Why you won’t make money writing online
The recent Storyology conference held by the Walkley Foundation in Sydney last week contained unexpected gems of wisdom.
Unexpected because the media industry is in much worse shape than I thought.
Nobody is making money online — not the average middle class professional anyway. With the exception of companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon — and a few technology, food and mommy bloggers — the internet is a money desert.
Sure, you might get offered fifty dollars for an article but it’s more likely you’ll be drip fed advertising copy or the occasional, hopefully syndicated, freelance piece.
While most of us are aware that newspaper revenue has been in sharp decline for years, there was an expectation that online content would provide an income.
This, it turns out, is a myth.
Ali Cromie, formidable warrior woman and former investigative journalist, swept into Day Three of the conference like a tsunami with a sledgehammer. She questioned the male presenters on stage — all self-proclaimed successful “journopreneurs” — about their income from online business.
“How much money do you make?”
None of the journopreneurs would answer. She asked again and they squirmed in their chairs. Finally, two conceded that they earned nothing at all and were unsure if their sites would survive another year.
Ali left a journalism career over 10 years ago to become a financial consultant. She cut through the hype surrounding monetizing content to reveal successful ‘journoprenuers’ are merely inflated egos.
Then there was the appearance of Margot Kingston. Margot was a well known Australian journalist who wrote opinion pieces and released several books. She disappeared from the media quite a few years ago. Burnt out and disillusioned, she retrained as a nurse. That would be the equivalent of Bill Gates sitting in the audience of a technology conference having swapped his career to be a paramedic.
The telecommunication companies who supply broadband connections, modems, and related products are reaping fortunes from us all as we delude ourselves thinking our websites will make money one day.
The desert contains water beneath its sand but thirsty fools never find it.
This is the truth of journalism.
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About the author
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.