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Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free

31 August 2015

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Emilie and I wrote a piece for Puck Daddy’s A to Z series.

This is somewhat out of character for me lately. This blog was featured on Puck Daddy several years ago when college hockey had more of a place on the site. However, I’ve grown a bit disillusioned with PD over the years as it has grown smarmier and smarmier (especially in the comments) and I stopped giving the site my clicks. Why then would I give my hard work away for free to a for-profit site I don’t particularly like?

Why, indeed. I did because a friend needed help. That’s it. I felt apprehensive even after turning it in, especially when I read some of the other posts and saw they were written by women who actually blog for their teams. I felt like I was cheapening the work of some of the other women.

I also felt a bit like I was contributing to something I didn’t like. The entire A to Z series was written by women, and edited by a woman. This is great, in theory. But because for some teams (like the Wild), they had to stretch to find a woman who could do the post. (In the Wild’s case, Emilie is more than qualified, having written for Hockey Wilderness and for WildXtra, but she wasn’t able to commit the time to write the whole thing.) Women (and minorities) are often treated as tokens, or as affirmative action hires who took a job away from a more qualified person (aka a white male). When some of the writers (like me) were shoehorned in to round out the slate, it looked like we were all tokens.

Writing for free isn’t something I like to do. I do it here, because this is my own site, for my own entertainment. I don’t even write for free here. I pay a small annual fee for the domain name, and I am stuck having WordPress run ads on the site (I will probably pay the extra fee to have those removed once I graduate and have a real job.) But I decided a few years ago that I wouldn’t write for free on for-profit sites anymore. “Exposure” is not currency. Exposure has no value to me, because I don’t want to write for a living. I write for fun. Exposure has no value to me because I don’t run ads on my site or get paid for click-throughs or anything like that. Exposure has no value to me because it doesn’t really work. I didn’t see a jump in traffic (thank goodness, I didn’t want much of a jump, you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than the comments of a PD piece) and it didn’t have much of a social media reach. (I also didn’t promote it much, and it got published on a weekend afternoon, which is a dead zone for blogs.)

You get what you pay for with writers who write for free. (Well, in my case, I am amazing and this site is free because I am magnanimous, not because I am a poor writer.) You either get the same old clickbait crap, or you get articles riddled with spelling, grammar, and content errors, or, if you’re lucky, you get good writers who don’t know how to ask for money (or are afraid to ask for it, because they don’t want to lose the opportunity to someone who will do it for free).

I know this is burying the lede, but from here on down is the important part of the post.

Zoe, a Philadelphia-based writer and sports aficionado, wants to find those good writers who deserve to be paid, as well as good writers who are paid but who really want to write about topics that don’t “sell,” and she wants to pay them. Zoe has started The Victory Press, and I’ll give you her elevator pitch: “I plan to build a site that publishes regular, dedicated women’s sports coverage and compensates its writers for the many hours of original reporting that goes into covering women’s sports, since other news outlets do not provide this coverage.”

Revolutionary. Paying good writers to write good stories. I am so excited for this site! Everyone should be excited! Finally a place for us to read stories about women’s hockey from people who actually care about the sport, not grudging blips from male beat writers when some woman has done something so phenomenal they simply can’t be ignored. (See Dan Barreiro trying to tell me he covers Gopher women’s hockey all the time, as if I am not a former listener who knows lip service when she sees it, but let’s leave the toy box again.)

You can help get this site off the ground, too! Zoe has started an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, with a transparent, detailed list of what’s needed to get the site running and what costs will be incurred. The page could basically be held up as a template for how everyone should go about crowd-funding (and what potential funders should expect to see; usually we see grifters shouting GIMME MONEY and then faffing around with their vanity project, accomplishing precious little.)

Support The Victory Press! Support good writing by compensated, accountable writers! Support the rise to prominence of women’s professional and amateur hockey! I already know you like good writing and women’s hockey, because you read RWD!

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