Friday, 20 February 2009

Three cheers for free

It's a chilly old climate we're living in - and I don't mean the weather. The other day I had a sad little email from a local parenting magazine I occasionally write for; they are calling it a day due to the harsh economic conditions. Meanwhile, at the magazine publishing empire where I once worked, titles are closing left, right and centre, with titles that have been carefully nurtured for 20 odd years unceremoniously consigned to the dustbin.

But there is light at the end of the media tunnel. Online and 'social' media - that's us bloggers too - is flourishing, and advertisers are starting to plough their cash into the internet. And so I was pleased to be asked by a new local website to contribute some of my bloggy musings to their content.

(Well, I think they had to ask me really - the name of the site is

Anyway, if you're a southwest Londoner, take a look, as it's full of useful information for parents about babysitters, birthday parties and even reviews of all the local schools - the sort of information that, if you're me, you never actually know about but pick up from earwigging on other mummies' conversations.

All this is for free - which brings me to another thing I've been writing, an article about free media for an industry magazine. (Bear with may sound dull, but it's actually more interesting than you think).

Think about it. A generation ago, you bought your daily or local newspaper, and that was how you got your news and information. You bought your records in a shop, you paid your TV licence to watch telly.

But now, we are living in a generation that expects everything for free: from free newspapers on the tubes and buses (yes I know much of it is dross, but it's helpful if you've forgotten your book, stops you from having to avoid eye contact with the creepy sales boy opposite) to hundreds of digital channels via Freeview (hurrah for CBeebies - our parents just had Playschool to entertain us with).

You can look at virtually any newspaper online for free. Whether this is good for me is debatable (I'd never buy the Mail, but I sometimes take a guilty peek at their website to get the gossip) but, even so. There are brilliant sites where you can listen to music for free - I listened to the whole of the new Lily Allen album online the other day while working (so if my media feature ends up full of cheeky sexual innuendoes, blame Lily). There's all the video on demand, which is great for entertaining both us and the kids - Littleboy 1 is especially fond of getting me to search YouTube for clips from Madagascar. And, of course, we have all these fantastic blogs to read - so much better than the majority of articles in women's magazines.

Of course, somebody's ultimately paying, usually advertisers, but hey, who cares? Most of us can spot an ad a mile off anyway. So I say a big hurray for free. Let's make the most of it, before someone starts asking us to pay.


Tara@Sticky Figners said...

Unfortunately many newspapers are run by dinosaurs who think print is king and this internet thing is just a passing phase!
I'm so glad I got out when I did - and you are absolutely right in that advertisers are hunting down social media sites now because that is where readers are.
Look at Dooce in America. She reputedly earns $40,000 A MONTH on her blog from adverts!

HomeOfficeMum said...

Congrats on the writing job. Can you tell me which mag is shutting up shop given I work in the parenting sector? Or is it a case of you could tell me but then you'd have to kill me?

Elsie Button said...

Yes, how long will it last? I was gutted that the bbc stopped showing most of their iplayer programmes - namely in the night garden which was a saviour to me at times!

Dumdad said...

I've spent most of my life being a newspaper journalist and so I see the demise of print as somewhat sad. BUT, to be honest, I've now got used to reading newspapers online and only buy one British Sunday newspaper, mostly to remind me of home and to do the crossword (although that can be done online as well). If someone like me, who was addicted to newspapers, is turning away then the game really is up.

Free is always nice, but I suspect that when they've finally junked print they'll start charging for online reading.

Rosie Scribble said...

The internet is great of course but you can't beat the printed word. Congrats on your writing job by the way.

nappy valley girl said...

Tara - well, I allowed ads on my site recently and so far I don't think a single person has clicked through - so it's not as sorted as all that. But in principle, I agree.

Home Office Mum - it's a very local one to here, so not sure you'd know it - but email me if you want to know, as they are a nice bunch and I don't want to give them any bad publicity!

Elsie - stopped showing ITNG? Sacrilege.....I will being having a word with The Doctor's cousin who works on the programme.

Dumdad - you could well be right. Although interesting that some sites that started out that way ARE now free...

Rosie - thanks. (It's less a job as such and more of a link to my site, but good for getting blog traffic!) I agree you can't beat printed word for some things - books primarily, and the Sunday papers - but in reality I don't buy a paper every day now, and I certainly used to....

Potty Mummy said...

Good news about the site NVG, sorry about the magazine - though I think you had seen that coming?

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Well done on the job...Nappy Valley Girl! I guess they will start charging us soon...maybe I am a cynic. Nothing in life is for free!! We still get two lots of newspapers (Sat and Sun). We treasure them. Whilst we were in Egypt we had to hunt them down as they were like gold dust.

I admit I did like reading newspapers online abroad. Again they were a godsend....

NappyValleyNet said...

Thanks for the mention NVG! You're blog is pride of place on the home page. :-)

Interestingly we've had HUGE feedback from local firms wanting to get involved but we've had more success asking them for special offers for our readers (free fairycake at Crumpet anyone?)as opposed to selling ads.

Thanks again!