It seems everywhere I turn lately on the internet, people are looking to make money.
Some of it is on unproven skills — I see lots of amateur writers (I count myself among the amateurs) trying to ask me to donate to their blogs when I stumble upon them while looking for content to consume, people who have obviously not been doing writing for very long. Or, outright pay-gating their content without offering me up anything to judge their writing by before sending them money. It seems strange when I see either case, but that’s maybe because I never sat down and figured that my act of writing deserved payment just because I write. I always figured if I wrote something worthy of payment, someone would say, “Hey dude, let me pay you for that because that there is damn good writing.” Or offer me a contract to write for them if it was good enough. At most, I would self-publish something folks had seen early drafts of so they could decide if it was worth their money. Or give lengthy excerpts of the item for sale. Maybe I’d just do a pay-what-you-want-to-pay like Humble Bundle does.
You see, even if I did ever decide to pay-gate some of my content here, 95% of what I write would still be free content. As I said to @taracaribou the other day, knowing that someone enjoys what I create is often payment enough. No, I won’t get rich off of that kind of attitude, but most people who think they should be paid for creating content of any quality level (including that of the questionable variety) are not very likely to get rich off their content either.
But each to their own — this is not a criticism so much as to point out that if you want to be paid, you need to earn it and I see far too many writers thinking they don’t even have to earn it. Instead, they play the follow-me game, using that sense of guilt people have when they don’t reciprocate a follow. Now, that, dear readers, is a criticism. My mother was an expert at giving the gift of Catholic guilt and, if she can’t make me feel guilty, I am not going to be made to feel guilty by a stranger about not following them just so they can increase their “follower” numbers. Yes — “follow me” to create a sense of legitimacy is a common scam. And is usually driven by ad revenue.
Combine this with a scene I saw on American Idol (one of those rare times I had the television on in the background — I dislike TV and loath reality TV) that made me stand in place mouth agape. Fully aware of my own talents as a singer (umm, zilch), I was amazed and appalled at the person auditioning. They hit no discernable note on a chromatic scale and I’ve heard cats in heat sound more melodic. I sound better on my bad days. Simon was facepalming and the judges make quick work of deciding to send her on her merry way. I would have walked away at that point, but then they interviewed her on exit because she was nail-spitting mad about not making it to the next round. She stood there and said that the judges didn’t see talent when they heard it, because all her friends and family told her she was an awesome, badass singer [insert head-swivel]. I let that sink in. Then I spoke to the TV, which is something I do when I forget I’m talking to a TV: “Honey, those were no friends if they told you that you were a badass singer and encouraged you to come and audition.”
If you ever hear me snort when someone says whatever I wrote is good, it’s because I remember that moment. I don’t trust my own talents — if there is any talent to be worthy of note.
Back to money, however, I’ve been blogging since before Blogger or WordPress were even created, and more people than have a right to be, have this “monetization” fever. Charge for content outright, or plaster you site with annoying and obtrusive ads and hope clickbait gets you enough ad hits to make money, ride the SEO train… I decided very early on that the angst that went with monetization was just not worth the effort.
Because — I don’t much trust money. I like it when I have it, but that doesn’t mean I trust it. It’s one of those global mass illusions that people around the world have succumbed to — the idea that a number in a bank account or a piece of government-printed paper denotes “value” of something or another. But it’s tricky stuff and not very loyal. Value is only in how much someone desires what you have or can do. It can evaporate in seconds — the moment that something loses it’s perceived value, the money disappears with that value.
Then, to add to my feelings about money, at least with respect to my own writing, is that I’ve always seen writing as a bit of a spiritual exercise. My music too. I do both because my soul is reaching out to touch the universe: not to be popular, or make money, or to get kudos. And I’ve paraphrased a writer in the past who said that things of a spiritual nature can neither be bought nor sold; to do so cheapens them and makes them less spiritual.
So I have a hard time imagining what it is to “monetize” this site or my writing. I’ve said that if I could justify it, I would consider pay-gating some content, but I haven’t found a way to justify such things. I prefer to let things happen as they happen and evolve organically. If I was meant to find money in this writing habit of mine, I’m pretty sure it would come to me indirectly — not because I foisted ads on you, asked for donations or put a paywall up to withhold content.
So, please continue to let me know if I am succeeding in touching your heart. It is often more valuable than any other payment I could hope to ask of you.
Screw the money for nothing — I want those chicks for free.