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Perez Hilton on blogging for pay: 'It's a lot of pressure'

by Nick Langewis

Blogging is high-pressure and fast-paced, but he has a good time, says star entertainment blogger Perez Hilton.

"It's a lot of pressure to constantly keep it updated," he says, "because I think I've spoiled my readers into expecting that."

Perez appeared via webcam with CNN's Kiran Chetry this morning to discuss a New York Times article, run over the weekend, airing concerns about the physical and mental toll blogging can have on a person who does it for a living. Bloggers, the Times says, are increasingly finding themselves in "digital sweatshops" where pressure to feed a constant demand for real-time news creates a climate rife with health problems arising from sleep deprivation and stress; sleep disorders, weight fluctuations and exhaustion are common complaints.

"A lot of bloggers," explains Hilton, "they start to blog for fun. And for some lucky bloggers, it kind of turns into a way that they can make money.

"On the flip side, there's also people that will start blogs with the sole intention of making money. And some of the people in this New York Times article that ran this past weekend, that passed away, they fell into that other category where they were working for other people -- so they were bloggers for hire. And I think that could maybe add a little extra layer of stress.

"You know, I feel really lucky that I'm my own boss, and I work so hard because I want to work so hard."

With two "Red Bull" cans clearly visible in the background, the blogger does acknowledge that his career has caused him to gain weight, and the Times article highlights exactly why he has enlisted the help of a personal trainer and taken dietary precautions to ensure that he doesn't meet the same fate as those profiled.

Perez sees a difference between himself and other bloggers in that he doesn't concern himself with aspects such as site traffic; he does, incidentally, get between eight and nine million hits daily.

"All I'm concerned about," he says, "is having a good time and entertaining my readers."

The following clip is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast April 7, 2008.



Transcript via closed captions

Kiran Chetry: The world of professional blogging it is a caffeine-fuelled, always-on career. But the pressure of being first can take a toll on a person's health. In the past three months two well-known bloggers have died of heart attacks. Others complain about dealing with weight gain and exhaustion. Joining us is Perez Hilton, the founder of perezhilton.com. He says he works 16 to 18 hour days. He is up with us already. It is only 5:45 in the morning from his home office web cam in Los Angeles. Thank you for being here.

Perez Hilton: thank you. I'm usually up about 4:00 a.m. pacific time every day, except Saturday and Sunday when I sleep in until maybe 8:00.

Kiran Chetry: I don't know when you sleep because we check your blog a lot. Your blog is controversial but you can't help yourself, you have to look at it. You have new stuff posted all the time. You work solely by yourself?

Perez Hilton: Yeah. And it's a lot of pressure to constantly keep it updated because I think I've spoiled my readers into expecting that. I think one of the reasons why my website is so popular is that the Internet, you know, it's all about eyeballs and they want new information constantly.

Kiran Chetry: The other thing with the blogs is that as you said there really is no time that you put it to bed. There's no newspaper, okay, we're going to print right now. We get a little break. It's a 24-hour situation. It's exploded. People look to blogged for information and for exchange of ideas. Why then are we not seeing more of these bloggers and more of the websites hiring additional people, for example, why haven't you expanded your staff?

Perez Hilton: Well, I did, I hired my sister to be my assistant. So, I'm starting off slowly. You know, I think for a lot of bloggers they start to blog for fun. And for some lucky bloggers it turns into a way that they can make money. On the flipside, there are also people that will start blogs with the sole intention of making money. Some of the people in this "New York Times" article that ran this past weekend that passed away fell into the other category where they were working for other people. So they were bloggers for hire. I think that could act a little extra layer of stress. I feel really lucky that I'm my own boss and I work so hard because I want to work so hard.

Kiran Chetry: Let me ask you about it, speaking of level of stress, because not only do you have to post all the time, you have to keep track of all of the celebrities that you cover in not only Los Angeles but in New York. But you are also controversial; you get in trouble at times, right? You have had a couple of lawsuits, photographers claim that you've posted pictures of theirs that are copyright. You have to deal with, I guess, criticism and controversy as well. Does that add to the stress of what you do?

Perez Hilton: Not really because I have really good lawyers. So, they take that stress off of me. I honestly love what I do. And the reason I'm not as stressed as others is because maybe some other bloggers some, some other websites are obsessed with their traffic. I'm not. all I'm concerned about is having a good time and entertaining my readers. And thankfully, I have yet to reach a point where my website traffic has plateaued. I mean, it kind of amazes me that i'm getting between 8 and 9 million readers a day worldwide every day.

Kiran Chetry: It is amazing that you are still doing that by yourself. Do you buy into the premise of the article that this career track or this path is perhaps more detrimental to one's health than other jobs where people spend a lot of time working on their career?

Perez Hilton: No, I definitely think there's some validity to it. I'm taking it to heart. in the past couple of months I've made changes in my own life to focus on my health. one thing that bloggers do have in common that work full time on the internet is that they are chained to their computer. So, I personally like some of the people mentioned in that article, did gain a lot of weight. So, I have been working out with a trainer, getting my meals delivered, because I want to get healthy and in shape because I don't want to have heart disease or want to die earlier than I should.

Kiran Chetry: I want to ask you one other quick question because I've been curious. Do these celebrities contact you especially the ones you are really tough on, the ones that you write not so nice things about? Do they e-mail you and ask you to remove those or interact with you as well?

Perez Hilton: Yeah, I mean I've had everything from both extremes. I've had Avril Lavigne call me upset that I'm writing not so nice things about her. And then I've had celebrities who pitch me stories and want me to write about them.

Kiran Chetry: we've come a long way from Entertainment Tonight and magazines. Perez Hilton, blogger, perezhilton.com. Thank you for getting up with us this morning.

Perez Hilton: my pleasure. I would love to do it again.







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Originally published on Monday April 7, 2008.


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