As a blog network owner and former blogger for b5media, I have mixed emotions regarding the whole mass firing/restructuring thing. First things first. Firing bloggers with no notice and locking them out of their blogs was a crappy way to reward their loyalty. Some of the bloggers have been with b5 since day one and deserved much better treatment than that. I was beyond pissed when I learned how everyone had been treated.
By now you know it’s likely most, if not all, b5media bloggers are going to lose their jobs as new management spend their newly acquired funding building a content portal geared towards women in their teens and 20’s. I’m not really going to get into that now.
I want to respectfully request b5media bloggers stop and think about what they’re doing. Some are reacting in anger and making questionable choices. I don’t blame you one bit, but I’d like to offer you a few things to think about.
Find New Work
I was publicly called out for suggesting this on Twitter yesterday, but it looks like the existing b5media bloggers are going to need a new gig. Your options are to stick with b5 and hope they’re going to keep you on, which doesn’t seem likely seeing as how they began looking for replacement staff in the beginning of January, or you can take matters into your own hands and find some other work so if you do find yourself locked out of your blog with no notice it’s not such a terrible thing.
Stop Deleting Your Social Networking Accounts
Those Twitter accounts that you’ve been using to build relationships for all these years? Deleting them is like treating dandruff by decapitation. If you start your own new blog or if you find a new gig or if you want to put out feelers for new gigs, you’re going to need all those contacts, friends and followers. Delete the feeds if you don’t want b5media stuff coming through, but keep your Twitter account. You worked too hard to build those relationships.
Think Twice Before Publicly Trashing b5media and Announcing You’re Going to Send Confidential Documents
Look, I know you’re angry but lashing out at b5media isn’t going to do any good. Here’s the thing, many of you have clauses in your contracts preventing you from talking smack about b5. The more you trash them on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, the more you’re setting yourself up for a lawsuit. You may think it might not happen to you, but we’re talking about a company who fired 50 people without warning or giving them a chance to say goodbye to the communities they worked so hard to cultivate. I’m not so sure this is something I’d put to the test.
Also, potential clients might want to give you a Google. If they see you trashing your past and current client they may have second thoughts about hiring you. I’m not a huge fan of burning bridges. In the blogosphere everyone knows everyone and stuff can always come back to haunt you. Please, think about what you’re doing.
Finally, I’d think twice about publicly telling bloggers you’re going to send them confidential documents. If you signed a non-disclose this could be grounds for a lawsuit. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pass along information if that’s what you feel is right, but I’d ix-nay on public disclosures.
b5media Owns the Blogs and Domains…but Check on Your Content
I know this is going to upset this people and I’m sorry because many of you are my friends. However…
b5media owns the blogs and the domains and can do what they like with them. I know you’re all emotionally invested in your blogs. No one knows this more than me. I didn’t leave b5media on bad terms at all, but one of the reasons I stuck with them as long as I did was that I was so emotionally invested in my blog I couldn’t bare to see it go to someone else. It took a while, but I got over it.
b5media isn’t obligated to sell bloggers their blogs or domains. It’s not shady for them to use the content any way they see fit. It’s business. As a business person and blog network owner, I can’t fault them for trying to work the content to the best of their advantage. (My beef is with the slimy way they went about things).
With that said, you might want to ask for your content so you can start your own blogs. Check the date on your agreement because there many be a clause in place saying your can’t post your content elsewhere. However, if you worked with b5Media prior to this, you may be able to take your content with you. Make sure you can though, read your contract thoroughly before requesting content.
Even if you don’t get your content back, start your own blogs anyway. People came to visit you every day so there’s a 99.9% chance they’ll continue to follow you even apart from b5media. You can put up ads and keep all the revenue yourself. Design it however you see fit, post as much or as little as you want and tell everyone you’re in business. If you build it, they will come. It won’t happen over night, but if you put in a good effort, it’ll happen in time.
No Freelance Writing Job is Ever a Sure Thing
b5media is a freelance writing client and they come and go. No freelance gig is ever a sure thing. It sucks and it hurts and I don’t want to minimize that.
Instead of panicking and reacting in anger, take the time to plan a calm, logical strategy. Don’t risk your reputation on a company that showed no regard for the people that built them into what they are today. Take a deep breath, regroup and come back with a vengeance. Get together with some other bloggers and start a network, find new work or start your own blog.
In 2010 the possibilities are endless. You have valuable experience, take it and use it to your advantage.
Deb Ng is founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network.