Advance warning: this is another one of those posts, which I seem to do about once a year, about why I have a blog, should I have a blog, why the hell do I keep doing this? So if it's a topic that bores you, move along. It would bore me, too, except it's my blog, you know.
So when I started this, it never even occurred to me that it might be a money-making proposition. It was 2003, and blogs were relatively new, and aside from a few professional blogs run by journalists or organizations, nobody was doing it for money.
But blogs are money-making ventures now--at least for some people--and where money goes, people follow. For the past couple of years now, everyone is interested in making money off their blogs. Which leads to bloggers who have been financially successful writing posts about how to do it.
Which leads to lots of posts that are entirely disdainful, even contemptuous, of personal blogs. You have to have an angle, they say, secure in the knowledge that since their blog is financially successful, it is inherently more valuable than one that isn't. No no wants to read about your kids and your pets except your mother. You have to have a topic, something that keeps people coming back, something that draws people in, because making money from your blog requires readers. Lots of readers.
The first time I read one of those posts was a couple of years ago at Jennifer Crusie's blog, ArghInk. She listed the reasons why you should have a blog, and all of them were about marketing: creating an internet presence, a personal "brand," a forum for publicizing your work (which she always did very gently, her blog is not about advertising)(I used past tense because I haven't read her blog in a long time, but I'm sure she is still as lowkey as ever).
But there was no mention of people who blog because they just have something to say that they want to say in a public place. Not one word about the urge I sometimes feel--a literal compulsion--to sit down and type out what I'm thinking. I've written several posts in the last couple of months that felt exactly like that. Like I couldn't rest until the words were out there.
On the one hand, this is fine with me. I've got my silly little blog here, with loyal readers for whom I am eternally grateful, and those writers have their "successful" blogs, with thousands of readers and a monthly check. In a way, it's two entirely different things. There are people like me, who just want to have their little public
space for their personal thoughts, and people who aspire to be
professionals, to be able to make a living by writing. And that's why I completely understand that some people do want to (or need to) make money off their blog.
That's easy to say. But then I read something by a professional blogger (like Crusie) that I admire and I realize how entirely silly--even pointless-- this blog would be in their eyes. And since the blogs I read are usually people that I admire, it's a little demoralizing.
Sometimes I just bang out a post about the pets or whatever, but usually I sweat over what I write here. It's not ever going to make money, but it means something to me. And occasionally I write something that seems to mean something to one of you, which is like chocolate icing on top of an eclair that's already pretty good.
So to run that metaphor right into the ground, I occasionally have to remind myself to just relax and enjoy the eclair for what it is, and not get all uptight that I don't have an eclair business with a fat bottom line and people lining up down the street to buy them. Hmmmm. I really shouldn't have gone there.
And even that isn't really the problem. I never intended to make money from writing here; the fact that I don't is truly OK with me. The real problem is knowing that what I'm doing here seems silly, pointless, and even embarrassing to people whose opinion matters to me. That's the real problem.
So that's why about once a year I write one of these, to remind myself to have thick skin and do my own thing, and let other people's opinions just roll off my back. It's not as easy as I'd like it to be.