Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Longer Drinking the Koolaid at Today.com

The way I figure it, the Today.com Exiles are all those that decided one day to stop drinking the Koolaid. At one point we were all drawn in by the allure of this blogging platform and were being treated nicely. Enough so that we would try to talk others in the forum into seeing that this was one of the best places to write for. Then we slowly saw the light, that the owner was selling out and no longer had our better interests at heart as writers, enough so that we began to wonder if he ever had our better interests at heart.


I signed on a year ago, back when Today.com was still relatively new. I didn't expect to be accepted, but was, and was shocked. It was only much later that I realized that they accepted everyone, and that I wasn't special. Everyone back then made a fairly decent income for running a blog, $5 a post per day, and that was for posting anything we wanted to. I was their first Most Popular Blogger. When others would diss the place I'd tell them this was among one of the better places that I had ever written, as I knew they truly had my best interests at heart. This is despite the fact that a few months later, newer hires were receiving a fraction of the money I was.

It was a great partnership. I brought them a lot of views, and I made a decent income. I was always in the top 20, if not the top 10. The owner of the site and I shared a few messages in my time, and in one he noted if I ever had any problems to let him know, and in another he was even seeking advice for his personal life. I felt I had his respect. I didn't feel I had the other admins respect, as they were reluctant to allow me to share links and work, something that I knew would help me and help them. I was going on vacation and simply wanted to have a few guest writers. I just didn't want my blog viewership to die out, something I'd worked really hard for. I wasn't looking to get paid for those posts, just keep the content moving. I started to have doubts.

Once the blog redesign was brought up in the forum, I had serious concerns. Because of formatting to individual posts, my blog would become unreadable under the design they were suggesting. Much of my viewership is brought on by search engines. People landing on my older posts would no longer be able to read them. No one would answer my question in the forum. Out of several TV blogs at today.com, I was the top viewed. I was afraid the uniform blog design would make mine just like all the others, as their viewers increased and mine decreased. The admins kept insisting all this was to better compete with other blog networks, but that didn't make sense. The other blog networks that operated with uniform design didn't accept every blogger that applied. They only had TV blogs in certain genres, one in each allowed. They had a niche; I didn't. I'd worked hard for viewership in a general genre. Again, no one answered my pleas.

I turned to the man who had pledged that I could always come to him with problems, especially if I felt I wasn't getting answers from his staff. I voiced my concerns respectfully. I was told this blog redesign was going to happen whether I liked it or not, and that he had made the decision. I tried to plead my case again. I stated my numbers and all that I had brought today.com and they had meant to me. I noted how important individuality was to me, and that the financial bonuses might not be as important. I write for simple things like making people feel, think, and laugh. I suggested that for those of us in the top rung, instead of always giving out financial bonuses that he start giving out privileges, such as controlling our design. I knew he was strapped financially. He issued me notice back saying most of the blogs, including my own didn't make the money he was paying out. He stated that we could skip ahead a few weeks and change my blog to one that was PPI instead of per post, as that was a change that was coming to all anyway.

I was flabbergasted. He was threatening me. I pleaded with him to do the honorable thing and keep me along with everyone else and not drop my pay before the others. The man that had once told me to come to him with any problems I was having issued me an order to stop messaging him and told me to discuss this with the support staff. This was Christmas, and I now lived in fear my income was about to be taken away.

I saw the writing on the wall and begin writing elsewhere. I still did my one post a day, but I no longer did extra posts, the ones that brought in all the views. Why should I? My blog design was changed without my consent and my pay was dropped to PPI. Instead of blasting today.com, I thanked them for all they had done and respectfully took my leave. I was blasted in the forums for leaving for such silly reasons as blog design. No one knew the real reason as I chose to take the high road. No one knew it was because I, a top out of 1500 blogger, had been threatened when I stopped drinking the koolaid, and that the promises where then fulfilled.

It wasn't long before I saw the true reason for the blog redesign. Ads began to be sold and many more appeared on the blogs. This was why they were redesigned of course. It wasn't to compete with the other blog networks, as that never made sense anyway. They just wanted the ability to sell more ads. Why not just say that in first place instead of playing all these games? This is why I stopped working full time and chose instead to freelance. I was tired of being treated badly by bosses.

It worked out okay for me. I've picked up other places to write to make up that money. I also took over the website of realityshack.com where I have written for five years. I don't make the same amount of money with it, but at least I have what I originally thought I had at today.com, the freedom. The koolaid may cost me more in the long run, but the taste is much better.

16 comments:

In Plain English May 10, 2009 at 6:06 AM  

You know, they are doing the exact same thing now. Cleaning out the old, unsatisfied bloggers and the forums have turned back around to "good job", "I love this place". I was new around the time you were leaving and I had no idea that things were less than perfect there. I was happy with $1 per post with the idea that I could "get a raise". Yeah, right. I am sure I almost got booted with the last round of bloggers, but so far I'm still in the game. I haven't posted on my blog there recently, but I am still reaping passive income there.
I had no idea bloggers had started out at $5 a post. What a way to reel bloggers in, get them to pound out content and then when they complain, keep the content without having to pay them the passive income promised to them.
I too have received private, "come to me with your problems if you have any. You are a great asset to today.com" messages from Dave. Is this guy pathalogical?
If you don't mind me asking, what was your blog at today.com?

UninvitedWriter May 10, 2009 at 8:10 AM  

The latest change at Today is that US members now have to submit a tax form. If they have made over $600 this year they will not get paid until Today receives the form. Payday is Monday...they advised people of this on Friday.

LauraBelle May 10, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

My blog was whatshotontv.today.com. As I said, Last May I was their Most Popular Blogger that month. I did reviews, commentary, and news, then in September I added a new feature of a daily list of what was hot on TV that day. If you go to the blog, it's still up. I was able to make changes to the old posts so that they can be read. They eventually added the capability to do that, but it would have been nice had they just answered me that they were going to do that so that I didn't spend two month worrying about eight months of daily content, much of which was twice a day.

And the tax info is an interesting change. Last January someone asked about paying taxes and an admin posted that they would not be sending us any tax forms and would not be submitted it to the IRS, that all of it was our responsibility. So now they are refusing to pay unless people file a form?

Ms Terri May 10, 2009 at 3:40 PM  

I remember when you posted that very classy good-bye note on the forums, and I remember being surprised you were leaving, because you always were one of their top bloggers. I figured there must have been a lot more going on below the surface ... and now we know. ;)

It's a shame Dave turned on you like that.

It's very interesting that he was already planning, that far back, to do away with the PPP for everyone.

Congrats on taking over the realityshack site! I completely agree that the freedom of having your own site is priceless.

In Plain English May 10, 2009 at 5:24 PM  

They are such bad business people. If you pay people more than $600 in a tax year, you have to send them a 1099 tax form. The blogger can't just take care of it because in order to claim the income they must submit they payers tax information. Anyone that pays taxes in the US would know this.
I didn't see that they are holding payments without the forms - that would be pretty crappy since they did just send notice on Friday. This will just be another way they can avoid paying people.

flit May 10, 2009 at 5:26 PM  

that would definitely be my guess... actually, I'm surprised that they are even still in business.

stinks of another way to avoid paying people what they owe

flit May 10, 2009 at 5:27 PM  

and so glad to see that you've joined us, by the way, LauraBelle!

Quadmama May 11, 2009 at 12:26 PM  

Here's another exile. I stopped drinking the kool-aid this weekend. Something just didn't sit right about sending the tax form and SS#. I don't know, maybe I'm paranoid, but on top of everything else I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Soooooo... Quadmama from Got Quads? can now be found at "Buried in Laundry." Funny, the same day I set up my new site I received my first piece of "hate comment" on my Today site. (And a personal note to Marilynne, when I try to post on your site with my new info, I'm called a "spambot" LOL!")

flit May 11, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

Welcome, Quadmama - I've added your site to the blogroll. If you want to be added as a contributor, just send me an email

Phyl May 13, 2009 at 7:28 PM  

I'm behind on this blog (what a week!), but I'm so glad to see the two of you. And sorry you've experienced what you have. This individual does sound pathological to me. I hope there are some of our Today.com friends who still post there who are reading this and getting uneasy.

I'll try to remember who add you guys to my Today Exiles page too. It's pretty long these days, but I consider it an honour roll. :-)

Poetic Shutterbug May 15, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

They are absolutely holding payments until they receive the w9 forms. They put up an alert on the VIP page two days before payday which was on the 8th. You can read my post about it all here http://poeticshutterbug.blogspot.com/2009/05/my-story-with-todaycom.html

I finally did get paid after threatening them.

The one point I also want to make is that while they were based outside the US and did not ask for us to submit w9's would than not mean that they did not own our content? How could they claim our content without that w9? I don't know the law in this situation so I don't know but it would seem we owned our own content for 2008.

Erelas RyAlcar May 24, 2009 at 5:10 PM  

Hello all, I didn't get exiled, I decided to haul butt outta there, too much weirdness going on. By the way, though I ry and try, I can't find any "official" information on severing my link / account with Today. Anyone have any advice or a link to the information? Thanks :)

Erelas RyAlcar May 25, 2009 at 2:25 PM  

Oh, let me correct that, I am now officially exiled, lol, oh, and "unprofessional". I think I'm proud.

darksaturn7 May 27, 2009 at 12:11 PM  

I left a few weeks ago. I had a personal blog RL: Teh Bleh and Other Mundanities. After realizing I could monetize it, write paid posts, AND not need to censor myself, I moved (or rather copied the new posts as you can import things over, but not export stuff back to blogspot...ugh) and revived the original site on blogspot. Then after giving that horrid adsense laden site, deleted everything and just left one post. A basic Fcuk you Today.com post. Other than the lost PR I have no regrets.

My page is now nesting at http://hotaruchan-darksaturn7.blogspot.com/

~DS

darksaturn7 May 27, 2009 at 12:14 PM  

Oh and just a few days ago they finally noticed and took my 1 post Today site down lawl! It was under darksaturn.today.com

~DS

Erelas RyAlcar May 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM  

Yay, my own url is up now, www.stillplaysvideogames.com :) and a site revamp.

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