As business models go, ‘getting established, successful people to work for you without paying them’ probably sounds like a wonderful idea. ‘Getting lots of people to work for you without paying them very much, or guaranteeing them any employment rights’, the so-called ‘disruptive’ business model, actually isn’t turning out all that well, though, when it comes to the sort of work that people expect to be paid for.
If you are a smug, entitled, relatively unimaginative dickweed, you might decide that, because the world is allegedly full of desperate wannabe creatives, you can get an awful lot of free labour out of artists, writers, photographers etc by offering them ‘exposure’, you might even be right. Up to a point. You might even not be an exploitative shitbag, if you’re not actively monetizing the site you are asking for contributions to, not making any demands on the people who may want to contribute for the thrill of seeing their work published… But there are ways of making even a scam sound attractive, and then there are ways of, basically, shooting yourself right in the dick.
This has been beautifully demonstrated over the past day or so by a prize asshat allegedly revamping his website (which I’m not going to link to because fuck you, pal – it’s a sort-of sex site/dating site that looks like your bog-standard ‘lure in lonely men with photos of models and bot accounts’).
The magnificently wrong method taken was to email several of the top sex bloggers in the UK and offer them a whole lot of regular work, to be paid in ‘byline credits and exposure’. This is pretty much the equivalent of putting on a music festival in your local park and inviting Beyonce, Coldplay, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga to perform without because it will ‘help showcase your music to local people.’
The asshat then compounded his idiocy by being thoroughly rude to the bloggers who declined – describing them as ‘unproven writers’ and doubting that they made any money off their work anywhere else.
The Stop Working For Free campaign is only one manifestation of the pushback against dumbfucks like the crew behind ShitDatingSite (and, yes, they have been made aware of this story).
Writers, photographers, musicians and artists may well, occasionally, agree to provide one or two pieces of free work to a new startup that they think has potential; fiction writers, in particular, will contribute to an anthology when a royalty share is offered but sales can’t be guaranteed. Paying people with ‘exposure’ when you have fuck all traction of your own is a pisspoor business model that all but the desperate and naive are likely to see right through. We’re all getting wiser and wiser both to greedy bucketheads – and to the fact that a lot of these ‘innovative’ startups crash and burn pretty quickly anyway..
Especially if their starting move is to piss off nearly everyone who matters in the community they want to sell to…