Exclusive: Is b5 Media about to face a mass exodus of bloggers?

Performancing has verified reports with multiple sources that there is rapidly increasing tension between b5 media’s management and its bloggers. As more details emerge, we will bring them to you here.

Two months ago b5 cut over 80 blogs from its networks citing poor performance. Now there appears to be dissension among the ranks as people in the know are reporting the likelihood of a major pay cut coming for almost all b5 bloggers.

As this news spreads, we’re hearing reports of a planned mass exodus coming up among b5Media editors and bloggers which will only get worse once news goes fully public.

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. Pretty ironic when you consider b5’s very public plea to save KnowMoreMedia a couple of months back. The real question: Who will save b5?

A Note of Clarification: My primary motivation in posting this news was to protect blogger interests. In my world, the two most important things are human beings and the truth. If bloggers are going to get shafted, then I wanted to do what I can to affect change. However, it has come to my attention that the new payment model coming out of b5 Media is designed to more accurately reward performance. If this is the case, and if it is a fair model, then I would heartily endorse the new system. I have always believed that there needs to be a delicate balance between sustainable business policies and worker interests. b5 should be able to modify their business model so that it rewards good workers. My only remaining concern is this: the new system should enable the best bloggers to make more money rather than exclusively rewarding management with the high-life.

Full Disclosure for the interest of Jeremy Wright of b5 Media

Since Jeremy pointed it out, I’ll make the supposed conflict of interest very clear: b5 sells advertising on one of my sites, PopCrunch.

Big freakin’ deal. It has absolutely nothing to do with the news I reported. A classic case of obfuscation.

36 thoughts on “Exclusive: Is b5 Media about to face a mass exodus of bloggers?

  1. Dear Jeremy Wright,

    When I was accepted to work for b5Media I walked on air for days. Imagine, me, getting into a network with such a great reputation. Liz Strauss works for b5Media, Brian Clark works for b5Media and Darren Rowse was one of the owners. I could be a big name blogger too! Except that didn’t happen. I became known among other b5Media bloggers but no one knew of me outside of the network. But that’s not why I’m leaving I’m leaving because

    – Our new contract makes our jobs more difficult. We can’t post images without government sized amounts of paperwork, we can’t use affiliats anymore and we can’t review big ticket items anymore. Considering I just lost MORE than half my pay this doesn’t give me much incentive. Did I mention I lost more than half my pay?

    – In the private b5Media forum, certain team members are flat out ignoring certain questions regarding new pay and the contract. There is no excuse for this rudeness and starts you off on the wrong foot. At least say you can’t respond to that.

    – Morale is at an all time low.

    – Bloggers are leaving in droves. I can tell by all the internal blogger’s wanted lists. (Best to keep that off of ProBlogger. Can’t have everyone worrying about a “mass exodus” can we?

    – CE’s promise one thing to us and turn around and say something else to each other in the CE chat. I no longer trust the people who are to manage us.

    Nice work, b5media. I stuck with you because I believed in you. Now I don’t believe in you at all any more.


    A Recently Former Long Term Blogger

  2. Hats off Ryan. Techcrunch and blog herald reported this news today. Jeremy did cut his bloggers pay and it wasn’t just rumors.

    I wonder if Darren gets paid by this model?

  3. Jeremy isn’t being entirely truthful. This isn’t rumour according to the latest email. We are losing most of our traffic pay. My CE says with the new metrics my traffic pay won’t equal half of what it is now. I count on my traffic pay for survival. The stats she gave me today were grim and I’m very depressed over this. We can’t talk to you jeremy because you’re on this kick about having better stats and less pay will make us better bloggers which is so condescending.

    Since b5 won’t discuss the new base pay details with us we can only assume that is going down. Several bloggers in my channel have already expressed their disappointment and will leave if the base is cut on top of this traffic pay.

    The new system says we will be awarded for performance. If we hit big on Digg we receive a bonus. Which means b5 is about to become a linkbait farm and quality will lose out to a tonne of people begging for Diggs and Stumbles.

    Why am I telling you this? Because the bloggers are always getting screwed over. I’m done doing charity work for websites and blogs while the owners benefit.

  4. If people have concerns, they should be pinging me or the team. Most of the stuff in these comments are rumours. And we don’t respond to rumours publicly. But if you send me, or your CE, or Rachel, or anyone an email we’ll be happy to clear up the confusion.

    As far as revealing yet more internal details, once again, confidential information is confidential. Revealing confidential information isn’t appropriate.

    As far as the “drop” in traffic is exactly the same as any blogger would see from looking at their AWStats (or Webalizer, or any other server-based log app) vs AdSense. There’s no trickery going on here.

    End of the day, anonymous criticism in public are impossible to talk to. My email/cell/skype/twitter are all public. If you think we’re ripping you off, email me and tell me why. I can guarantee it’s either confusion around what’s going on or assumptions based on misinformation. And I’m happy to personally clear up either. Privately.

  5. For most of us traffic pay is getting cut at least by half with a new stats program. Somehow our old stats program showed us to receive oodles more traffic than we actually get. Now with our new stats in place our traffic pay is getting cut and yes it will be substantial. Also suspicious is how no one will mention the base pay. We don’t know if it’s staying the same or also getting cut. Somehow I don’t think we’re all getting raises.

  6. After almost a year with b5 I started looking for other blogging work too. BWE was like a slap in the face to the people who are worried about their jobs. It would have been more beneficial to all of us at b5 if the team stayed in the office and worked out ways for us to keep our pay or at least ways to invest back in all of us.

    To send us an email telling us we’re getting a pay cut and then jet off to Las Vegas doesn’t instill confidence. If CJ left for the reason people are saying she left it makes me feel even worse.

    The pay cut is definitely coming we just don’t know how much. I don’t know how anyone can accept any cut in pay and I lost all respect for my CE after she sent a note around telling us that this is a great thing.

    I don’t want to leave b5 but it looks like it would be better to find other sources of income.

  7. I am almost embarrassed to be a b5 blogger right now after reading about how b5 was portrayed at BWE. I am also waiting for my contract to make a decision. If my pay will go down at all after writing for b5 for over two years now, I will leave without a second thought.

  8. Check out the comments here http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/18/secret-merger-talks-between-technorati-and-b5media-blow-up/

    Especially this one which sums up how many b5 bloggers feel:
    “Speaking as a b5 blogger (no, I won’t say who I am), I can say that most of our money is spent sending Jeremy Wright to every conference he can possibly sign up for. It would be better spent designing blog templates that don’t look like 1995, supporting bloggers with better editors, and and basically giving more support to the top blogs, rather than constantly bringing in more half-ass blogs on super-niche topics.”

    I’m sick of hearing about how our pay is going to be lower and looking at pictures of Darren Rowse and Shai Coggins having a ball at b5 probably on b5’s dime. I know Jeremy didn’t pay for his hotel room out of his pocket. Lots of receipts were being saved last weekend from all the b5 people in vegas.

    You have to be copyblogger or problogger or a celebrity blogger to get any benefits from b5. And while we’re at it lets talk about b5’s board of directors. Does Robert Scoble have that big an input? How much are we paying all these people for doing basically nothing while we’re busting our butts to write at least 24 posts a week for $50 plus traffic incentives?

    I’m just waiting to see my contract. If I’m making less I’m out of there. I bust my butt for b5 every day and I’m rewarded with pictures of Jeremy Wright singing karaoke while we’re all sitting home wondering if we’re going to be able to afford our next meal.

  9. Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I’m not a b5 blogger, never have been and after last weekends treatment at bwe (more on that later) I never will be.

    The truth is any pay adjustment lowering a bloggers pay is not acceptable. You simply can’t hire a blogger with one rate and turn around and say, “You know, we need to rethink things here. You’re not going to be getting paid as much money but the privledge of working for us should more than make up for your pay “adjustment.”” No amount of spin can make this right. Anyone in management or editor going along with an “adjustment” to lower pay and tries to pass it off as a good thing is slime. No two ways about it. You can’t justify lowering a bloggers pay. It’s not a good thing Jeremy.

    Yeah the b5 booth was excessive. I couldn’t for the life of me determine its purpose. If you look around every single booth at bwe had people looking to talk with the attendees. The b5 people were more interested in playing poker. I couldn’t tell if they were looking for new members advertisers or investors. The booths only purpose seemed ot be a poker table. How can you conduct business when you’re seated at a poker table the whole time? I did ask one person to talk to me about working at b5 and she told me to wait until she was done with her hand. Um…no. Buh bye.

    It would be a slimy thing for b5 to sell a lower pay as a good thing for their bloggers. Instead of investing in their bloggers by flying them to conventions they should invest in their bloggers by paying them a livable wage.

    No. There may not be a mass exodus but we all know people have already left. That in itself is telling enough.

  10. Actually a couple of editors and bloggers already left over this. I don’t know about mass exodus but there are some people who were very upset with the direction things were going and left after expressing their unhappiness. We can pretend everything is fine and dandy but there were people who already left over the unfairness of it all.

    Hopefully it was a sacrifice for the cause and the pay thing is being reconsidered. I know there are a few of us who will leave if our pay is cut too much. We will see what happens when we get the new contracts.

  11. This tread really should be dead and buried by now. When we annnounce our new pay model, people can judge us based on that. And while I appreciate the vote of confidence in my personality, people should just the pay model based on its fairness. Once it’s announced.

    As far as booths, we get booths for free. We paid less for rooms at the MGM than any other hotel. We shared rooms. Most prizes were from partners. We got cheap flights. And, yeah, we flew some bloggers and CEs in because it was us investing into our community. But we spent less on this conference than it might appear, due to partnerships/sponsorships/etc. In fact, we probably spent less than 80% of the companies there – and did a lot more with what we did spend.

    I wouldn’t judgeus either way because of our booth because we’re able to do a lot of stuff for trade (ads, intros, sponsorships, etc).

    Either way, the point of this thread was some major exodus of bloggers, which obviously hasn’t happened, due to a pay system that isn’t yet announced. When it is, let’s revisit the discussion. End of the day, judge us on our actual actions (and not assumptions, like cost of booth) and not rumours.

  12. All your points about money spent at a trade show mean nothing in the way of security and do not speak to a person’s character at all. I’ve personally witnessed CEOs spend millions of dollars at exhibits at trade shows, only to have those exhibits turn out to have been a last stand, the last party, or a shot in the dark hale marry. I’m not saying B5 is going down because they had a low function high visibility booth (note, I walked by it 20 times and never stopped to learn more about it, because it was not an engaging booth, and seemed to provide little value), but those items you mentioned could most definitely be warning signs of a problem that I have seen repeated dozens and dozens of times.

    The notion that you have to spend money to make money is hogwash.

    Consider, what could have been done with that money instead, buying advertising to bring people to b5 properties, paying for site upgrades, writing bonuses, or providing new/improved equipment or systems. Those things would have been an investment in the company, but paying to have a poker table shipped into Vegas?

    Hello! its Vegas, you can find poker tables all over the place, and entrance to play is a hell of a lot cheaper!

  13. This is the exact thing WebLogsInc did. They got rid of the niche blogs and merged them into single more authority domains that covered a wider topic. Like combining VoIP, Social Software, Google News etc. all onto Download Squad.

    The mini-niche blogs in most circumstances are a bad business model due to Google awarding larger more authoritative domains meaning small niche blogs have trouble ranking over bigger broader blogs.

  14. This post can’t be true and I’ll tell you why. Jeremy is a class act. He’d never screw over his bloggers. Jeremy and the b5 team all had rooms at the MGM Grand which is an expensive hotel. They also spent a lot of money on an oversized booth with poker table and high end items (like video game consoles) and gadgets to giveaway. The swag was high end too. If they spent money on this while still cutting pay to their bloggers it would be akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

    They wouldn’t have paid for so many bloggers to attend or put out that much money for fun and games if they didn’t have money to spend on bloggers.

    So I don’t believe it.

    And what that guy said about putting eggs in one basket. I work only for b5 with a bunch of blogs there. I trust them to do the right thing so I’m not worried. They care about us they wouldn’t spend all that money on bwe and then screw us over and cut our pay.

  15. I find this thread to be rather comical. I don’t work with B5 and don’t read their blogs, I have walked past their booths a couple times at trade shows, but never talked with them.

    All that said, I feel for any blogger that puts all their eggs in one basket. I see this happening with other networks as well (Meevio comes to mind). You can take a job anywhere doing anything, but there is no stability in taking a job. No company protects jobs. That’s not what what they do. Only YOU as an individual can protect your own interests.

    If you were an investor and gambled all of your money and revenue on a single stock and company most people would consider you slightly mad. As a blogger in a very very young industry, doing the same thing is definitely risky. You will be subject to market swings, speculation, news, news on news and rumors just like an investor in any given company is subject to the same thing.

    It is always the responsibility of the company to stay on top of PR and any possible damage control, and this is where I find this thread really funny. B5, does not appear to be controlling its message nor PR very well whether there is any substance to the reports or discussion is irrelevant. We’re talking about essentially a blogging company that can’t communicate (in this instance).

    So here’s the thing, I do suspect that anyone that comes to Performancing and likely anyone that works for B5 media has the selfish goal of wanting the blog industry to grow and improve. Yes there may be some competition from time to time at play and other opportunities as well. But Hello! we are creating media here and on our blogs all the time. This thread is just more media. Its what we do. How we each choose to use that to our own advantage is one thing, but everyone, B5 media, Performancing, bloggers inside and outside both networks etc., should see and realize the opportunity in this thread to generate more media.

    Don’t like the message, well then change it.

    Don’t agree with the conclusions or sources, well then deduce better conclusions, find better sources, and/or refute existing sources. But hey look this is all content and fodder for content and even if this thread possibly started out negative or had info that was possibly a rumor, I’ve got a news flash for everyone.

    WE’RE BLOGGERS. We’re not necessarily journalists too. We create media and it is typically in the form of a blog. So don’t get mad or upset over internet rumors. Reach into your wardrobe or drawer, grab your big boy/girl pants and pull them up and on and go create some media and go own the message that you want to own.

    Pull that off, and this thread will be eclipsed by something bigger and better. Fail to do that, and you probably are in the wrong line of work.

  16. Sorry Ryan but this post is BS. I’ve bitten my lip about commenting on this until this point but from the moment I saw this post I felt uneasy about it and today it hit me as to why.

    “My primary motivation in posting this news was to protect blogger interests.”

    You see, as a b5 blogger, I don’t feel that this post ‘protects’ my interests at all.

    Why? The reason is simple

    In writing this you destabilized the company that has been sending me pay checks each month – the company that helps me feed my family. I’m not the biggest b5 blogger going around but the pay that I earn is more from my one b5 blog is 5 times as much as I earn from my own personal other blogs, all three of them put together.

    From what I see, in posting these ‘rumors’ you actually created more tension in and around b5 and while I see the company as strong enough to ride the minor bumps that this caused I personally feel that this post did nothing to strengthen my position as a blogger, all it does is destabilize it.

    This type of post doesn’t ‘fit’ for me at Performancing which 99% of the time fulfils its mantra to ‘help bloggers succeed’. From my angle this was a post that was simply trying to cause trouble and be sensational. Whether this was malicious (as Splashpress is a competitor to b5) I don’t know. It was probably just an attempt at causing controversy and drumming up readers and not malicious, but to me it simply weakened my opinion of you as a blogger and of this blog.

    In fact the more that I think about it the angrier I’ve become as my family’s welfare depends upon the money I earn through b5 and this post could potentially have threatened that if b5 was actually in a rocky position and not closing a 2nd round of funding.

    Please consider that there are real people behind a company that you might write about. When you publish rumors and innuendo you threaten those that you actually have said that you want to serve.

  17. Popped said

    “I’m a little curious as to how and when this became the business of the public?”

    I’m sure Know More Media would have preferred to have their private details left private too.

  18. I don’t know what the rates were at b5 (sorry don’t care) nor do I know what constitutes a “pay adjustment” .. but I do think this will trickle down to smaller peanuts like me who have a bunch of sites looking to hire bloggers.

    I think the little networks will gain from lower cost of content – that is if these laid off bloggers want to work so bad they need the money – and the readers will lose in the long-run if these “higher-priced” bloggers, who are struggling to not lowering their standards by taking a pay cut, won’t get it ..

    “lower pay cut” means you work the same amount of time and effort and your average hourly rate probably goes down

    “lower pay cut” does not mean you work less as hard and less time to boost up your average hourly rate and make it seem more worthwhile to the blogger.

    The ones in the second group will ruin it for everybody, in my opinion. The ones in the first group have to do what everybody else has to do .. that is decide if it’s enough for them in their own world to survive, or if they need to do something else, or compliment with additional work.

    There is no “Pogie” line

  19. I’m a little curious as to how and when this became the business of the public?

    Aren’t bloggers grown up enough to form their own opinions once they’ve gathered all the facts?

  20. where everyone sits in a circle and one persons starts by saying a sentence like “Jimmy like to watch cartoons a Saturday morning” and by the time it comes full circle it has turned in to “Larry hikes the mountains of Carolina”.

    It’s sort of like that. Whenever a company in any business goes through a change and a little bit of a “This Might Happen” leaks, all of a sudden it’s all over the place and people panic. Rumors circulate and words get twisted. I’ve seen it in the manufacturing industry many times. People start running their mouths when they shouldn’t because they are not close to where the decisions are being made and they really don’t know or can not confirm what is going to happen. He said, she said, I heard, he told me, word is….

    Panicking is not the solution to anything and questions and comments should go through a chain of command. Everyone starts to get in a frenzy and they don’t have a clue as to what is going on. You don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. Then, if needed you can panic. Until then it’s probably best to keep quite and do your job. Either that or resign your position.

  21. The fact of life is that b5media is a business. They need to control costs and keep quality up. It’s the risk you take when signing up with any blog network. They can cut you or change the pay model at their whim. It’s happened to me several times, and not because of the quality of my content. Instead, it was because the model wasn’t sustainable. Without a strong sales force getting good advertisers – and a strong economy that has advertisers with deep pockets – it’s hard to pay everyone.

    Instead, think twice and read your contract carefully before signing up with a blog network. They’re great for exposure and resume building, not so great for your pocketbook. Still you can learn a lot from them, but better yet, take the time to learn how to develop a great blog of your own and monetize it well.

  22. *Performancing is a reputable source. Why would they say this if it isn’t true?

    * No one is denying the “major” pay cut.

    *Bloggers are confused and upset.

    I don’t wish to discredit b5Media but times are tough. I can see why people are talking. The bloggers are worried and if they don’t want us to listen to “Rumours on Rumours” they have to let the bloggers know exactly where they stand.

  23. Anonymous: Feel free to ping me privately. You should have my email, cell, skype and Twitter. If you have concerns, all 4 are always on. Also, as a note, I’d encourage you to abide by confidentiality clauses in your contract (ie: “since Jeremy sent us a note saying our rates would be adjusted”).

    As far as making public statements about pay, sorry, but we communicate with our bloggers first. Because they’re the ones we’re working our butts off to ensure we’re being fair to. Oh, and, no Ryan, we don’t live the high life. Anyone who’s met me will attest to that.

    And I’d like to note that Ryan has stated privately that he doesn’t recall the conversations about our portal plans, which I believe (because he’s never lied to me before), so I’ll iterate that his “idea” is a good one and one that b5’s been pursuing for some time. It’s not quite his idea, and we’ll be announcing more in the next week, but it does get to his point.

  24. I’m glad I saw this here. The rumors have been swirling thick and fast ever since Jeremy sent us a note saying our rates would be adjusted. Add to that big time water cooler talk going on this week that has me worried. I would like to ask Jeremy some questions too:

    1. Why do you love celebrity bloggers best?
    2. How much of a pay cut are we talking here?

    Thank you for your reassurance.

  25. “Q. Is b5 going down the road of ‘quality over quantity’ in that you want just a handful of big time blogs?”

    I don’t know the answer to this question, but if I were consulting b5, it would be the first thing I would emphasize. Content only monetizes on powerful domains.

  26. Let’s put aside Ryan’s so-called conflict of interest – “b5 sells advertising on Ryan’s site” – conflict? yes and no, imho.

    Jeremy: take my word (or not – but I’ hope I’ve established some credibility over the years) but the rumours are running thick and fast. I’ve been approached by various b5 bloggers over recent days – even though I’m not really into the blogging about blogging industry any more – with various rants on a range of issues that Ryan’s post highlights.

    I take them at face value and like to dig a little deeper. Seeing KMM went down is one signal, another is the scattered posts over at many b5 blogs. B5 does not have a standout blog, which is a weakness in such an over-crowded market and the recent cutting of blogs sends signals that all is not well or something is in the works.

    Your comments didn’t address the issues put in the article – and you acknowledge “the industry is going through a major shift right now, and while some of those will undoubtedly impact b5”

    Well now my journalist antennae are a tweaking. 🙂

    Some simply questions:

    Q. Are b5 changing their pay rate for bloggers in the coming weeks/months?

    Q. Will b5 be cutting any more blogs in the coming weeks/months?

    Q. Is b5 going down the road of ‘quality over quantity’ in that you want just a handful of big time blogs?

    Q. Out of left field, is b5 media on the market? Are you setting up b5 for a sale?

    No rush on responding, Jeremy 😉 but you’ve always been open and available which I admire.


  27. “I’d also like to note that the conflict of interest here should have been disclosed loud and clear. Not just Splashpress to b5 (which is fine, since this is a newsie site, but should have been disclosed anyways), but Ryan/PopCrunch to b5.”

    Since Jeremy pointed it out, I’ll make the supposed conflict of interest very clear: b5 sells advertising on PopCrunch.

    Big freakin’ deal. It has absolutely nothing to do with the news I reported.

  28. “Especially given Ryan’s “idea” is one he knows we’re about to launch in the coming weeks.”

    Let’s call bullshit bullshit. I had no knowledge of b5 plans. No knowledge whatsoever. Maybe Jeremy can tell me what I was supposed to know.

  29. Jeremy can you say here that b5 bloggers will NOT have their pay cut significantly as stated above? I’m not talking about all the round about/salesman speak we’re used to hearing from you – can you tell us, in no uncertain terms, that we will NOT experience a major drop in pay?

  30. Jeremy, thanks for responding to this post. After initially seeing it there was obviously some discomfort with the “news” that was reported. I didn’t put much validity into it because I hadn’t heard anything about a response from anyone at b5media yet. That didn’t completely ease the anxiety of course. As someone that’s been blogging for b5 for almost 3 years now, I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. I’ve always admired how b5 (specifically you) have always appeared to do everything you can to take care of bloggers. Sometimes the pains of this thing being a “business” have been challenging, but a healthy company is only that much better for its employees in the long run.

    I’m looking forward to hopefully hearing more real news and information about what’s in store for b5 while I’m in Vegas next week for Blog World Expo. We’ll see you there!

  31. Just to note that since nothing has been announced about anything, to anyone, these are rumours on rumours on rumours.

    And while some of the things impacting the industry could easily be projected onto b5, the truth of the matter (in terms of the health of the company) is that we’ve just closed an additional round of funding (no further details at this time, though it is larger than our first round). Per my multiple posts on ensight.org, the industry is going through a major shift right now, and while some of those will undoubtedly impact b5, we’re doing everything we can to continue investing in our bloggers, including keeping pay as fair as possible.

    I’d also like to note that the conflict of interest here should have been disclosed loud and clear. Not just Splashpress to b5 (which is fine, since this is a newsie site, but should have been disclosed anyways), but Ryan/PopCrunch to b5. Especially given Ryan’s “idea” is one he knows we’re about to launch in the coming weeks.

    The lack of that kind of disclosure is always fun, and makes it hard for any outsider to read the post with anything approaching objectivity.

  32. The fact of the matter is that pure textual content does not monetize well any longer without being highly targeted and placed on a really strong domain.

    b5 would be smart to create a single, uber-powerful site… a pimped out, souped up article directory. Let the bloggers blog, but have all the blogging be part of a single, massively powerful site.

  33. If this is all true, where would the b5 bloggers go in order to make the same amount of money or more that they were being paid by b5? I guess it would depend on the paycut if moving away from b5 would be worth it in the long run.

  34. I will not try to save B5 if they are going to act this way to loyal bloggers. You keep them as long as possible for their loyalty. Good bloggers are rare to find these days instead of spammers.

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