permanent, when things just don’t float your boat anymore. At least you’ll leave good memories behind and not drag things out until you loathe what was once your happy place.
    Of course, for all the fans’ sake, I’d say, ‘pull yourself together, personage, and keep churning it out for us!’. 😛 But I wouldn’t hold anyone for ransom to that. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      I may have to take a sort-of kind-of sabbatical to finish a book, Jan, but I’m not planning anything dramatic just yet. You’re right, though: nothing can be dragged out forever. If JK Rowling was still writing the Harry Potter series today, bet you anything people would say they were sick of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm

        Better to goof off than burn out, hon! Do whatever’s good for you 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  11. October 13, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Is it okay to admit that I don’t think about it? 😀
    Like you, I spend hours preparing posts. Then I spend hours and more hours responding to comments and reading and commenting on posts by the blogging community of which I’m a part. I do no browsing at all unless I need to know something for the WIP like body decomposition rates, how to treat an arrow wound, or how much a pig weighs at a year old. Not high literature. Someday, when I’m a rich a famous author, I will cut way down on blogging to spend more time writing. For now (and probably forever) this works. And I get to laugh. Thanks, Tara.

    Liked by 3 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      I don’t wonder at the hours you spend given how many comments you get, Diana! Sometimes I feel like I’m scrolling down for hours just to get to your comment box 😉 But that’s the curse of being popular. Your browsing self-discipline is more than admirable. If you felt like writing a self-help book on how to do that, it’d be an NYT bestseller!

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm

        I tried to figure out how to move that comment box to the top, but I don’t think I can do it with this old theme. I’ll have to update someday if I can work up the courage. A NYT best seller works for me, but it’s going to have to be fantasy . *Sigh*

        Liked by 1 person

  12. October 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Personally, Tara, I think both your theories are correct and add up to the “disappearing” whole: 1.) high quality content ISN’T as popular as clickbait, and 2.) writers do get tired of producing high quality content for little or no reward.

    I’ve been in the online writing world for almost seven years, and in that time, the ONLY “we can’t pay you but you’ll get exposure” business model that actually proved meritorious was The Huffington Post, where articles published did frequently garner some “up-sell” for me: decent-paying gigs, inclusion in prestigious books, access to other valuable opportunities, etc.

    However, most other free content I’ve written over the years has provided little more than “online real estate” (currency one publisher coined as my “pay”), which offers, yes, the temporary satisfaction of knowing your words are out there, someone’s reading them and, hopefully, enjoying and/or getting something from them, and, of course, you’ve also got another piece to add to your prodigious archive, but… after a while, a writer’s gotta eat an’ all, and who the hell doesn’t want an upward trajectory?!

    As for blogging, I was just thinking yesterday that I seldom publish at my own blog anymore, having little time (marketing and promoting your own books, dammit, is INTERMINABLE!!), and, admittedly, less enthusiasm than I had when I started it seven years ago. The workflow you describe is exactly right, and to do all that well, week after week, takes TIME! Lots of time. And concentration, focus, wit, depth, rinse, repeat, week after week… it’s a lot. And after a while you make choices about where you’ll put that time… and sometimes your “free content” loses to the wheels of needed industry!

    While I’m sure all your readers hope you never go away, IF you go away because you’ve taken all the wit and wisdom you share here and put that into a book you’ve now got to market and promote, I will be cheering you on… and getting to a store to purchase said book. I don’t need no “free content” when work offered merits some good old fashioned commerce!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      I don’t think I’m in danger of going away entirely, Lorraine. Even if I weren’t blogging here, I would surely be annoying people somewhere else. A bookshop would be my preference, obviously!

      As regards the exposure business… the thing that makes me uncomfortable about sites like Huff Post is that if an organisation is making as much money as they do, they should be paying their writers, period. In that instance, I believe it’s exploitative. If a site isn’t making any money, then they’re perfectly justified in not paying anybody who chooses to publish with them, not that anyone would bother taking them to task for it anyway.


      • October 13, 2016 at 5:58 pm

        I’d agree with you without hesitation, Tara, except for this clarification:

        The formula at Huff Post is that they give you a platform as a blogger, to use as you see fit; they don’t hire you as a writer. They don’t give you assignments, you are not in their employ, you can write as much or as little as you like, on any topic you like (though they do have some editorial discretion). In other words, it’s your blog getting the heft of their platform — kind of like renting a high profile space at the most successful farmers market in the world only you don’t have to pay for it. It’s actually been a tremendous boon to my writing career… but only because it’s high profile in ways most sites aren’t.

        I’ve had other, lesser, sites want my work for no pay — even citing the “Huffington Post formula” — and I always say, “but their formula is only palatable to bloggers because it really is the biggest media site on the globe (see Alexa score), whereas you don’t even register.” It is the ONLY place I’d platform off of without cash pay.

        I’ve had this argument with many writers over the years, but for those of us who actually do use the platform Huff Post offers, there is an excellent trade-off. That rarely, if ever, exists with other “exposure” sites.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 13, 2016 at 10:26 pm

          I get that, but it still makes me feel icky! The only thing I like about it is that you’re happy with how it’s worked out for you. The bottom line is that Huff Post still make a lot of money from content they don’t pay for. Whether it’s with willing and savvy participants or not, they created a very lucrative formula that’s being used by other people as an example of why they don’t have to pay for anything. Somewhere along that timeline, writers are getting screwed.

          I’ve done posts elsewhere but never for anyone who made money out of my endeavours. In a farmer’s market, you might have to pay for your stall, but you get every bit of cash that crosses over the table otherwise.


  13. October 13, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I am joint editor of a (print) magazine that we took online in 2011. We provided some free content on the site but to access the whole mag you had to pay. We thought it a good idea as more people may buy the printed mag or perhaps take out online subscriptions. Earlier this year we made all content invisible except to subscribers. On a rare survey we found that the site had loads of throughput but very few were subscribing, rather reading all the free content and then travelling on. If the reason had been that people did not like the mag or were not interested in the genres we produce then that would have been fine but the same mail addresses cropped up each time we updated.
    So the site has been re-modeled and is now subscribers only. Since we did that in April the number of subscribers has trebled.

    Liked by 4 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Now that IS a good news story, Raymond! Glad to hear it. We can say that good content will always rise to the top, and we can say that people should subscribe to it, but unfortunately it doesn’t always hold true. I’m delighted it’s worked for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 13, 2016 at 6:23 pm

        Yes it did work for us but it could have just as easily caused our whole internet enterprise to fail completely. Luck to be honest rather than solid business thinking. Returning to your original comment the decision was money based alone as we all wish food on our tables, wine in our glass, cigarettes dangling precariously from our food bloated, red wine, soaked lips, enlarged bellies and livers but really wish to have a good mag (no matter how low the distribution)

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 13, 2016 at 10:28 pm

          There’s no better advice than the ‘this is what happened even though we were lucky’ advice, as far as I’m concerned! Tried and tested with caveats to boot. If only everything online was like that. Now excuse me while I replenish my ruinously expensive brandy.

          Liked by 1 person

  14. October 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Firstly, apologies for posting twice, but as well as an editor, I am also a writer who does produce free stuff on his websites and blog. My view on this subject as a writer is very different from my view as an editor and I thought I would share it, I hope that no one minds. When I first started a blog, way back in the mists of time, it was badly laid out with little interactive content and generally pretty rubbish (unlike this one) with few followers and it just faded away over time. Later I was instructed to make a new blog and it came with all the bells and whistles yet I still could not get a following. In a final attempt to attract followers I decided to post a story I was writing, in weekly installments, to the blog. I advertised it on every free medium that I could find and the number of followers started to increase and continued to do so with each new post. I wondered if this unusual (at the time) way of gaining followers would result in fewer book sales when it was complete but it seemed to enhance rather than detract from sales. Anyway the point of this comment is to say that I think that there is a place for free content when used wisely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      I don’t mind at all, and this blog isn’t a democracy, so nobody else gets a say-so!

      It’s an excellent point. A lot of mindless content gets posted and promoted intelligently, and a lot of intelligent content gets posted and promoted mindlessly. Still, we’re all learning, every day (and all the better with advice from kind people like yourself who know these things).

      Liked by 1 person

  15. October 13, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I’ve stopped reading the from sites like the Huffington post due to their whole policy of not paying writers more than exposure and believe you me I can tell my personal one-woman boycott must be having an effect. Or at least I think it is. As I said, I don’t read it, so really how would I know?

    Hmm, though you have now made me think about the quality of my content. Perhaps it is time for me to start filming a portion of my dog’s less than graceful trips down the stairs (I’d run out of memory if I filmed them all).

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 13, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Buy more memory, Allie, and go for the dog angle. All this thoughtfulness and grammarlyness is getting us nowhere. It’s time to boycott quality. We need animal pictures, stat.


  16. October 14, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    If you do give up blogging can you send all your followers to my blog? I’ll pay you $0.00014 per follower who follows me. (That’s Zimbabwean dollars, by the way. Last time I looked they’re worth more than the US ones. Honest.)

    My blog is free, but I don’t spend anything like as much time on it because I have a proper job these days that gets in the way, and in prioritising my free time the books and related material came out on top, not the blog. I did start a free magazine, which should have been super duper, but I over reached myself in the graphics department, taught myself InDesign and if the current rate of progress is anything to go by, it’ll be published posthumously. And then there’s the new website and a shed load of images to promote the books . . . producing free stuff is becoming like a crack cocaine habit!

    Anyway, if my experience is anything to go by, free content producers have either starved to death or got a job that pays more than the minimum wage.

    And on the subject of ads, I found one on my site for gambling. I reproduced it in Photoshop, but with a totally different strap-line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 15, 2016 at 10:06 am

      I’ll only send you followers if you promise to feed them, Chris. I don’t want a repeat of what happened when I loaned you my mercenaries. They came back in tears and have been useless in flame wars ever since.

      There has to be happy medium between content provision and earning a living. So many people are diversifying these days I think the era of one full-time job is already over. It’s a pity that the internet side of things is proving to be a zero-hour zero-payment contract so far.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

        I tend to think of my free content as a loss leader to greater riches, but there are limits. I wouldn’t do what I do if I didn’t enjoy.

        And by god, those merceneries were picky, rummaging through the fridge, ‘chicken, is that all you ever eat…’

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 15, 2016 at 10:23 am

          I’m surprised you have the nerve to complain about my poor broken lads after what you did to them with the spatula. The internet has become a cold and brutal place indeed. Time was when people thought nothing of chucking a mercenary a nice piece of raw steak every once in a while.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. October 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    You’re a good one to talk about scrolling down for hours to the comment box!
    One of the key things I love about blogging is the freedom it allows ~ no one bossing you round telling you what to write and what not to write.
    I know there is an element of providing stuff for free but tell me a way to make a few quid and I’ll get cracking on it.
    If you stop blogging, I’ll have to start paying to go to comedy shows!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

      You’re too kind, Jean! I mean that. Way too kind. I’ll start to get all entitled and there’s nothing funny about that.

      And you’re so right about the freedom. I am very conscious of the fact that blogging allows me to publish what nobody else will. Sure, it’d be lovely altogether to have a weekly column in the Irish Times, but it’s not like that’s going to happen in my lifetime.


      • October 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm

        I think you need a place where there’s no editors lurking in the high or low grass so hasten slowly.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. October 15, 2016 at 12:03 am

    the concept of the internet as being a means of information exchange I am afraid is on the wane amidst realisation that a lot of exchange platforms take investment to maintain and that you have to make a way to monetise the content….

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 15, 2016 at 10:17 am

      It’s great that the internet has evolved such a long way from its initial concept, that’s true. I don’t think Tim Berners-Lee foresaw the era of cat pictures, Kardashian apps and websites designed with the express intent of helping people to pass (waste) time at work. But you’re right, magazines were not first designed for free distribution, and the fact that so many websites are now in effect magazines makes the business model untenable.


  19. October 15, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Another great post, Tara. I believe both your theories are accurate. I might also add that saturation might be a part of the issue. There is just so much available these days. I’d never get anything done if I spent all my time reading the free content that looks interesting. I need to get stuff done. As a result, I’ve become very selective about the online content I follow these days. I’m guessing many others are doing the same and that means fewer readers and that could be adding to the writers’ questions of, “Why am I still doing this?” (and for the record, yours is one of the few blogs I click on to read without even scanning the ‘preview’ to see if I’m interested – I know I will be).

    I actually post free content to 3 blogs regularly (and occasional guest posts to other blogs). One is my author blog, and I’m sad to say I don’t post there often. I post most of my author related content once a month to a group blog I’m part of with 7 other authors. What I’ve gained most from that blog is a network of authors – which is invaluable to me. The third blog is a personal blog about my health and fitness journey. I didn’t intend to start it – the very first post I did for it was actually on my author blog. I posted it because I knew if I went ‘public’ I was more inclined to stick with the program I had just started. However, many people loved it and encouraged me to keep blogging about it, so I spun it off to its own blog. I post there once or twice a month, and it’s going on 2 years. When it starts to feel like it’s too much, I remind myself of how it has helped me grow by sharing my struggles with others. Then there are those moments when someone stops me at my gym to tell me they had just binged read my blog and laughed and cried and how much it helped them in their own journey – well, yeah, that’s why I keep doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 15, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      That just goes to show, Carrie – you’ve done the experiment for everyone – every single blog finds its own niche. I’m delighted you found three of them. It won’t stop me getting despondent when a C-list Irish celebrity gets 29,000 hits for a post about how much they love the vacuous thing they’ve just been paid to talk about. But it might stop a lot of us getting despondent in general 😉


  20. October 15, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Yes, I recognize all the issues you mention, Tara. I write everything on my blog by myself. (I gave my staff of crack humorists the decade off.) I spend virtually my entire life working, sleeping, or with my fingers on a keyboard and my nose pressed against a computer screen. I’d hoped that if I put a lot of effort into the quality of my writing, my blog might grow reasonably quickly. In fact it has stayed almost the same size unreasonably stubbornly.

    I proofread everything I write at least ten billion times (conservatively speaking), and yet still constantly find stupid errors (e.g. “50 year’s experience”). I seldom get a full night’s sleep. When I think about my stats and then notice someone else’s twenty-second Youtube clip of their cat falling from a bannister has 2.5 million views, I do feel my lower lip begin to tremble. I find myself increasingly beginning to wonder if the frankly colossal amount of effort I’m making is worth it. In short, I’m feeling a bit glum.

    I hasten to add that I’m not blaming WordPress, the Internet or the world at large for my woes. I’m not sure if the problems stem from my writing, my blogging skills or my expectations (my best guess is all three), but one way or another my problems are my own. Of course, moaning won’t help me. That’s why I’m now going to sit in the corner of a darkened room and sigh for the next couple of hours.

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 15, 2016 at 11:14 pm

      I hate that you’re feeling glum, Bun, because your blog is one of my all-time favourites. It’s bloody hilarious. I think your problem is that you’re funny in more than 2 sentences. It seems like many readers can’t sustain a joke over more than 2 sentences. Because they can’t even. (Finish one sentence)

      I am really surprised to hear that your blog hasn’t been growing lately though, because mine is kind of the same, and I’m wondering if there’s some sort of critical mass for posts over 700 words or so…. weird. Your blog grew a hell of a lot faster than mine, but lately, I haven’t been growing anymore either.

      I think we should stage a revolution. (In 2 sentences or less)

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm

        Thanks, Tara. I feel the same way about your blog. I’ll probably keep on writing because it’s become so much part of my daily routine, I’d miss it if I stopped.

        I’m not very hopeful about expanding my blog anytime soon. I’ve reached a point where I’m kept fully occupied just maintaining things as they are. I feel like one of those plate spinners you used to see years ago on TV variety shows. I spend the bulk of my time rushing from plate to plate giving each one a little more spin. I simply have no free time left over to try setting up new plates.

        There’s probably some fantastic way to use Facebook to lift my blog numbers into the stratosphere. Sadly, I haven’t discovered what this is yet, hence my mighty Facebook following of 14 people. I do a bit better with WordPress followers, but the “bit” in question is not nearly as big a bit as I’d like.

        Oh well, never mind. Enough of this bellyaching! I’m going off to stand in front of the mirror now and practice making happy faces and giving off killer tsunami-sized waves of positivity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 16, 2016 at 11:26 pm

          I just think we’re never happy, Bun. I know we think we want to be stratospheric viral hits, but if any post heads that way, we wonder what we’ve got ourselves into, realising we can’t cope with the volume of traffic, or especially engagement. I’m certainly never happy, but that’s because I tried it once, and I didn’t like it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • October 17, 2016 at 4:56 am

            You may be right, Tara. In any case, I don’t think I’m ever likely to have a viral hit. I’m on my 500th cat, but they always seem to be able to balance on the banister just fine.

            Liked by 1 person

  21. October 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    So much content out there, so little time to read much of it. I have a blog because I like the interactions with others, reading about their lives, the places they stay. My blog gives me a place to write when not engrossed with writing a novel or short story. It provides a place to enthuse about travels and other aspects of my life. Moan about a few things. I’ve never had hordes of followers, but then I don’t follow thousands of others as I don’t have time to read all the links that drop into my mailbox. Video for some has replaced reading – cute animal videos abound – but then so do a raft of highly informative ones. People always chase the new, the innovative, but the tried and tested tends to linger, perhaps not growing in the previous way, but still important to devotees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 16, 2016 at 11:29 pm

      I get phased by the volume of stuff myself, Dorothy, particularly when my favourite bloggers post more often than once a week. I simply don’t have the time to keep up with it. It’s when it eats into my writing time that it becomes apparent that I have a serious problem!


  22. October 16, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Pay me for a recipe and I will be happy. Or will I? My stuff tends to be longer form than a lot of the dross in the recipe world. But, it also tends to be because I ramble. Is it high quality? Perhaps not. Are the recipes worthy. Perhaps. Will anybody pay me for them? Perhaps not. Am I rambling or long form? Damn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 16, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      There’s still a clear market for recipes at least, Conor. What makes yours great is that you weave other things in too and make reading a recipe entertaining as well as informative. And it’s a great example of how even though blogging doesn’t earn money, it can lead to interesting side projects and ultimately, greater things.

      Actually, come to think of it, I hate your blog. It’s far too successful and popular. Stop that immediately.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. armenpogharian
    October 17, 2016 at 2:30 am

    I can relate – at least to the lower frequency aspect if not the high quality. My blog used to feature a series of posts known as Map Monday – yeah I know Monday’s a terrible day to post and alliteration is for amateurs. Any way it featured an interesting map and some witty facts or banter. Okay the latter half of that was purely my opinion. In any event it took a lot of time to assemble. Finally after nearly 100 maps I punted and reduced posts to once a month. It’s still called Map Monday, but it’s only published the first Monday of the month. That said, I’m glad you’re only considering a ban on comments funnier than your blog – so at least I’m safe on that count.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 17, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Here’s the thing, Armen… I can’t see your blog! When you comment here, the linkback on the notification goes to a deleted site. I’ve tried to visit your blog many times before but wasn’t able to find it. I don’t know if there’s a link through your Gravatar but if you want at least 1 more visitor I’d sort out my links if I were you 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Armen Pogharian
        October 17, 2016 at 1:18 pm

        That’s strange. I did switch from wordpress.org to a .com account almost 2 years ago. I think the auto-forwarding is off now. Maybe that’s the problem. Anyway I checked things and they look okay. Thanks for letting me know.

        Liked by 1 person

        • October 17, 2016 at 4:34 pm

          I still can’t see it, Armen. I think it’s more to do with how your Gravatar is set up, unfortunately, but any notifications on comments or likes I get from you only reference the defunct blog.


          • Armen Pogharian
            October 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

            I checked the Gravatar and it looked okay to me. It references the correct page and I think the permissions are correct. I’ll look again.


            • October 17, 2016 at 4:43 pm

              If you want to send me an e-mail (details on my Contact Me page) I can forward you what I’m getting – maybe that’ll help….


              • Armen Pogharian
                October 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm

                Sure that would be great. I just reloaded both my blog and general site pages to my Gravatar profile and saved it. Honestly, it looks the same to me, so I suspect there’s still something screwed up.


  24. October 17, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Are we supposed to get a kick back from writing thousands and thousands of words and giving them away for free? I’m just pleased if somebody reads and comments. Actually, it’s more that I’m displeased when nobody comments, but then I am the queen of invisibility so that in itself is something to be proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 17, 2016 at 9:01 am

      I think if popularity is earned on the net it should be rewarded, yes, Jane. I wasn’t talking about blogs in this piece so much as magazine and literary sites I’ve seen disappear, but I think anything which proves worthy of a large readership and reach/scale should have some consideration in legal sense. It’s what YouTube does successfully, after all. A vlogger can earn a VERY tidy living over there talking nonsense, so why not quality content?

      Your blog is far from invisible, by the way. Even this cynical blogger goes over for a dose of truly, truly beautiful poetry whenever she can.


      • October 17, 2016 at 9:10 am

        The answer is to have the moving pictures with it, of course. Instant easily absorbed fun for free. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll stick to my low key stuff. The initiated know where to find me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  25. October 17, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    I think you answered my question with your reply above. I was going to say about the amount of bloggers I see taking a break/closing down, but a magazine/literary site is so different. A blog can be more of a hobby, whereas surely a site such as the one you speak of is something that people would assume, at some stage, to be monetized and they probably do get to a stage where something has got to give, and the thing that isn’t pulling in the dosh, does. As for your ongoing work on novels and screenplays,yay! (Again, sorry for taking the tone of your blog down!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 18, 2016 at 12:03 am

      Who’s taking the tone of this blog down? That’s my job! How dare you!

      The more I think about it, the more I think that there has to be a new way of blogging – or at least a new platform, just like YouTube. I’d pay WordPress more for site themes if I got a share of whatever they’re pulling in on advertising on the content I produce.


  26. October 20, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    I know I stopped blogging during the summer because it was a case of either finish the book or blog and the book had a deadline!
    I do think your blog has such a great following, it’s important to maintain that but there’s no harm in cutting it down to once a fortnight whenever one of the Big 5 tell you they want your edits done within a month – we’ll forgive you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      I suppose it’s about practicality, and getting priorities right, Lorna. I’ve been meaning to get my priorities right for a few decades now. Perhaps a big book deal is all I’ve been waiting for. Ha!


  27. October 21, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Oh Tara this feels a bit ominous. I really hope you are not giving up on this blog because it is one of my favourite things to read on t’internet! I do wonder about the amount of trash out there that does seem to have quite an audience.
    Having said that, my own life has been a bit hectic for the last couple of months and as such I’m barely managing to put up posts, never mind catch up on others and do all the necessary promotion. I have been tempted to give it a break for a while and who knows, I might soon.
    Do whatever you need to do for you but please check in every so often!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 21, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      I feel like I’ve been messing with people’s heads. (You know I love it, Donna.) But no, there’s no fear of me disappearing any time soon! I mightn’t be around as often while I concentrate more on writing fiction over the next 2 months in particular. But that’s about it. UNTIL I ISSUE THE NEXT POORLY-VEILED THREAT. Kind of. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  28. October 27, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Ah, I knew I should read this one. Life sort of gets in the way of blogging so although, like you, I planned to acquire a media presence and I enjoy blogging, it counts as an indulgence and is the first thing to get parked when real life catches up with me. As I am not providing essential deep reading for anyone I’m learning to relax and drop in when I can. I really enjoy your writing, so I’m afraid you can’t have time off or even get paid… but I will certainly buy your novel, so you can’t relax on that front either.

    Liked by 2 people

    • October 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Sounds like you have your priorities right, Hilary! I like the notion of relaxing and dropping in whenever I can. I have a big writing marathon looming and I feel I’m going to have to pull back a bit, but it’s often in those times that posts come pouring out in a torrent, so who knows? What I’m hoping is that either way, at the end of it, I’ll have produced another novel, and hopefully one that sells!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. November 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I love blogging – without it I wouldn’t have met other writers such as yourself (virtually, anyway). I also know I wouldn’t have half as many people read my books without it. At the same time, it takes time, as you say, and I do have actual books to write, as well as other work and family stuff etc, and blogging (as well as catching up on other blogs) eats into the time I have to do this. At the moment I’m trying to balance everything – will see how long I can do that for…

    Oh, and I miss the Toast! Mallory Ortberg’s Art History series used to make me snort-laugh 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Speaking as somebody who has fallen from a standing-still position in flat shoes, balancing scares me more than most, Helen. And recently I’ve become aware that another thing that’s suffering is my consumption of actual books. That’s what’s starting to bother me most of all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 13, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        Yes. I’ve actually started pulling back some of that time to read, because I really wasn’t doing any (plus I didn’t want to be crushed by my teetering TBR pile in the middle of the night). And I feel your balancing pain. I’m quite good at balancing, until I’m not ;-D


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