ON MAKING MONEY BLOGGING

My history with blogging is almost as long as my history writing paid content on the various blogs I’ve owned. My original motivation wasn’t to make money or even become part of a community. I simply wanted a place to “journal” as a writing exercise. It was 2006. MySpace was the popular social network and I began blogging there. Around the same time, I saw a magazine article about Ted Murphy‘s wild idea: PayPerPost.

PayPerPost succeeded, eventually evolving into one service of many offered by social media marketing company Izea. Anyone interested in monetizing a blog would do well to start with Izea, but I am not here to write about how to make money blogging. For one thing, I am no expert.

I have come a long way since that first MySpace blog. Nerdbliss is the third home of my personal blog. I used to have a blog about “internet, blogging and tech” stuff. I just recently began seriously blogging again after a long dry spell and have launched OgleFood.

What I tell those non-bloggers in my life who ask, I’ve never made enough money blogging to make it worth doing if I wouldn’t do it for free. It’s true. I’d always said, my only goal was to make enough to pay for hosting. For a while I made a steady if modest sum. The assignments kept me going because it made me feel like blogging was important. And, hey, money helps.

Since killing my last blog, I haven’t made a dime. I’d hardly blogged. I thought about canceling my hosting plan, giving up once and for all. Instead, I waited out my writer’s block and appear to have found my blogging mojo. I’m blogging for the reasons I am most motivated by: saying my piece, having a “home” on the web, and getting feedback on my writing.

Astute readers may have noticed the beginning of some sponsored content appearing. I’m thrilled. I do, however, worry about the “lack of integrity” argument I’ve seen over the years from some bloggers who would not accept sponsorship or even products to review. I read plenty of those bloggers and respect their choice. Most of those concerns are covered in my disclosure policy, but I do feel it necessary to talk about why I do what I do.

The investment of time in blogging, not just writing but updating technical do-dads and networking to build readership, is substantial. I hope to provide something of value. I want to not just write, but be read. In order to continue investing, I do feel treating my blogging as a business is the best option. It’s like a weirdly egotistical magazine which revolves around me and publishes my writing almost exclusively. No one balks at print or digital magazines and newspapers having ads. Others may be motivated in other ways, but for me, it’s the dream I had as long as I can remember to be a “real” writer which keeps me going. I may never be published in a physical format and am unlikely to ever be able to quit my day job. Still, I’m happy with knowing I’m putting myself out there in a creative way. The return on investment sweetens the pot.

I worry a little that readers and friends will be put off by sponsored content. I don’t care for banner ads and visual clutter, so I’ll try to keep that kind of thing to a minimum. Inserting links with keywords or writing about a product or website is my preference. I try to keep it interesting and as much like my “regular” content as possible.

I hope anyone reading this post sticks with me as I attempted to keep my mojo trucking along.

BEEN PUTTING OFF POSTING ON PROCRASTINATION

I am so darn good at procrastinating. Take, for example, what I have done since typing the first to sentence of this post. I got up and made tea, watched a bit of a Star Trek: TNG with Chris, replied to a text message from Alex, checked Twitter and Facebook including a group I participate in, drank tea and ate a packet of Lance Toast Chee. To make it worse, I went and found the links to insert in the above sentence rather than finishing the post first. I managed to do so with minimal web surfing, only stopping to read the latest in my Twitter feed and click the “Like” buttons on the Lance website. Who doesn’t like oddly named crackers?

There is a point to explaining all those little tasks which kept me from writing. Writing, particularly blogging, is something I enjoy. When the words are flowing in full screen mode, it is a delight to watch the blank space fill up. As the length of my posts shows, I am seldom at a loss for words once I get going. While no writer, or artist of any kind, is ever totally without apprehension at calling a piece finished, I’m relatively satisfied with the completed product when I hit publish. I am, essentially, delaying and denying myself a great source of pleasure and positive feelings.

Blogging, is, of course, not the only thing I put off in impressive feats of procrastination. Housework, work-work, making doctors appointments, shaving my legs, and even going to bed at night. I am, if I do say so myself, a world class procrastinator.

I am enabled by a world more filled with distractions than ever. Of the things I did during the writing of the first paragraph, most of them include technology not available in my days as a young procrastinator. Even worse, I count all of the things I did as valid things to do. Facebook and Twitter, text messages and Netflix are all important parts of my life both for entertainment and keeping up with friends and family. Social networking is an aspect of blogging even because otherwise I’m talking to no one. See, the other part of procrastination at which I excel is justifying my stalling tactics.

My skill at procrastination is never far from my mind. At the end of the day, I often wish I’d accomplished more. I suspect modern life with endless revolving must-do and want-to-do lists makes the feeling common. Still, I know it must be possible to make better use of my time.

I was reminded of an article I’d read in Psychology Today when Renee commented on a quote I used in my post about starting a new diet. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is one of my favorite principals from The Happiness Project. (By the way, Kate, I think I’ll be ordering you a new copy rather than returning the one you lent. Not today, but I promise not to put it off forever.) The article on the link between procrastination and perfectionism could have been a case study in my worst traits.

In a nutshell, the perfectionist fears falling to meet her own impossibly high standards, therefore avoids the task and risk of failure. See why “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is so important?

Applying the principle back to blogging, I’ve read thousands of blog posts in my years in the blogging community. Some so good I feel I’d never live up. Some so bad I fear even one person thinks as poorly of my writing as I do of theirs. I don’t worry so much, for example, about spelling (thanks to spell check) or grammar (I’ve got this whole English thing down). I worry more about coming off as boring. Or too wordy. If I don’t write the post, it can’t suck. If I don’t blog at all, I don’t have to judge myself by my standards of how I ought to be as a blogger. Obviously, with writing, the judgement is subjective. I want to be interesting to people I find interesting. I want to make my ideas clear. I try, at my best moments, to make sure enough of me comes through what I write so people who like me as a person, in real life or online, will also like my posts.

In the name of both blogging and fighting those perfectionism-procrastination tenancies, I have my next post planned as a sort of live blog of a procrastination test from Psychology Today as my next post complete with commentary. The original plan had been to include it in this post and while I’ve no intention to tackle my problem (if it’s a problem) with overly long posts today, even I’m hesitant to push past a thousand words.

Ironically, one of my favorite ways to dink around on the internet instead of doing whatever it is I ought to be doing is taking quizzes. Oh, Blogthings, how you get me every time. Hopefully, the test is more revealing than discovering what flavor ice cream I am.

And, hopefully, I won’t put off doing it. As they say, stay tuned to find out.

WHAT’S MISSING?

 

I’ve got to say: My life is grand.
My best friend Kate sent me home from her house with a The Happiness Project to read on the flight home. In the book, Gretchen Rubin takes readers along as she spends a year exploring happiness with scholarly zeal and scientific curiosity. It’s a good read and got me thinking about happiness without feeling like a self help book. Her point wasn’t cultivating happiness as a cure for clinical depression. By her own admission, her life was good when she began thinking about happiness. Her project wasn’t about changing her life, but about being happier in life.

 

One concept from the book I latched onto was how happiness unexamined is less valuable. If you don’t think you’re happy, how can you be happy? The other side of the argument is if you have to ask wither you are happy, are you?  For me, thinking about happiness and what works or what doesn’t in my life is important. I’ve been some scary places ignoring unhappiness and depression. I’d plugged away at life. I’m not in that place anymore, but I’m ever aware of my relationship with happiness and stress. I think of it as being mindful – checking in with myself as if to ask “does this make you happy, Tina?”

I’d really love to read the book again, take some notes and share some thoughts here on my blog. I’ve subscribed to Gretchen’s blog, but haven’t played with all the toys and tools on her website yet. I’m undecided as to wither I intend to start my own formalized happiness project anytime soon. I’m busy and happy. My life fits me.

I have only one nagging concern – one missing and neglected piece. I don’t write anymore. It’s easy to see from my blog, I haven’t blogged. I’ve barely even Tweeted. I don’t have a notebook in my purse or nebulous bits of poems in my head. The idea of writing fiction seems as lost a dream as going to Harvard. Reading about Gretchen, lawyer turned writer, talking about doing what you love, but also working through frustration doing things which lead to long term happiness struck a cord. Writing is great… after it’s done. Or those rare times words gush before I’ve even thought about what comes next. Otherwise, it’s work.

I had been thinking on a blogging comeback – and blogging has always been a writing exercise for me – for a while before I took the trip to see Kate.

The question I began to ask myself: Why do I still think I ought to be writing?

The Happiness Project helped me find the answer: I go back to writing when things are bad in my life. Without fail, I look back on every traumatic event immediately followed by the purchase of a new notebook. When I’m happy, I’m busy living. Too busy to slow down and cultivate what is important to the deepest parts of myself? Seems to be a flaw in my logic.

The worst part is how difficult the process becomes when you haven’t kept up. Practice makes perfect. I know full well without discipline comes first in any creative endeavor. Typing out this post has been excruciating, to be honest, and I’ve taken much longer than I intended. What I’m pushing toward is publishing because once I have hit the button, posted to Facebook and Twitter that I have, I’ve accomplished something. One step at a time, I intend to blog consistently enough to call myself a blogger again. I’d love to build on blogging to make words my profession in some form or another.

First, I’m going to go ahead and hit publish.