On September 15th, the blogging world was caught up in a bit of a mess. If you haven’t heard yet, Mode Media, an agency valued at $90 million with over 12,000 blog partnerships, swiftly shut its doors without warning and left thousands of bloggers without explanations… or their owed earnings.
I’ve been a member of Mode for many years. They acted as middle men between myself and brands who were looking to do promotional campaigns with this blog. They had great connections with some of the top companies and basically made it easy to work with them and create unique content, ranging from simple social media posts to full out video campaigns.
On Friday, I was alerted through a Facebook post that they had shut down. A Facebook post. By a stranger.
I reacted how any blogger would and hopped onto Twitter to see what had happened. The hashtag #ModeMedia pretty much explained everything without really explaining anything. They had gone belly up and thousands of bloggers like myself were confused, angry, and wondering what the heck would happen with all of the money they’re still owed. Most likely, we will never even see it.
Although I am super disappointed that thousands of us will go unpaid, and although I could talk about how many relied on Mode to help them pay their bills, I’m not going to focus on that in this post.
Money comes and goes and there will always be a chance to make more of it. What I am furious about is the fact that creators are continuously shunned by larger companies and even individuals who don’t appreciate or understand the efforts of their work.
This has been a problem in creative industries for decades, and now that blogging has become an actual reliable income source and career for many, I think it’s time we stop disregarding our industry as a “hobby”.
The last campaign I did with Mode was a video promotion and social media job. It took me 3 whole working days to prep, shoot and edit the photos accompanying the video, film the video according to their extremely specific directions, additional hours to edit the first draft, then re-edit it (three times I might add!) after receiving comments from the brand. I uploaded that video 4 times, created an original 500+ word blog post to go alongside it, edited some Instagram photos according to their specifications once again, and then made sure to schedule the final posts on certain provided dates, meaning my regular content would be pushed aside for these promotions.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a decent employable amount of work to me.
I will probably never see my payment for that job. But that’s not the point.
Yes, this situation comes with financial complications, but we are also taking about one of the largest international online media corporations pulling the rug out from under us and leaving us with not so much as an explanation or remedy. There was no warning. There were no emails at all to their bloggers. There are probably still unaware creators wasting their time on finishing up in-progress campaigns right now.
If this type of company (who was built on working with bloggers specifically) doesn’t value the effort provided by their own creators, how is anyone else supposed to? How are we supposed to value our own efforts and creativity when they can so easily be taken from us?
Why should a company decide what we are worth???
I am angry that as independent creators, we are sometimes still forced into these situations that lets others dictate our value.
You know that contract you signed at the start of your relationship with the agency? The one with all of the guidelines about how you’re supposed to give the first ad placements priority to the company otherwise you can’t be a partner? Guess what, it means squat if the company decides to no longer exist and forgo even warning you. Where were OUR terms? Where was the list of requirements that THEY signed in order to make sure that they’ll do the best they can for US? Perhaps this is something bloggers need to start thinking about in the future.
Let this be a lesson to us that we need to take more control over our content and not be bossed around by companies claiming that they have our best interests at heart. Let’s start learning how to interact with larger corporations so we can cut out the middle man. But mostly, let’s remember that we are worth what we produce and let’s never question our abilities or brush off blogging as a silly hobby. Stand up when you see that something isn’t right and share your voice.
What I’m going to do about the Mode Media shut down
While Mode was only a small portion of my own pie, I am still going to actively make changes to how I do things in the future, and I highly suggest you do as well… whether you were a Mode creator or not.
Firstly, I’ll be independently working with brands on my own terms. This means making a great media kit and actually getting out there and getting in touch with companies if I want to work with them. My site. My rules.
If I do ever decide to hook up with a media agency again, I will not accept terms of 120 day delayed payments. Any ad network should be totally fine with paying you after a month max… if they’re not, question it.
I’ll be pulling all content from Mode off of my site, in particular everything I had not been compensated for.
I’ll be filing my unpaid campaigns as “unpaid invoices” on my taxes. Although that will be tough considering Mode has disabled access to bloggers’ financial reports as a way to hide our actual owed earnings.
Finally, I will continue to stand up and publicly write posts just like this one if something isn’t right. If you have a blog, you have a voice and no matter how big or small, it still means something to someone.
Keep on fighting and living the dream, fellow bloggers!