Anyone who’s ever started a blog knows how much work goes into it. The research, the actual writing, taking photos, photo editing, spell checking, fact checking, linking to different sites to make the content more relevant, finding the right featured photos, SEO, post promotion, building a social media following, maintaining a social media following, CMS maintenance, dealing with CPU throttling and other server related issues, brainstorming, solving plugin conflicts, updates, answering e-mails from strangers. It’s not like I type a few random words on my keyboard, click submit and then all of the above somehow magically happens.
I work hard at this blog. So hard in fact that it has sometimes put a strain on my relationship. The boyfriend doesn’t understand how I can spend all this time and effort on something that I have no financial gain from. He supports it because he loves me but he doesn’t understand it.
I do it because I love it. I love knowing that in my own small way I’m a contributing factor in creating fond memories. I love that it challenges me and makes me step out of my comfort zone. I‘m not a video and audio editor or a photographer. Yet because of this blog I take photos, edit videos and put together podcasts. It‘s not perfect but I do it. I love to help small companies that I know are doing brilliant things, for all the right reasons, get known. I do it with a skill set that is the labor of hard work, dedication and passion for what I‘m doing. And the brain I was blessed with of course. I couldn’t do these things any other way because I‘m a shy introvert with social anxieties and a sincere lack of confidence in myself. But words, words I’m good with.
I don’t get paid for what I do. I’m not in this for the money and I feel like there’s a place for a blog like mine that doesn’t try to the exploit the readers or constantly trying to make them buy something . Maybe I’m naive or an idealist but I like to think that the world will grant me something good instead. It already has in many way. I’ve met some interesting people, traveled to faraway places, had amazing experiences and learned a lot. Unfortunately this doesn’t put food on the table. I had a job for the summer and was looking forward to being able to contribute something to the home after living off the boyfriend’s salary for the last year. There was some miscommunication and by the end of June the job was gone. I made some bad decision and trusted the wrong people. I’ll learn from it but it doesn’t change the fact I feel defeated and like I’ve let down the ones I love the most.
For the last few weeks I’ve been at war with a company that took one of my photos and used it in a printed ad in a big brochure here in Iceland that was printed in 106.000 copies. It was taken while I was trying out their services and I told them they could use my material on their social media accounts and their website and expected them to know that the proper way to do that is to source the owner of the content. That was my mistake and because I didn’t make that clear I didn’t do anything about the fact that they used one of the photos in an ad on their Facebook page without citing the source or ask for permission. I kept on recommending them and reposting the post I wrote about them because I knew it was probably a mistake. There was no bad intention.
Finding the photo in this brochure was different matter and I sent them an e-mail explaining that I didn’t give permission for this and asked them to pay me a fair amount to settle the matter. They refused to pay the full amount and gave me a counter offer that I refused after some e-mails back and forth. Maybe I was stupid to not take what they offered, which was 50% of the already small amount that I asked for, but I felt by agreeing to that I was telling them that it’s OK to take someone’s property, use it for financial gain and then tell the rightful owner how much that property was worth. It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle.
I contacted some lawyers and some professional photographers for advice, not because I wanted to sue them but because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being unfair or asking for something I wasn’t entitled to. One of the lawyers told me they would take on my case if I wanted to. This I told the company, not to threaten them, but to try to help them understand that I wasn’t being unreasonable and to legitimize my claim. This morning they sent me an e-mail telling me that the discussions were over.
I’m not going to take this matter any further. I believe them when they say that they didn’t mean to do me wrong and I see no point in getting some lawyers involved. It’s not about the cost of the lawyer because he would only have taken a fair share of the amount they would have had to pay me and there wouldn’t have been any additional costs involved for me. I’m not going to name the company either because I’m not on some revenge campaign to smear their name although I can’t deny that the thought crossed my mind. It just makes me profoundly sad that they don’t value me or all my hard work enough to pay me the small amount I put up for unauthorized use of something that belongs to me. And it makes me feel even more defeated.
I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing. At some point I might offer you some products you might or might not want to buy to keep the blog going, or sell some ads, but the essence of it will not change. I’m going to do it because I love my country and I want you to love it too. And because of everything I mentioned before. All I ask in return is being treated fairly. If you want to use my photos on your blog: cite the source and link to my blog. If you want to use my words on your blog: cite the source and link to my blog. If you want to use my material in any other way just be in touch and we’ll see if I can’t find a way to make it happen.