Payment by Feedback

04Mar14
It’s safe to say I’m not making money out of blogging. Not directly, anyway; it’s given me a chance to polish my writing, which has meant a few freelance opportunities, and I’ve been involved with resources and reviews. But if I was daft enough to compare the time spent with the financial outcome, it would be even worse than my hourly rate teaching. Which is depressing.
Fortunately, I do it for other reasons. I blog (and tweet) to get my own ideas straight. I share resources to help out colleagues, and because their comments help me make the resources better, or use them more effectively. It means I can complain or moan ‘virtually’ and avoid making the staffroom even more depressing and negative than it is already. Despite my black dog, I aim to make sure my posts are fairly positive, and the responses often make me feel better because I’ve helped someone else out. Selfish altruism, as it were.
I know there’s a lot of discussion about putting teaching content online and how it can be profitable – in terms of money, rather than reputation. Some teacher/bloggers have written books. (Maybe some day.) Some become consultants or providers of CPD (Probably not). There are already some ways to get paid for your resources, summarised in this recent post by @teachertoolkit.
I have issues with letting someone else make money from my work. Some websites charge for access, while others eg TES sell advertising based on how many people come to download the resources. I find it interesting that, for example, Guardian Education now have bloggers who don’t get paid but provide content that goes alongside that of their journalists. In my view this is unpaid freelancing and it’s a con. But that’s my view and YMMV. (I wonder how the journalists feel about being replaced by unpaid amateur writers, too…)
I’m not expecting to get paid. If you want to help out, then follow one of my Amazon links next time you shop, which means I get a teeny percentage. Last year this about balanced the cost of my domain fees for my other, slightly dormant site, studenttoolkit.co.uk. I suggested to Has Bean Coffee that it would be great if I could put a button on my site which would let people apply a nominal contribution, perhaps via PayPal, to help me with my coffee habit. They’re looking into it, which is quite cool. Ed Yong used to have a PayPal tips jar on his excellent blog. Charles Stross explains why he doesn’t have a tips jar and what you should do instead; Cory Doctorow has a similar viewpoint. If you really feel that I’ve helped you more than versa vice, then help the BHA give copies of a good book to UK school kids.
But what I really want is feedback.
“Feedback keeps me at my keyboard and off the streets. Trust me, you want that.”
.sig file from my fanfic days
Tell me on Twitter and comment on the original posts. Share your links. Tell me what was good. Tell me what sucked. I hope it doesn’t need to be said that I will never edit comments to change opinions (I reserve the right to correct spelling, because I’m me), nor remove your comment because of your opinions (unless you’re choosing not to listen, eg chiropractors).
These comments not only help me improve my practice (I used ‘reason’ rather than ‘because’ to make PRODME’ after a comment on my last post) but help me show that what I’m doing is helping colleagues. But I’d like to make it more formal.
Over the next few days, I’m going to put together a google form for feedback. I’ll include the link on each teaching post and prominently on my pages. This will let me build up a list of anyone who has found a resource useful, either with colleagues  or students. There will be the option to paste a link to your own post about it, if relevant.
This will take minutes, if that. It won’t cost you any money. And it will include all the evidence I could ever need about the impact I hopefully have outside my own school. If I’m going to use my blog as evidence of my teaching and a record of my CPD (which needs updating), then I might as well get my readers to build me a list of ‘as used in x school’ testimonials.
Thoughts?
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5 Responses to “Payment by Feedback”

  1. Hi Ian. A very interesting read. I aim to continue to offer my resources to anyone and everyone who wants them; for free on my own blog. I have left a more detailed reply on my own blog. Thanks Ross.

    • 2 IanH

      Ross

      I can’t see a way to link directly to your longer response, but for any other readers just scroll down after following this link.

      I hope you didn’t take my comments as a criticism – I simply wanted to contrast different ways to get something (financially or otherwise) from blogging. I don’t have anywhere near the amount of material as you and many others, plus don’t really have the time and inclination to produce such polished resources. I should have been clearer that you were only adding a charge for some new materials, but expected that most readers would follow the link to read your own words (or already keep track of your posts).

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Ian. No offence taken. Reading your blog raised many valid points – especially for me entering uncharted territory. What baffles me more; is schools/teachers pay me for my a % when purchasing my book and speaking at CPD events / bought-out to work with other schools. Why would a document, treated with such disdain by a few, considering man-hours to create a resource exceeded 30+hrs and was explicitly designed to be sold/shared in this way; create such a problem? Part-time teachers do this. Consultancies do this, Web-based resources do this too.

        I am all for a culture of sharing freely. Have been doing so for 20 years in schools and equally, have charged for resources when needed to do so. i.e. creating something explicitly to sell.

        As stated on my blog to the world (a key difference); I think the issue here is a moral one. Teachers pay teachers…. when typically it has been schools-pay-teachers. We all have choices what to share/buy/sell and choose where to purchase these from.

        As an individual, I have always purchased my own resources to help me in the classroom – carried these from school to school – beyond the realms of my own departmental/school budget where the need has extended beyond stipulated priorities and constraints. In most cases these are resources from companies; but I’m certain teachers and many ex-teachers sit behind web-platforms and email-adverts, selling resources…

        Over the past 2 days: what speaks for itself.. is how many teachers do pay for resources created by (specifically) teachers – either from their own pocket – or from school budgets. Here lies the moral issue with many.

  2. I feel awful… as a teacher my instinct is to share resources (even though mine aren’t all that wonderful) but because I work for a private company, the resources I write are not mine to share – they form part of the wider offer we sell to schools and local authorities whose students we teach. Which makes perfect sense, economically, and without it our midget school would probably go under. But it still grieves the “colleague” in me.
    The idea of a “tips jar” is interesting – but I guess the biggest homage to usefulness is when we take ideas and use them, and in so doing spread the benefit.And – then it’s the least common courtesy requires to come and say thank you!
    And – really relieved someone helped you get rid of that pesky B! I played around with the words for a minute or two, but gave up!

    • 5 IanH

      No need to feel bad – different jobs come with different restrictions. Teaching is an interesting one compared to many jobs because we feel ‘ownership’ of the materials we create, even though you could argue that we are being paid to produce them as part of our salary so they ‘belong’ to our schools. In many jobs that is of course the standard approach, but I don’t know how it would work out in court if a school tried to limit what a colleague could do with their materials. It would be hypocritical as most schools seem happy when a newly employed teacher brings a hard drive of resources to share…

      And people do say thank you – which is really encouraging. All I’m thinking about is a way to make it less transient so that I can point to a list during interviews and performance management.


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