I’ve been writing for AOL on WalletPop (consumer finance site) and BloggingStocks (public company analysis and news site) since December and it’s been fun. Word came down today that there are big (hopefully temporary) budget cuts and everyone is to stop blogging immediately. I toyed with the idea of writing about it here, but wasn’t sure if that was okay or not…
Well… several people apparently talked to TechCrunch about it and they’ve reported it, so I see no need to hold my tongue. Here’s what TechCrunch had to say:
AOL is making across the board budget cuts on its blogging properties, we’re hearing from multiple sources. The cuts range up to 25% of each properties total budget, which falls mostly on personnel costs – bloggers are simply being told to take a couple of weeks off for now, and there may or may not be work for them later in August.
Another explanation for the cuts, says one source: this is standard Q3 belt tightening. The blog properties were simply running way over budget and needed to be pruned to keep things under control. In addition to looking for a buyer, AOL is also concerned about the economy in general and trying to stay ahead of the curve to avoid more painful cuts down the road.
I don’t have a problem with budget cuts in general. I have a problem with how they’re handled. For starters, why the emergency order today? Management had no advance thoughts about the budget so a better plan could be made? Had these cuts been discussed a couple of weeks ago, instead of stopping all writing on an emergency basis, we could have done a reduced schedule for two or three weeks to control costs.
Even worse is the concept of a complete halt to blogging at several of the blogs. Take WalletPop, for example. Just a couple of weeks ago, we rolled out the “new WalletPop,” which went from simply a blog to a complete personal finance site. How will these budget cuts affect the new site?
At some blogs, everyone is being told to trim a certain percentage off their posting. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Let’s think about this. First, let’s tell the bad bloggers (yes, we have some) that they are done. Why keep them when they produce crap? If we don’t have the money, then quit paying the sucky bloggers.
Next, evaluate the rest of the bloggers and decide which topics need how much coverage. Assign writing accordingly.
The lack of strategy behind decisions annoys me to no end. And it ends up hurting people who rely on their blogging jobs with AOL. I have a day job and do the blogging as a freelance thing. If my income from AOL varies it’s not a big deal. Other bloggers write for AOL as their primary source of income. I don’t think they have the option of not paying rent or not eating because of poor planning and poor execution of emergency budget measures at AOL.