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I would like to make it clear that I do not disagree with reciprocal arrangements.

I have contributed to other blogs and I have writers who contribute to Landscape Juice too.

What has bothered me in this case is that Yell clearly stated that 'nobody' will be paid - that is clearly not what has happened.

At the risk of sounding thick, do they mean you'd get a link to your blog for the post you write?

I can see why that is a good thing, but we're talking about a company here, why shouldn't they pay you? And why enter into a "wide range of relationships" with different bloggers?

If they value your content enough to approach you I think they should value it enough to pay you.

Plus, I never use Yell. If I want to search for phone numbers, companies etc I just Google plumbers+Basingstoke or whatever. Would Yell generate heaps of traffic for you?

I think we - writers, bloggers, publishers and readers - are entering a new and rather difficult area, most especially for those who earn a living from the written word.

The proliferation of 'guest' blogging, especially in national newspapers, means that large companies, on a par with Yell.com, are getting content for free. The fact that some of this stuff is pretty ropey seems to pass those publishing it, but not necessarily those reading it, by. It's a cheap but not always cheerful way of filling up virtual pages.

There are all sorts of hidden dangers in the Yell.com approach, not least the inequity already described: "We are currently building a big network of bloggers and freelance writers and naturally we enter into a wide range of relationships with them." Translated, this means that low-ranking celebrities in any field who stamp their feet might get paid for what they write, but I suspect the vast majority won't.

Others dangers include a perception that gardening is something easy that anyone can do and therefore anyone can write about, and that it requires no skill, training, experience or talent - either on the gardening or the writing side. You could say the same about cooking (or indeed anything else): you've just baked a loaf so why not blog about it.

But perhaps the greatest danger is that publishers of all hues will be more and more tempted to use (free) 'guest' content. This will look good on the bottom line, but the downside for the reader, of course, is that all they'll be left with, potentially, is nothing but pap to read.

Yes, of course large companies should be paying for quality written (and indeed photographic) content, but that will only happen if writers and bloggers stick together and start saying 'no thanks' to the guest spot - unless a fair fee is attached.

On a smaller, more human to human scale, there's huge potential for developing exciting and mutually beneficial reciprocal relationships.

As an example, I see a big shake-up coming for the gardening press, which through its reliance on big business for advertising revenue, remains highly risk-averse when it comes to publishing material that might be seen to unsteady the advertising boat. Hence we don't see much in-depth coverage in the gardening press (with a few notable exceptions) of how the way we garden impacts on the world around us.

But with the barriers of editorial jitters pruned away, which is exactly what you get when you self-publish online, we can look forward to perhaps the most interactive and honest engagement with gardeners that's ever been witnessed.

Nurturing that will require a synergy between people who've grabbed the reins of the digital age and people who can work with them to create blogs and web content that no self-respecting gardener would dare not click on.

Deb and John, thanks for your comments.

Here are my thoughts also...

There are many online companies - who are trying to stem the loss of revenues from their printed media - that are in desperate need of content.

Content brings with in traffic and of course potential revenue.

What Yell need to do is attract visitors of a gardening nature through landscape and garden related content. It will the hope to convert these visitors into potential clients for its advertisers by displaying relevant adverts next to the content.

There will also be an aspect of IP tracking whereby an enquirer, whose IP address is logged in a certain location, will be dealt relevant ads that are local to them and closely match their search query.

What worries me is that Yell are happy to accept anything (John picks up on this)by the way of content which is loosely related to gardening r landscaping etc), in a bid to attract Google crawlers.

As I say in my article, with £122 million of revenues in 2008, Yell can and should pay their way.

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