Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why I'm a Loser, part 23,748.

During my latest financial meltdown (as opposed to all the previous financial meltdowns), several people have suggested that I should -- to use the current terminology, which makes my teeth grind -- monetize my blog. I am, after all, such a great writer, etc., etc., blahblahblah.

All y'all know what that means: pick topics that show up in search engines, run ads, add a "donation" button, write several times a day, engage in endless self-promotion (which means reading, quoting and commenting on a horde of similar blogs, scattering links to me like grains of rice).... Then sit back and watch the ol' spondulix roll in.

It's not that easy.

I did do some snooping around to see how it's done. What I found did not exactly inspire me to take the Big Leap and Put It All Out There for advertisers (and readers) to lap up like a horde of thirsty kittycats gathering around the milk bowl.

I found things I could write about (and, in some cases, have written about). But I also found compelling reasons to maintain my blog as-is, which is as a place where I can vent and write about me when the mood strikes.

So here are the likely prospects, with my take on each:

1. NEWS AGGREGATION: These are sites like the Drudge Report, which exist only to provide links to other peoples' work. Since I don't give a happy damn about gossip and pop culture, I'd miss half the links that seem to be hot for readers right from the git-go. The rest would be repetitions of every other aggregator's links. Not exactly what I'd want to do;

2. POLITICAL BLOGS: Yes, I read some on a pretty regular basis and yes, I do have strong beliefs and opinions. Problem is, what I'd want to say (or could say with the necessary clear conscience and straight face) would not fit the model demanded by readers of political blogs. Liberal or conservative, one must adhere to the Party Line; any deviations produce howls of outrage from readers and greatly diminished web traffic. To me, the result is a kind of lock-step conformity that I simply can't make myself fit into, a case of my-way-or-the-highway absolutism at its worst.

3. MY OWN AREA OF EXPERTISE, now sadly unused by any clients: (I'm still unsure why I can't bring myself to come right out with it. Guess I'm still trying to preserve an anonymity that no longer exists.) The situation on the Interwebz mirrors that of the world of print publications: Amateurs have invaded the scene, all searching for what I used to have (various freebies, including products to evaluate, fancy travel, and so on). They broadcast their opinions which are, in my immodest, defiantly non-humble view, uninformed and badly expressed. The sites I've seen either reprint press handouts (unthinkable when I started in the game) or, worse, talk about the subject without any context or background knowledge. Or, they steal from established writers (like I used to be).

4. HUMOR: I can't draw, so cartoons are out. Likewise, when I'm trying for laffs, I am about as funny as a direct meteor strike on a Big City. Some people got it, and some don't got it. I don't got it.

PARENTHETICAL WHAT-IT-ALL-BOILS-DOWN-TO NOTE: The biggest weakness of the Internet is its instant-communication nature. Both news and analysis/commentary must hit the webs within moments of any event. Neither I nor anyone else can offer coherent and consistent opinions at the speed of electrons whizzing down cables. Information must be processed before it can be understood, must churn around in the brain before the typing fingers go to work. So-called "livebloggers" don't get this.

So there, in abbreviated form (as if my writing is ever "abbreviated"), is why a "monetized" blog would earn me an income in the high single digits. Through heredity or environment, I am constitutionally unable to play the kind of game that would make me successful in a world of short attention spans and acceptance of badly researched "facts" (see: Wikipedia, as massive a source of errors and outright misleading "information" as has ever existed).

I've always been ready and willing to sell out. If someone wants to pay for my take on any subject, I'm on hand. What I can't do is compromise on what I consider the basics: background, real research, taking the time to write well -- at least using proper English and spelling, except when I deliberately violate the rules of style for effect -- and what, for lack of a better word, I can only call integrity.

That doesn't make me particularly noble, of course. Mainly, it means I'm a lousy whore who can't peddle my, well, "product" in the Internet Age.

Being an irrelevant dinosaur ain't easy or fun, Jim.


Breath-e said...

At least the "whore" comment was funny...

Anonymous said...

There is so much out there, I don't know how internet writers make it on the web. Some do. My friend had a great blog and wrote a few books that she self published. I don't think she could have totally supported herself. So many factors.

becomingkate said...

I often wonder how much one of those makes...although even in the last year (when we couldn't afford food, let alone the power to cook it) I just couldn't put ads on the page. Also, I was too depressed to write much!

KIT said...

I love your writing, monetized or not - and I hope you keep it up.