I was really interested to read Dan’s response to my post yesterday, Pay the Mummy Blogger, and the comments on the post. Rather than adding a long comment here and there, I thought I'd pop it up as a new post. This has the added bonus of making me look EXTRA prolific- yay me!
Being honest – and shoot me down in flames by all means – I detect a whiff of smugness in some comments. “Oh, I don’t take advertising, I don’t review anything, and I would never sully my writing with the dirty scent of money”.
Hmm. I don’t take advertising on this blog. I don’t run reviews, either. I don’t have sponsors. Do I think that makes me a better person or a more ‘authentic’ blogger than someone who does those things? Of course not. I’m fortunate to be in the position to take a long view on blogging. I do it because it raises my profile, and helps me to win writing and PR clients. But not everyone can afford to take that view (or JUST that view), especially in a recession.
Many of the bloggers I speak to do love the writing aspect of blogging and enjoy the camaraderie of the blogging community. But they’re on maternity leave, or they’re unemployed or they’re just finding it tough to make ends meet. So, yes, often they are desperate to find a way to translate the hours they spend blogging into some revenue. I'm not going to judge anyone for that or imply it make them a less valid blogger.
I’m a self-employed single parent with an ex-husband who enjoys a delightfully flexible view of child support. I’m no stranger to emptying out the copper jar to pay the milkman, and if I hadn't had the option of listing The Father's vinyl collection on eBay when I couldn’t pay the mortgage, I wouldn’t have thought twice about putting an ad on a blog.
My post yesterday wasn't about whether freebies are a corrupting influence or a justifiable form of compensation for bloggers' hard work. That's entirely missing the point – which is that micropayments might help some bloggers to generate revenue without running ads or sponsored posts.
This technology is pretty much irrelevant to bloggers who are just writing online memoirs or diaries. But lots of bloggers are creating content that – shock, horror – they would like to make money from. Recipes, patterns, short-stories, web widgets, blog themses, e-books.
For example, let's say you're an aspiring writer. Using this technology you could post a short story in 5 weekly chapters – charging 25p per chapter. If 100 people pay for the whole story, you've made £125. I don't think it's an unworkable model – it worked fine for Charles Dickens after all.
I just really don't like the idea that somehow this contravenes the 'true' spirit of blogging. This isn't Haight Ashbury. The Internet is a broad church and while I love reading personal blogs about families and their experiences, I also love blogs that tell me how to make drop-down menus for my blog, or what I can make for dinner using lamb. And sometimes, I think, I'd be happy to hand over the price of a bag of crisps in return. And if you're a blogger and times are tough, a hundred pound pays for a lot of crisps.