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Posted: 06.09.2003
Do you want more money? Sure! We all do!
Back at the end of December, I blogged about Andrew Sullivan begging for cash to run his blog. In one week, he raised $79,020. Yep, that's right -- SEVENTY NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS and some change. His "salary" for blogging, if you will.

But apparently, that's no longer good enough. Less than six months later, he's at it again. Michele gives a side-by-side comparison of why her blog gives more bang for the buck than Andrew's. I couldn't agree with her more.

Poor Andrew posts around the clock, seven days a week. Me, too. Poor Andrew has an overflowing inbox. Me, too. Poor Andrew doesn't have a regular income. Me, too. Poor Andrew has massive bandwidth usage. Shocker -- me, too. But "Poor Andrew" also made more in the last six months with his last little fundraiser than we both make in a year combined.

"I need a salary of sorts." Don't we all brother. Don't we all...

Might I suggest nixing the fundraiser and just moving over to Hosting Matters like the rest of us, Mr. Sullivan. They can offer customized hosting plans with unlimited bandwidth -- even dedicated servers -- and I can personally guarantee you that you won't need 4000 subscribers at $20/pop to pay for one. Skip a dinner at Olive Garden each month, and you're covered. Seriously.

Dumbass. Oh crap. I said that outloud again. Bad Robyn! Bad, bad!

Hey boy take a look at me...let me dirty up your mind...

Wow. I cannot believe that. How did he trick so many people to give him all that money? I thought about asking a million people for $1.00 each, but I don't think that will work. Guess I'll keep trudging along working my minimum wage job, and blowing it on college tuition.

¤ ¤ credit: Douglas | 06.09.03 at 10:21 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

All I can say is that I hope this doesn't become a trend. So many top-notch bloggers out there that I'd be willing to subscribe to, so little cash to do it with.

¤ ¤ credit: a different Bill | 06.09.03 at 10:24 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I say if he can get people to pay him for what he does, more power to him. Sounds like free enterprise at its very best if you ask me. If I thought people would pay me that kind of money to blog, I'd quit my job tomorrow and start typing my happy ass off. But I know they wont, so I don't try. I'll never fault anyone for using their talents and ambition to make buttloads of money.

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.09.03 at 10:48 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Dave, would you feel the same if I started charging for $20 memberships tomorrow?

In this blogging world, when I raise money for a friend in need and charity -- I'm a "whore". Mr. Sullivan is "enterprise at its very best".

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.09.03 at 10:53 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Hmmm....I don't know - I feel a bit mixed about this. Yeah, he can ask and they can give. No one is forcing anyone to give, but in the same sense. There are reasonable hosting companies with reasonable prices - heck there are even free hosting companies. At the same time, after making more than I do in an entire year - you'd think the money would have been used wisely (not saying it wasn't) - am I rambling here? I just feel mixed. I don't blog to be paid - it is my hobby, my journal, my forum - my outlet. Ok I'll end this rambling.....

¤ ¤ credit: jewdez | 06.09.03 at 10:56 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Dude, he queried me just last week on switching over to Hostmatters. Ask me how much we charge for bandwidth overages...go on, ask me...

¤ ¤ credit: Sekimori | 06.09.03 at 11:05 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Um, hang on a second-- **I** never called you a whore, Robyn. You'll need to take that up with the people who did. I think you've done some very admirable things through your blog.

But yes, I'd feel the exact same way. If you thought people would pay you to read your blog, especially enough people to pay you a handsome salary, I wouldnt fault you for it at all. I, along with all your other readers, would simply have to decide if I was willing to pay for it or not.

It's just two different ways of looking at blogging, I suppose. I don't know what all your reasons for blogging are, but apparently one of Andrew's main reasons is to make money. If he views it as a job and a source of revenue and not a hobby, that's his business. I don't (and wouldn't) do my job for free, although there's nothing precluding other folks from doing it for free, should they so desire. To each his own.

Maybe I'm just a greedy bastard, but the way I see it, if you can get paid assloads of money for doing what you love, you're crazy not to.

Note from Robyn: Never meant to insinuate you did call me as such. That's why it read "in this blogging world". It's just a general sentiment that's always been "out there".

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.09.03 at 11:10 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

*raises hand* Oooh! Mr. Kott-ah!

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.09.03 at 11:11 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

someone needs to drop the IRS a line. =]

¤ ¤ credit: jay | 06.09.03 at 11:26 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

It's always about money. Everything. It makes me sick already. Is anyone ever motivated by anything else? Oh yeah, power. I forgot.

¤ ¤ credit: Hondo | 06.09.03 at 11:30 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I don't mind people asking for donations, but raising close to $80K and then asking again 6 months later is wrong. If he wants to earn money then he should just permanently have a subscriber fee for certain sections and not make it sound like a donation drive.

When you make it sound like "poor Andrew needs funds to keep his blog going" and then we find out he gets $80K and then asks again in 6 months, he looks like an asshole.

How on earth did we ever find out his first drive made $80K? I sure as hell wouldn't have announced it to the world.

I just can't wait for Boobies 2003 - I'm gettin' the camera ready .....

¤ ¤ credit: Jessica Parker | 06.09.03 at 11:31 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Ex-actly! And he blogged/bragged about raising that amount here (entry title "The Results").

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.09.03 at 11:39 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

The Lord told me that if I don't raise $80k in a week, he'll take me from here. Then I told Him that wasn't such a bad idea, that heaven's probably a better place and well worth skipping the cash for. Now He won't return my calls...

¤ ¤ credit: Matt | 06.09.03 at 11:40 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I'd be interest to see the breakdown of his blogging expenses vs. how much was "salary". If it turns out that the true expenses were relatively low, then there may be something to the argument that he shouldn't have presented it as a "need". Or maybe not. I dunno.

His exact words were "I need a salary of sorts; and although we've done all we can to keep expenses low, we're still hard-put to make it to the end of the year without your support."

I guess it depends on how you define "need". Mr. Sullivan is well within his rights to say to himself "Based on my own opinion of my talents and moneymaking potential, I *need* to make $79K off this blogging thing to justify it, or else I should spend that time doing something more productive."

Still, if (and I'm speculating) only 1K of the 80K he raised went towards real expenses to run the blog, he probably shouldnt present it as "without your help we cant keep it going". He should just start limiting what he offers for free, and offering premium content to people willing to pay. Sort of like Salon.com did. Then again, they're about to go belly-up, so maybe that plan doesnt work too well.

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.09.03 at 11:41 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I read Andrew's blog, but I have no intentions of sending him a dime. He raised $80K six months ago. Thus I think it's irreprehensible of him to be asking his readership for more money so soon. Thus I think it's irreprehensible of him to be asking his readership for more money so soon. Even with paying for hosting expenses and having a part time assistant, the $80K raised should be enough to carry him for a year. If he really needs additional funding to run his blog, then I suggest he post corporate advertising on his blog.

¤ ¤ credit: Ursula | 06.09.03 at 11:59 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Did I miss something? Chris Pirillo offers a document to learn about 'how to get more traffic on your blog' for $10, another one asks for money...
Did I really misunderstood the possible reasons to create a blog?

It's ok for someone who's running a good blog to ask for money when he's in a bad situation - but to run a blog to get money is wrong. (except for charity donations)

Just my 2 cents.

¤ ¤ credit: Sascha/SRH | 06.10.03 at 06:33 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I think the difference in Pirillo offering a document for $10 is that he's doing it within the confines of his business, Lockergnome.

I guess there's just going to be a rift in the blogging world soon -- those with regular content, and those with for-pay content. Like it or not (and the road seems very divided) others seem to be steering it in that direction.

In my opinion, I wouldn't charge you to read my paper-journal, so why would I charge you here? If I did, it would be called writing my memoirs... Journal content tends to be sold after ones death. And thus, can you really call pay-per-blogging..."blogging"?

In this case, Mr. Sullivan is presenting himself as a currently-free media outlet. With several hundred thousand of similar 'outlets' out there for free (amateur and professional), I hope he's got really great marketing skills if he does take it for-pay.

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.10.03 at 07:28 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I really have no problem with Andrew asking for money, per se. Many bloggers, including myself, have tip jars and wishlists. Also, Andrew;s site is still free - he is not saying you *have* to pay in order to read.

What I took issue with is the fact that he raised 80k six months ago and he's at it again. I thought the timing was not right, and it seemed downright greedy to me.

If people can make money off of blogging, that's great. But don't overdo it, you know? I read Andrew daily - I gave him ten bucks last time out. But there's no way I'm supporting this go-round.

¤ ¤ credit: michele | 06.10.03 at 08:14 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I think asking for tips -- and asking for an income -- are two totally different things.

And true, he wasn't saying you have to pay in order to read -- but this didn't slip by me either -- "then that's why we will always keep the site free for general access".

General access. I guess the rest will be 'Total Fark', and soon you'll have to pony up for the Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring... And we all know that the only thing you get at the end is a crummy commercial.

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.10.03 at 08:23 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Sascha said: but to run a blog to get money is wrong.


Why is running a blog for money any different than doing anything else for money?

I'm also not sure I can get into the whole argument that "he just got $80,000 so it's too soon to ask for more, he doesn't need that much". That's for the market to determine, really. It's all supply and demand. He'll get as much as people are willing to pay him, and not a penny more. If he can raise $80K every week by blogging, then he should do that. I would.

It's not about how much he "needs". Kobe Bryant doesn't "need" zillions of dollars for playing basketball. Jim Carrey doesn't "need" forty million dollars per movie. Hell, my wife and I probably dont "need" all of what we make, given that a lot of families get by on a lot less. But that's what we can get for our services in the marketplace, so that's what we take. Viva la Capitalism, baby.

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.10.03 at 08:35 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

All good points, Dave, but it still plays as greedy, failing abysmally in the Marketing Department.

¤ ¤ credit: Sekimori | 06.10.03 at 08:47 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

That is yet to be determined, Seki. Let's see how much money he makes this time. :)

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.10.03 at 08:49 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

They say you get what you pay for. Quite frankly, after reading his blog, I can't see anything worth paying for.

¤ ¤ credit: Hondo | 06.10.03 at 08:50 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Sullivan is a credentialed journalist with name recognition and an established publishing history. He's a writer. He makes his living by writing. He's admitting that he's spending more time writing his blog than he anticipated; that means he's not able to write for pay at other publications as often as he did. It seems to me he's replacing one revenue stream with another. He's a writer who wants to get paid for writing. As a freelance writer myself, I don't have a problem with that.

I'm tired of being expected to be thankful for $.50 per word from publishers. Maybe people like Sullivan will raise the pay scale for all writers: "why should I write for you for a pittance when I can publish this on my own site for much more?"

If the people who frequent his site want to keep reading, they'll pony up. I happen to disagree with just about everything the guy says, except for his gay rights issues stuff. I won't be contributing.

There's no reason blogging can't be a paid career. In fact, it sounds like an ideal career to me!

That said, my site is a hobby and I have no intentions of changing it.

[shameless fundraising]
But if you want to sponsor me in my American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraising effort, I'd love your help! Current total: $130!

[/shameless fundraising]

¤ ¤ credit: bhw | 06.10.03 at 10:02 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Exactly, bhw. I think that's a point that's been missed in a lot of the debate over this. Most bloggers are hobbyists or people looking for a creative outlet. Or attention. Or whatever people blog for. For Sullivan, it's an extension of his profession- another channel to publish his writing for pay. If he can't make what he thinks his skills are worth through the efforts he puts into his blog, then logically, he should stop blogging and do something more lucrative with those hours.

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.10.03 at 10:29 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Right. Sullivan is now a writer and a publisher. He's circumventing the traditional publishing outlets and is providing his product directly to his customers. But he's not charging for it: the fee is optional. It's his content and his alone that people are coming to see -- 5000 of those people think the content is worth paying for.

I really don't see the problem.

¤ ¤ credit: bhw | 06.10.03 at 10:50 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I frankly don't care either way, as I don't care about Sullivan and he has no bearing on my life. If he wants to ask people for money and people want to give it to him, then it's a match made in heaven. The only part that seems a little off-kilter to me is the statement that bhw made: "He's admitting that he's spending more time writing his blog than he anticipated; that means he's not able to write for pay at other publications as often as he did." That's a choice HE made, and while I still don't have a problem with him asking for money, I can't sympathize with him expecting the money, if that is the case. One should not expect others to subsidize them because they choose to do something that is unpaid instead of pursuing available, compensated avenues.

That being said, if anyone wants to give me a 10-spot, fire me an email and we'll set it up. I accept Paypal...


¤ ¤ credit: Matt | 06.10.03 at 12:28 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

That's disgusting, no one deserves money less than Michele.

¤ ¤ credit: Zorbs | 06.10.03 at 12:53 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

This guy is a genius. Pure. Genius. I probably wouldn't do it myself b/c I am poor and I understand that other people are poor. Besides, if too many blogs become "subscription", then the blogging trend would blow up in smoke, and there would be nothing left for me to feed off of. :-) But it is kind of genius in a sick way.

¤ ¤ credit: Rachel May | 06.10.03 at 03:03 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I wouldn't worry about too many blogs charging their readers, Rachel. There are VERY few blogs that people would actually pay to read. There might be a market for other professional journalists and authors like Sullivan, but not for very many other people.

¤ ¤ credit: dave | 06.10.03 at 03:09 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

True, Dave. I know people wouldn't pay to read MY blog. In fact, I would probably have to pay someone to read mine. :-) Just kidding. But I do agree that something like that probably wouldn't happen. I was just being my worst-case-scenario self.

¤ ¤ credit: Rachel May | 06.10.03 at 03:20 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Matt said:

One should not expect others to subsidize them because they choose to do something that is unpaid instead of pursuing available, compensated avenues.

First, he doesn't seem to expect anything. He's asking, and people are paying. In the thousands. Clearly he can be paid for what he does. And the site remains free to all users.

I think the point is that he's *making* blogging an available, compensated avenue. It hasn't been, but he wants it to be. Have all revenue generating businesses been invented? Must we stop at what's already out there? Why can't blogging become an income stream? This is just another opportunity for writers to find a new market and a new way to get paid for what they do.

I'm sure Sullivan started his blog as a marketing tool: to gain a broader readership, which he would then parlay into more money for traditional [online and print] writing gigs, like newspapers, journals, etc., as well bigger sales of his books. Basically, it was an inexpensive way of promoting himself. Now the thing has taken on a life of its own and he wants to make money off of it.

He's actually creating a better market for freelance writers in general, not just himself.

BTW, I'm a liberal, quite liberal in fact. But I believe in the law of supply and demand. And Sullivan has proven that there is a demand for his writing.

How is what he's doing any worse than the tip jars I see on blogs that are obviously someone's *hobby* as opposed to their profession?

¤ ¤ credit: bhw | 06.10.03 at 04:20 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

He's starting to sound like a PBS station.

¤ ¤ credit: Zuly | 06.10.03 at 04:21 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

It's just that the way that phrase I quoted from you sounded, that it seemed like he was trying to justify why he was doing it. If he's just asking for the pure heck of it, there really shouldn't be any need to justify anything. But at some point I have to kind of wonder if he planned to do a six week cycle for this thing all along, and if so, it's at the very least impolite to not mention that at the outset. I'm sure many of the donors wouldn't have given, or at least, given as much as they did, had they known this was going to become a recurring feature.

Like I said, it doesn't bother me that he's doing it, I consider myself fairly "liberal" as well, but in life, you gotta get what you can when you can, from anyone willing to give it to you, and I won't begrudge anyone from doing just that. If I could find the right niche to inspire folks to fork out funds, I'd cancel my job interview for tomorrow morning and sleep in, but I just don't agree with the line of thinking that "Well, I used to have this paid job, but I've been doing this fun thing on the side, and the fun thing is more appealing than the paid thing, so I deserve to be paid for the fun thing I'd been doing for free previously." But if his thought process is "Hey, I'm going to ask for cash to see who will pay me" or even "Let's see how many suckers out there are willing to give me money because I asked," that's fine...it's up to the possessor of the money to decide if it's a reasonable thing to do, for them

and I'm still accepting grants and other non-repayable loans :)

¤ ¤ credit: Matt | 06.10.03 at 11:04 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

The question I ask is that if he's such a great writer/journalist, why IS he spending so much time writing for a free blog and not for money elsewhere?

I don't like the whole way he makes it a "donation" and that he needs our "help" to continue. Call it like it is. It's a business. You subscribe for certain features. Don't brag about your income. Even in the real world, people don't walk around going "I make x dollars a year" without coming across as being a tosser.

At least Chris P provides a service and charges for it. You know what you're getting, and you know it's his business. He's not telling you that he can't go on without donations. He's selling a product. If Andrew Sullivan packaged himself as a business and not a charity case, all this might be looked upon differently.

I'll be trying to find money to give to blogrolling and MT before I pay for something like that.

Just my opinion of course.

¤ ¤ credit: Jessica Parker | 06.11.03 at 08:25 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I don't have a problem with Sully beggin. Heck, isn't his site a Holy Grail of sorts on the Internet. Mainstream, successful journalist gets out from under the thumb of corporate media, responsive and accountable to his readers and subscribers?

As a fundraising matter, I can say that

1) The most important gift from a donor is the second, not the first. It establishes a pattern of giving much more likely to sustain itself.

2) If you're going to ask for money, the single most likely group to give it to you is the universe of folks that just *gave* to you.

He's not making it a paysite, and I think I remember a ways back he was paying a staff assistant as well.

We're all free to blog, and free to blog for free. If a few dedicated bloggers out there can make their site their full-time gig - I say more power to 'em. It makes the blog world more effective.

That said, as somone who gave the guy $50 about two years ago - once you see such serious "budget increases" you should also demand a corresponding increase in quality or output.

I don't know that we've seen it.

¤ ¤ credit: Mike Krempasky | 06.14.03 at 02:11 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

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