I don’t know everything about the freelance writing business, and I’d imagine I’ll learn more as I go. I will say that I am frustrated by how often people who ask for writers are really asking for viral markets or warm bodies to traffic their website. When I run into these ads I find myself thinking about the easy money and then, I have this creepy tinge of guilt creep up my neck.
It is a double-edged sword. The web is subsistent on advertising to make its money and the advertisers are looking for traffic. I’m aware of this. I was watching a program on the Science Channel the other day about the history of Google. They stole the original model for net advertising from the guy who made GoTo.com (now sold to Yahoo!) by bringing up search results based on advertisers paying for rank. Google did not abandon their famous algorithm once they took on search advertising and paid off the originator
of the idea with stock, but rather displayed advertisements in a separate area. The point is that Google did not make money by abandoning delivering relevant and helpful content to people.
As a nerd who has been on the Internet since the age of ten, I hate the idea of spamming or corrupting the free exchange of ideas with shady traffic deals. As more and more people try to make money from the Internet, the more I run into ad clogged sites that have more relevant keywords than information. For me, it’s a real conundrum. I can contribute to this. Sometimes to make money and you have to clog the tubes. I do, to a certain extent, not every article I write is Britannica worthy. Sometimes fluff is what the doctor ordered, but I don’t feel great about it.
I find myself having to self-promote. I have always been a under confident bookish girl, so it’s really hard for me. I wonder about becoming one of these manipulators of the system. It would be so much easier to take up the secretive scamming jobs. Running up traffic numbers, posting reviews for items I’ve never bought, tainting Digg by working in a viral marketing group, selling articles that I know are stolen from someone else, or paying foreign writers to rewrite content for me would be easy, but I just can’t do it.
I love the Internet. It’s culture, good or bad, is the culture of my generation. I know it makes me an idealistic (and probably unsuccessful) person, but I can’t knowingly mislead people. Sigh. I just want to express myself.