Morgan said in an interview with The Wild Hunt, “I hope that [Pagan Bloggers] becomes another destination for readers, because we are all readers, in the pagan community to hear our voices, debate questions, think and learn.”
The site came into being after news of the Patheos contract spread through the blogging community. Morgan explained, “Rhyd Wildermuth had posted to Facebook about the latest contract fallout from Patheos Pagan and in the comments someone wondered why there wasn’t an alternative. I commented back that I could do that then I did my own post and it was off to the races.”
The contract issues divided the online writing community with some staying with Patheos and others moving off. Patheos, now owned by Beliefnet, did amend the contract after complaints, however the change did not appease everyone.
Morgan said, “There were half a dozen people who immediately commented they would like to be authors if I did it, and it snowballed from there.”
In the days after making those comments, Morgan noted the commentary that was free flowing in social media, saying that people were frustrated that the site was being “managed outside the community.” Even though the channel manager is and has always been Pagan and part of the blogosphere, she noticed that, for many people, that was not enough.
“Reading the blog posts around the contract issue I kept seeing over and over the concerns about BeliefNet and how the content was being managed outside the community. It’s a reality of Web 2.0 that content generation of ‘free’ sites means money for someone else.”
She wasn’t surprised by these complaints. However, Morgan added, “I do think sometimes the Pagan blogging world can get caught up in itself and whip up a tempest in a teapot. It’s really easy to feed into that energy when you have a lot of persuasive and provocative speakers who know how to write to get responses.”
Regardless, Morgan recognized that she had the skills to make a new site happen. She has a professional IT background and has worked with Windows servers, managed a fiction story archive, and has been a social media consultant and community manager since the 1990s. “I have the technical know-how, the community manager background and the time in the pagan community to make it work.” She added that she’s been doing work like this for quite some time, although not directly within the Pagan community.
The PaganBloggers crowdfunding campaign began in early February, and it raised 12% of its goal within the first 24 hours. The IndieGoGo page proclaimed, “There is a need for a new Pagan portal, owned and operated by Pagans.” After a month the campaign closed, having funded 138% of its original goal.
On that page, Morgan listed the fiscal structure and her intent. The site will not be a nonprofit, and she is hoping to make project sustainable in all ways. “I hope to pay the authors and my volunteer staff starting early in 2018, which is dependent on ad revenue,” she explained. “My dream is that the site […] pays for itself, which includes all the contributors. Soon it will fall to the contributors to provide that awesome content to get us started and then keep the readers coming back.”The content is what will bring people back to the site, which in turns helps boost ad revenue. That is the model with which she aims to work.
The potential for diverse content is already in place. Since launch of the campaign, she has had many people sign on to fill that role. The list of contributing writers and artists can be found on the fledgling website. Some names are easily recognizable from other blogs or from the convention circuit; others are new.
Morgan said, “I have quite a few [former] Patheos authors on the site.” However she quickly added that she has “quite deliberately not engaged in debate about the contract.”
“That’s between those authors and Patheos. Not me.”
There were concerns raised about the new contributor’s contract being put in place for PaganBloggers. What expectations did Morgan have?
“Given that the site was created in direct response to the Patheos contract [issue], it is absolutely fair that they wanted to see what I had in mind.” She said that she has been upfront from the beginning. A draft contract was sent out with a two-week comment period.
Some of those expectations are publicly listed on the website, such as that relating to posting frequency, reprints, payment, ownership, and censorship of topics.
To date, no other concerns about the site have been expressed, but Morgan is not unrealistic; she said that she’s probably still in the “honeymoon phase” with the contributors. Question and issues will arise eventually.
Something that did surprise her was that president and COO of BN Media Jeremy McGee donated to the Pagan Bloggers campaign. “He had listened to my interview on PTRN and said ‘there is plenty of opportunity for us both.’ While she hasn’t talked to the Patheos Pagan Channel director directly, she said that “I don’t think there is any bad feeling on the part of BeliefNet about it.”
Jason Mankey, Patheos Pagan Channel manager, agreed. When asked about the new blog site, he said, “Any platform that puts more Pagan writers front and center is a good thing. And I’ve never seen the various blog spots as being in competition with one another. On the Pagan Patheos Facebook page I run articles from the Wild Hunt and Witches and Pagans and other places, I suspect I’ll run some articles from the new Pagan Bloggers site too.”
He believes the new site is going to have some great writers, as well as others that “have never written on a big platform before.”
“I’m really looking forward to reading those voices,” Mankey added.
Morgan, herself, is taking a similar attitude. She said, “I think there is plenty of space and more competition leads to a healthier environment for everyone. TWH, PaganSquare, Patheos, Paganbloggers. It’s all good.”
The new blogging site’s structure is still being worked out, and how it fits into the greater Pagan blogging world has yet to be seen. But Morgan said that people seem to be excited about the possibilities.
If nothing else, PaganBloggers.com will expand the offerings and accessibility of the general Pagan blogging community. Morgan believes, overall, that this one writing community plays an important role. She said, “[Pagan blogs] are a place to hear and debate ideas. Since so much of what I see in that world is exploring and carving out space, it’s vital to have that room to breathe. Next, it gives us a community outside of Facebook, conferences and festivals to continue dialogues, or start them.”
PaganBloggers.com opens its virtual doors Mar. 21.