Arianna Huffington tells Portfolio.com’s Sam Gustin that things are going so swimmingly at the HuffPo that she may consider finally paying her 1,800 bloggers, who until now have been compensated only with karma and the hope of traffic.
Granted, she’s not really excited about it — she figures the writers should be happy just to be on HuffPo, much as contributors to the New York Times’ op/ed page are. But then again, she’s not really talking about paying her writers — she’s talking about making donations in their names.
“We provide the bloggers with a platform that gets a lot of traffic,” she continued. “Theoretically they could have their own blog, but maintaining a blog is an enormous amount of work. And if they have ‘another life’ and another line of work, it’s very hard to maintain a blog that gets traffic.”
Even so, Huffington is not completely unreceptive to the idea of compensating bloggers in some fashion. One idea she is considering would connect her most popular bloggers to some share of the revenue generated by the ads next to their posts.
“We are looking at a model which would allow contributions to be made to a blogger’s favourite charities,” she said. “Our bloggers would choose a number of charities, and we’re working out a revenue model which would allow money to be sent to those charities.”
So how well is HuffPo doing? Arianna says 4 million uniques a month (Nielsen says 1.4 million). And a recent, lengthy Fortune profile pegs 2007 revenues at $4 million, and projects $7.5 million for 2008. Meanwhile Gawker’s Choire Sicha and Nick Denton say there has been turnover on the site’s business side since the arrival of new CEO Betsy Morgan, which wouldn’t be a shock. Portfolio.com
Disclosure: SAI’s Henry Blogdet is a HuffPo columnist.