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I have kept well away from the cyclical discussions about pay-walls, introductory charges, donation buttons, ad revenues etc.

I simply don’t have the experience of publishing industries necessary to predict the futures of words and images across all media.

It is challenging to say something succinct in a cacophony of well-informed professional and amateur content-providers.

Expect this to be my only comment, here on Prison Photography, about new media and payment for content.

THE BIZARRE HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY OF DOLLARS

Mark Tucker has an excellent post summarising the contradictions of our thinking as regard our willingness to pay for rented, mailed and theatre movies; newspapers and magazines; blogs, websites and email; and cable TV. He doesn’t mention cell phones …

Here’s what he says about blogs:

Blogs/Websites: What if old Rob Haggart or Joerg started charging fifty cents a month to read his excellent blog? Would I pay that? I don’t know — fifty cents is a lot of money! But I know, even a measly fifty cent charge, and my brain would resist it in some small way. Because the internet is free. Imagine how much time he puts into it; imagine how much time the NYTimes puts into their website. We’ll gladly pay a dollar for The Times at a coffeeshop, read two articles, and then throw it away, but no way in hell are those greedy bastards gonna charge me three dollars a month to read it nonstop, 24/7, at the comfort of my own desk. (Why does the brain work this way?)

IF, AND WHEN, IT IS GIVEN AWAY FOR FREE

I recently questioned Jonathan Worth for encouraging people to produce content for free, but only because I think many who were to do so would lose out. Jonathan and I could agree that providing content for free doesn’t always mean not getting paid as it leads to alternative opportunities and intangible benefits.

And yet, all I could worry about were those creators who were not diverse enough to plumb time and effort into an activity that didn’t return immediate funds. I suggested that it was possibly the older, less flexible creators (say those with mortgages) that will suffer most if they embrace the new culture of speculation in the creative market

Jonathan did make the clear distinction between blogging for free and creating (photographing) for free. At least for now the avenues of payment remain distinctly different.

HOW THIS RELATES …

Several friends have suggested I start making use of Google Ad-sense to at least get some money back on Prison Photography but my rapid answer that I never anticipated making money and truly don’t want to, garners only chortles and suspicion.

Maybe I am just a martyr. I feel while photographers should demand standards and rights to secure the best deal, I just don’t think bloggers have the gravitas to expect any monetary return on their efforts. The infrastructure doesn’t exist yet.

If you want to clutter your site with commercials, do it.
If you want to experiment with micro-donation, do it.
If you want to take the time to write about things you care about, do it.
If you want people to read and hear you, make it good.

Anything goes, still. The rules are unwritten.

But, don’t be so arrogant to presume that there is a magical solution to financial sustainability because your blogging activity is well-received.

Most often bloggers are relying on other income or other family members to sustain their activity. Recently, Tom White admitted his wife offers his career security. (You should read Joerg’s response and Tom’s counter response in which he also distinguishes between blogging and photography).

I have always been a firm believer that good quality abides. In the blogging industry (I called it an industry?) we are all newbies. We have come from nothing, we should probably be expected to go back to nothing. But, there is a chance that the good quality stuff will stick around. And, if the creators of the good stuff stick around also, then sustainable means may come to full order.

I’ll wait for any number of alternatives before I rely on the cents from Google Ad-sense.

Quite frankly, the web will be a better place when the mediocre disappears. Blogging is only one part of a digital revolution, or it might just be evolution, but I think the crap will be weeded out.

James Worrell‘s optimism is something I can agree with. Quoting Seth Godin, Worrell iterates that, “Every revolution destroys the average middle first and most savagely.”

What will be left, just might be worth paying for?

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