38 responses

  1. Bruce
    July 20, 2010

    HuffPo gets an estmated 40 million unique vistors per month. The CEO Eric Hippeau recently bragged about how they will turn a profit this year.

    Other popular sites earn appx $1 per unique person per month. And they want us to work for nothing? Wonder if Kate is working for free?

    • Chris
      July 20, 2010

      Bruce – I doubt Kate is working for free. The HuffPo does pay their section editors. Dan Froomkin famously signed on to be Washington editor when the Washington Post axed his blog last year. I’m not sure what the salary structure is over there, but it’s probably pretty good to lure Auletta away from the WSJ (although she was at the magazine, which is probably a more tenuous situation).

      As I said today on Twitter, I think that the section can be used as a tool to promote your own site, increase traffic and get some quality backlinks. If I continue submitting pieces, they’ll be ones that I already wrote for my own blog – which I’m currently doing for free anyway.

      • Gary Arndt
        July 21, 2010

        I’m not sure that a company which provides zero compensation can take the high road and say people can’t take press trips.

      • Chris
        July 21, 2010

        I was surprised by that too, Gary (it came up when I was figuring out what post to send her). Not sure what their reasoning is for it. To me, it should be fine, as long as the post has the proper disclosure. We’ll see if that aspect of the section changes.

      • yves
        August 27, 2010

        Amen to that. I recently pitched a story to a travel magazine (online) and they said they liked it but couldn’t pay. I have a lot of writing experience for top magazines so for it to be worth it for me I have to at least get some of my expenses comped (by the hotels, restaurants, etc. I would cover). I mentioned this and the editor responded with the same rule.

        I get it. They don’t want to appear like they’re taking payolla. But from my perspective it’s turned travel journalism into “user generated content.” Boo on them :(

  2. pam
    July 21, 2010

    According to this little blurb, the HuffPo was valued at 150 million.

    [Link: http://laurelpapworth.com/social-media-revenue-huffington-post-techcrunch-valuations/

    Yes the publication doesn’t pay contributors to this new travel section, nor does it allow them to participate in press trips. My question for Kate Auletta is this: Why?

  3. David Whitley
    July 21, 2010

    OK. So it doesn’t allow press trips, doesn’t pay people for their work and requires all rights to photographs.

    In other news, I am welcoming people who will come and do my housework and filing. They must bring their own cleaning equipment and filing cabinets, which I reserve all rights to keep afterwards, and they will not be allowed to offer their cleaning services elsewhere. They will receive no compensation, and must pay for a taxi to get to my house rather than using subsidised public transport.

    • Lori Henry
      July 29, 2010

      In response to David Whitley: brilliant.

  4. Karen Bryan
    July 21, 2010

    I too very much doubt if the editor is working for no pay. So let me get this straight. HuffPo vet me first, then I pay for my own travel (as HuffPo don’t allow press trips) and write them unique content, give then rights to my photos. Question – how do I live and pay my bills, while HuffPo rake in the ad revenue.

    Best course of action, nobody contribute to HuffPo travel! Yes you’ll get some traffic, but you need a win win situation (which this isn’t), HuffPo is getting your content for free and earning money from this.

    • Chris
      July 22, 2010

      Karen – I mentioned this on Twitter today, but my feeling is that bloggers can experiment with this if they feel it fits their goals. Honestly, my friends who are journalists thought I was crazy for starting a blog a year ago. “You’re giving it away for free,” they told me. And they were right. But when my mainstream media job ended, my blog helped me get my current corporate gig. My daily rate as a professional writer hasn’t changed.

      What does that have to do with HuffPo? Well, I plan on contributing a few posts that I’ve already written (for free) over the next few weeks, just to see if it increases my traffic. If it leads to something new or other opportunities, great. If it doesn’t, then no harm no foul. And I certainly don’t think other people should do it if it doesn’t fit their goals.

  5. JoAnna
    July 21, 2010

    I read this piece yesterday and have been thinking about this all night long. I don’t understand why large, popular websites that should be able to pay, don’t. What is the explanation? And why no press trips?

    • Chris
      July 22, 2010

      JoAnna – Kate never elaborated on the press trip policy in our emails. When she asked me to contribute, I asked her what their policy was, as I abide by the rules of whatever publication runs my work. I was surprised by the answer, and I told her that would limit the amount of posts and topics that I could contribute. She told me that she understood and that I could post as little or as frequently as I wanted. Anyway, that’s as much as I know about the policy. Maybe Kate will elaborate at some point, but for now, she’s probably going crazy with the launch. Dave is correct – I doubt that she’s lacking for copy.

      • JoAnna
        July 26, 2010

        Thanks for the interview and the reply to my comment Chris. I’m going to give it a try. I’m excited to see what direction the publication takes now that it’s opening its doors to travel writers.

  6. Dave from The Longest Way Home
    July 21, 2010

    The answer is: There’s plenty of content out there. And, plenty of non-marketing travel bloggers who’d love to see their names in lights.

    Even more of the marketing bloggers who crave links and publicity. Huffington Post knows this. It’s their business. They will get all the content they want.

    Moreover, after this article, there are already a bevy of people writing up content for them, rest assured.

  7. Jennifer Rudolph
    July 21, 2010

    It’s becoming more and more challenging from a travel PR perspective when confronted with no press trip policies. If stories are about experiencing destinations, how can that best be conveyed with out the writer experiencing it themselves?

    • Chris
      July 22, 2010

      Jennifer – I can see where that would be very challenging for PR practitioners. I came up in the tradition that it’s best to travel anonymously – my Philly Sunday section included restaurant coverage and our staff reviewer always worked diligently to make sure that he wasn’t noticed (it was almost sport among restaurateurs to figure out what he looked like). When I went out on stories for USAT, I never told destinations or hoteliers that I was coming to town. But then, the company paid.

      For freelancers, the model has usually often required visiting the destination on your own dime, then trying to sell stories to as many outlets as possible to cover your costs. That’s not working as well anymore, because fewer outlets are paying enough to do that. Thus the press trip conundrum. It’s forced talented freelance writers to make hard decisions – do they take a press trip and get themselves banned by the NYT and limited in other outlets? Or go on the trip and make sure that your hosts know that certain publications won’t allow you to write about them (which is probably why they invited you in the first place).

      I’m not sure what the solution is. I know that even though I don’t agree with the HuffPo’s press trip policy, I’ll follow it as it pertains to any posts that I give them. And if I accept a trip, I’ll do so by telling the destination that it’s for MY blog and no one else. But then, I travel often enough on my own that I have a backlog of stories I could contribute to any publication that has a press trip ban. Others probably don’t have that luxury.

      Except the NYT, of course. And I already wrote that off a few years ago :)

  8. soultravelers3
    July 21, 2010

    I was wondering when they would add a travel section. I’ve been writing for Huffington Post for a while as does Tim Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau and a few others.

  9. Nomadic Matt
    July 23, 2010

    I recently signed on to write with them. While there’s no money, the traffic value might be worth it (have to see) but the seo value of being able to include a link or two is google gold!

  10. soultravelers3
    July 24, 2010

    Also, I’m not sure how this is different than Tips from the T-list, Bootsnall, Uptake’s Travel Insight 100, Lonely Planet etc where I and many of the above ( and other top travel writers and bloggers) have content that is not paid for.

    Isn’t this just part of the game today?

    Obviously, there are some advantages or there would not be ANY writers on Huffpo.

    Have you seen the latest where Huffpo will take over the NY Times?


    What I love about writing for Huffpo is I can write when I want and put up what I want from my blog. My literary agent thinks it’s fabulous too. My passion is about letting people know that travel doesn’t have to be expensive & that families can do extended travel.

    Re: “If stories are about experiencing destinations, how can that best be conveyed with out the writer experiencing it themselves?”

    Jennifer – I’ve never done a press trip and don’t think one needs to do that to travel ( we’re traveling the world as a family & live large on just 23 dollars a day per person since 2006). I like to choose where I go, when I go, what I do and what I say. I think the massive and ever growing amount of travel blogs has changed the whole press trip area.

    • Sean
      July 29, 2010

      Updated Writers Guidelines from BootsnAll.

      We have been paid and unpaid markets. Paid opportunities have existed for 6 years. Things change SoTrav3!

      I welcome Huffpo into Travel. Let’s get it on!

      • Chris
        July 30, 2010

        Sean –

        Thanks for posting your guidelines here. I’m sure they’ll be helpful to people who are trying to figure out where to place their work (and I love that BootsnAll has done so much for bloggers). I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you at TBEX. Maybe sometime down in Portland our paths will cross.

  11. Pamela Wright
    July 28, 2010

    Just like the newspapers, travel writers now find that the world has changed. Count the number of websites that are shouting about travel writing being an easy way to make money and get your travel paid for. The truth is that the business model has changed drastically. The web doesn’t require “good” writing, just content that is keyword rich. There will be plenty of people writing for HuffPo and to try to boycott it isn’t going to work. Guess it’s time to figure out a new way of earning a living.

  12. Julie Ovenell-Carter
    July 29, 2010

    A few years ago I refused to sign a rights-grabbing contract at a Canadian newspaper that wanted all-rights to my photos and my words in return for a measly $125 cheque. Even so, that company knew when to back off: those writers who *did* sign the contract are still allowed to take press trips.

    HuffPo = all rights + no payment + no press trips. As they used to say on Sesame Street: one of those things just doesn’t belong…

  13. Bob Schulman
    July 29, 2010

    Chris, I wonder if Kate meant she is not allowed to take press trips vs. not accepting stories from sponsored trips.

    • Chris
      July 30, 2010

      Bob, I had asked her before this interview about submitting content from sponsored trips and she told me no. Now that the site is up, it looks to me that some of the stories may have come from press trips (like the one on Necker Island). I will ask her to clarify.

  14. Judy Waytiuk
    July 29, 2010

    No pay, all photo rights, no press trips. Talk about devaluing/screwing/shafting/milking/taking ridiculous advantage of your contributors!
    Yet here we see posts from people who will happily sell themselves for nothing more than hoped-for exposure… well, if I ever want exposure, I’ll drop my drawers on Main Street, thank you very much.

    • Chris
      July 30, 2010

      Judy – Again, I’ll reiterate: it’s up to each writer to decide for themselves what they want to do with their content. Personally, I’m figuring out if HuffPo drives traffic or if it’s a waste of time. So far after three posts, I’m noticing that it does more for my SEO rank (ie, more hits from Google) than direct clicks. And I’m not sure how many people are reading that new section yet, as my most recent post received a lot more referrals from Facebook than HP.

  15. Judy Waytiuk
    July 30, 2010

    Just driving traffic to your site doesn’t strike me as either cost-effective or indirectly revenue-bearing. And your observation about Facebook driving more traffic to you than HP says a great deal, I think.
    You can rationalize about new revenue models and giving away your work for free until the cows come home, bed down, and go into REM sleep– but you’re still giving away what should be bought and paid for.

    • Chris
      July 30, 2010

      Technically, I’m giving away content just by having this blog! Yet I’ve learned things from running it that has helped my career overall. Being a blogger has proven to be a crash course in social media and reader engagement, and I learn new things from it every day. And that’s what I mean about every writer/blogger having different motivations for their actions. HuffPo may not work for you, but for someone like Nomadic Matt who has made a name for himself figuring out the mechanics of SEO, it’s not a bad investment of time. And there’s no denying that HuffPo gets a lot of attention in NYC/mainstream media circles. And it reaches a whole different audience than other travel websites. Some bloggers may want to tap into that.

      I’m not trying to convince anyone to write for them. But I do think it’s unfair to taint all contributors with the same brush, when you don’t know why they are making that choice.

  16. Mark
    August 1, 2010

    We take a certain pride that our Internet-based travel Web site was one of the first back in 1996-97. For a little perspective, Google did not exist then. We were a Yahoo “Cool Site” pick at one point. We keep the site vintage 1996-97 for sentimental reasons.
    Internet access was much different then. We connected in some very unusual places to update our site as we traveled around the United States.
    We were hired by Parent Soup as “travel consultants” and we featured speakers at U.S. Department of Education sponsored conference called, “Families Technology and Education.” http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/eecearchive/books/fte/general/blondin.html
    It has been interesting to watch as the travel sites have grown.

  17. Emilie C. Harting
    August 30, 2012

    I’m curious about the definition of the term “press trip.” Does that mean a group trip with journalists or does it mean any kind of subsidized travel, i.e a media rate?

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