Yesterday, Michelle Rafter Tweeted a little gem about the Yahoo-Associated Content deal and AC writers attempting to unionize to have more say post-acquisition.
Say what? Associated Content writers are trying to unionize? Yes. According to the pro-union article (which, ironically, is published on AC), AC writers feel as though they have rights that are being ignored. They also think that they should be at the table for negotiations about what they are going to get out of the deal.
Yes AC writers, you are correct—you do have rights. You have the right to stop writing for AC. You are not an AC employee. You willingly give them your content in exchange for a few pennies and, sorry to break it to you, that does not entitle you to negotiate with Yahoo or any other entity that AC partners with.
But you are also correct when you observe that your rights are being ignored, because they are. But not by AC—your rights are being ignored by YOU. As a self-employed individual, you work for you. YOU are your employer. YOU are the one who decides what “rights” you have and YOU are the one is ignoring your own rights.
This is why, for years now, so many of us have urged you to move away from sites like Demand Studios, AC, HubPages, Helium, etc. They are making an inversely proportionate amount of money from your articles—and you are letting them. By writing for them you encourage this behavior and YOU tell them that it is okay to treat you this way.
No, this isn’t about how the rich just keep getting richer and you are a victim—this is about how YOU as a BUSINESS OWNER are victimizing yourself and looking for a scapegoat. Well go grab a mirror folks, because your scapegoat is you.
And this doesn’t even touch on the completely delusional idea that AC writers even CAN unionize. The post states that they will start working on appointing officers for the union and consider there to be "serious" interest once they reach 5,000 members. 5,000—out of the 380,000 writers who already write for AC. What is that, like 1.5% of the writers? Um… yeah… that sounds like a plan. Give us more money or 1.5% of your writers will leave. Wow. If you got 100% of the writers to leave and made new writers (excited by what they think is a great opportunity to get a byline on Yahoo) to stop signing up you may have some negotiating power—but the thing is—you won’t get that many.
And why is it that you are mad right now? Why is it that for the last few years whenever anyone tried to tell you not to keep letting AC take your work for pennies when you could be making so much more you got angry and defensive and accusatory—but now, all of the sudden, you understand what you’ve done and you want to get what you FINALLY realize that you deserved all along? Well, sorry but this is not a post-nuptial agreement. You gave them the cow and they didn’t buy the milk.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to appreciate this apparently effective wake up call and change your business plan, change your marketing approach, decide what your rights are and commit to ensuring them, and don't stay on the penny writing hamster wheel.