October 4, 2019

Paying for Atheist Blogs

Dalmatian

Someone who creates content should be compensated for their work. This doesn't seem like it should be a controversial statement, but it is. Maybe you write a blog, run a website, produce YouTube videos, record podcasts, create art, author books, or all of the above. It seems only natural that you'd want to be paid in exchange for your work. This stuff all requires work, and people do not generally work for free. And just because you might create content as a hobby rather than an occupation does not mean you do not incur expenses to do so. Even if you aren't trying to earn a living with your content, some compensation would be nice so that you aren't losing money to do what you are doing.

What about the other side in this squabble? That's easy. Why should I pay for your content when I am used to getting all I want (and more) for free? If you were to put your blog behind a paywall, for example, I'd go elsewhere. That doesn't mean I do not value your content; it means I do not value your content enough to pay for it when there is so much similar content out there for free. I suppose if what you were doing was so unique that I couldn't find it elsewhere and would miss it terribly, that might be a different story. But I think we can agree that this is rarely the case.

When it comes to paying for content, I do pay for that which I value sufficiently and cannot easily find elsewhere. This is why I occasionally buy books, music, and movies. On the other hand, I've never found an atheist blog so unique and irreplaceable that I'd pay for it. If it went behind a paywall, I'd shrug and move on. I've briefly tried a few atheist podcasts over the years before realizing the format holds little appeal. And frankly, I'm not sure I'd be inclined to watch atheist-related YouTube videos if the creators paid me to do so.

But we need to circle back to atheist blogs for a moment because I write one and it is odd that I seem to be suggesting that they aren't worth your hard-earned money. To be clear, I am not claiming they are worthless or that people who want to pay for them should not have a mechanism for doing so. What I am saying is that I do not expect most people to be willing to pay for them, at least not as long as there are so many equally good and free options out there.

If an atheist blogger cannot charge visitors to access his or her content, how is he or she supposed to make a go of it? Short of joining one of those big blog networks that pays well or using one's blog to sell products, I don't see a clear path. As a hobby blogger, I run ads on Atheist Revolution to offset some of my expenses. I do not make any money this way because my yearly expenses usually exceed my ad revenue. I keep the ads because I don't lose as much money with them as I would without them. This may not be ideal, but I've never viewed atheist blogging as a money-making venture.

In the end, I think we should all be okay with content creators asking for financial support. It is our choice whether to provide it. Maybe there is some content we value enough to support. If a creator decides to stop providing free content, we can choose to pay for access or go elsewhere. It makes little sense to me that anyone would get upset when a content creator who provides free content requests financial support from fans. They are merely providing fans with a mechanism to support them if they desire to do so. I see nothing wrong with that.