Apr 262011

To blog or not to blog, that is the question; or more precisely, should you blog for free for AOL Patch?  The San Leandro Patch, like its sister Patch properties all over the country, is out in force today recruiting bloggers.  By one account, each Patch editor is supposed to sign up 5 to 10 bloggers by May 4th.  This is an impressive target for a town like San Leandro, which counts with a total of two non-business blogs run by people not in my household.  But hey, that just means there will be less competition!

The idea of running user blogs is a no brainer for the Patch, which is now run by Ariana Huffington.  Blogs mean free unique content for AOL.  They can place advertisements on these pages and make money (not shared with the blogger) and can also use it to increase their Google ranking if, as suspected, the Patch starts relying more on news aggregation.  But is blogging for the Patch a good deal for a neophyte (or even established) blogger?  It depends on whether you are willing to give up editorial freedom for some help in establishing a readership.

Creating a blog from scratch is pretty easy.  All you have to do is go to a free-blog hosting site such as WordPress or Blogger, sign up, click a few times, enter some information and you are set to go.  With a few more clicks you can link your blog to twitter and facebook (and other social media sites that you may use).  But in order for your blog to be successful, you need to get readers – and that’s where being with Patch may help.  While getting readers to your blog is not difficult, it is time consuming.  You need to advertise yourself, leave comments in other blogs, remind your friends to link to you, etc. etc.  If you blog with Patch, presumably they will post links to your blog postings on their main page and interested people will read you without any work on your part.  This can be particularly valuable if you are not likely to update your blog frequently (more than 2 or 3 times a week) – you don’t have to worry about people forgetting about your blog when you are not posting.  Now, bear in mind that the traffic that Patch is likely to direct to your page is limited, but it will amount to something.

There are, however, some strong reasons why you may want to stay an independent blogger.  For one, by blogging for the Patch, you are basically working for free for a mega-corporation, which will not be inclined to share its profits with you.  Indeed, a number of Huffington Blog bloggers are now suing Huffington for a share of the $315 Million that AOL paid for the Huffington Post.   Working for free is perfectly OK, but there is something distasteful about doing it for someone who can well afford to pay you but just won’t.

More importantly is that by blogging for Patch you are giving up a lot of your editorial control.  Patch has not yet published what their agreement with bloggers will look like, but if you take a look at the Huffington Post user agreement you get an idea of what to expect:  they can terminate your blog or access to the site for any reason at any time without notice and  they can do whatever they want with your material, including re-editing your videos, without sharing any profits with you.  Indeed, I think the threat of editorial control is very real.  Patch editors seem to routinely delete comments they dislike and Kari Hulac, a regional editor for Patch East Bay, privately e-mailed me to threaten to take me off the Patch when I made a comment questioning her truthfulness.  And according to Hulac, an editor will have to approve your post before it’s published in the fist place.

Personally, I’m sticking with WordPress.  At some point I’m hoping that someone will be create a San Leandro news & culture site that will draw postings from the whole community.

  7 Responses to “San Leandro Patch: (Unpaid) Bloggers Wanted”

  1. I am a commentor. I always thought schools, elementary, middle and high schools could help improve students writing skills through creating their own bloggs.I ran the idea passed one of my sons teachers. Maybe the school board could ponder this idea.
    The late Dennis Hopper was known to recruit actors during the hippie era and not pay them. He would give them a place to crash and a bag of weed and figured they would be happy with the deal. Maybe the Patch could take a page from his approach.

    • I was actually thinking, Craig, that doing a Patch blog may be good for you – at least at the beginning. Eventually they’d shut you down, but you could get some postings out of the way at first 🙂
      As for kids, my guess is that most of them already have blogs. Either that, or blogs have become too declase, and are thought to be for old farts like us.

      • That’s a thought, about me blogging. Maybe the schools could form student committees with supervision to develop the blogs since it might be intimidating at first for kids.
        Also check out the interview on Against the Grain on KPFA today it’s archived and even available through Facebook.

        • Well, think about it. If you don’t want to do Patch you can try joining me here. I would like it to be not just me. Other voices would be welcomed. And the offer goes to anyone else as well who has something interesting and coherent to say (that somewhat relates to San Leandro).

          • You might want to do a story on Commercial Property taxes. It’s a scam in California , a big part of the states woes.Lenny Goldberg is doing some good work on the issue. Check out his interview on 4.19.11 on Againstthe grain.org which is archived. He’s on with Jeff Lustig editor of Remaking California.
            He mentions CVS .The place downtown on E14th St. pays about $14,000 a year probably less than some residential property owners. I once saw a high school kid get tackled by an employee outside their store and grind his hace a little into the concrete for shoplifting some candy. The store shoplifts about $30,000 to $40,000 a year from the city and school coffers , yet no politicians talks about the scam.

          • Well, Craig, why don’t you write that story? Go for it!

  2. There’s also a good story in the Bay Guardian this week about how police officers are also working as spies for the FBI.Is this also happening in San Leandro and are they double dipping ang getting paid by both the city and feds?They don’t raise that question in the article but it could be a way to ease the budget problems.

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