On slave labor, unpaid interns and definition of business

Business: any activity or enterprise entered into for profit.

I mentioned before that I have no problem with people getting paid for their hard work. In fact, I absolutely detest when highly profitable companies exploit unpaid intern labor. I consider it a modern day form of slavery. Which is why I would never ask my readers to do any kind of free work relating to my site. In fact, even if you offered it to me, I would refuse it. Why?

Because I run a for-profit business and not a charity. And as such, I should be willing to invest in it. Otherwise, I always have the option of closing it down if I feel it’s not making me enough money. Would you volunteer to stock up shelves at a local Walmart? I’m guessing no. Then there is no reason to do it for my blog either or any other business for that matter. It’s essentially the same thing.

As long as I have affiliate links, you know how to support me. If I lose them, then my stand may change. Yet, one  affiliate blogger had no problem asking for free work from  readers in their recent post. When some of them expressed outrage, that person had the audacity to say, that they did intend to offer compensation after all. It was just a test for readers, to see if they would do it for the love of the hobby.

I mentioned before that some people get compensated very well in this industry and usually for a good reason. It’s a lot of work. But somehow a few still refuse to call it a business. They will use a word “passion” or describe it as a “labor of love” and so forth.  Basically: ” I do it  to help readers and that’s my only motive. Affiliate links? Oh, I forgot I have them! Those huge Chase checks? Oh, that must be my sign-up bonuses or something.”

Let’s see. You get checks from your affiliate company, that you deposit into your business account.  At the end of the year you deduct your business expenses , like those from going to the promotional events.  You file a Schedule C on your taxes for your business.  And then you pay self-employment taxes on your business. 

Still not convinced? Try explaining to IRS that your blog is just a labor of love, for which you just happen to collect six figures. See, what they have to say to that. I refuse to insult my readers’ intelligence in such manner. So yes, I am running  a business. But it’s  a labor of love as well.

To the affiliate bloggers. If you feel, you have an argument on why it’s not a business, there is a comments section below.  Prove me wrong.

5 thoughts on “On slave labor, unpaid interns and definition of business

  1. Disagree. Your statement regarding labor of love is too linear when correlating to IRS Definitions. Businesses can both make money and lose money, and investment in businesses at the start is greater than the return.

    Think of a business like a flywheel, you need to generate sufficient momentum to make it flow, and then it should require a maintenance level approach to generate revenue if the model is successful. As such, in year 1 you can call it a Business for the IRS, but if you are generating revenue not equal to your expected time investment, AND have no guarantee of the future success then it is, indeed, a labor of love.

    Also – I think you should name the blog, and you shouldn’t ask the bloggers to name themselves.


  2. Matt, thanks for stopping by! I said that bloggers can comment if they have a valid argument against me calling affiliate sites a business. I’m certainly not forcing anyone and in fact if they wish to sign in under alias, thats fine too. I have no problem putting my blog’s name when commenting on other sites and expressing my opinions. But I will delete it, that’s fine. No, I will not name the blog, that’s going too far. Most in the industry will know anyway and my readers won’t care.
    Also, it’s not about the definition of a business. I was simply trying to make a point. And I do stand by what I said.Thanks for commenting.


  3. Just to follow up on my comment in case a new reader stops by. If a blogger deducts expenses at the end of the year, it is considered a business by IRS standards. Otherwise, it’s a hobby. This particular blogger I referred to, is making a profit and most certainly is running a business. I am a former tax professional and have some knowledge on the matter.


  4. Pingback: Why Your Unpaid Internship Makes You Less Employable - Forbes

  5. Pingback: Why Your Unpaid Internship Makes You Less Employable | Make Money In

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