Embrace the brokeness

You want to know what’s really killing the blog? The lure of micropayments:

[I]t’s essentially impossible to have any discussion about blogging without that discussion turning toward, not blogging, but rewards for blogging — readership and pagerank and ads and Adsense clicks, and all of those numeric metrics that can add up to making more money from ads or selling products or selling the blog itself.

Many bloggers chase that reward, focusing the entire blogging effort on increasing their Adsense payments from enough money to buy a burger a month, to enough money to buy a burger a week. The entire value of what should be a joyous creative-effort is reduced, in perception, to a few dollars. And if the reward stays at a few dollars, or in fact never goes above a few pennies, they feel stupid, like they’re suckers.

Even when a blogger doesn’t actually care about money, the measure of a blog is still often based on the measures that produce money — readers, page views, pagerank.

Yeah, I watch those measures myself. But I assure you, they don’t make me a dime. In fact, my current stat service costs me $100 a year, more than the cost of actually running the site after I cash in my various referrals and kickbacks. Still, in an average month, I will churn out 15,000 words and lose about a tenth of a cent on each and every one of them. Since I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years — well, I must be making it up in volume, right?

If I were going to monetize (Jeebus, I hate that word) this stuff, I’d do it the hard way: bind it into a book or three. For the moment, though, while it’s certainly time-consuming, it’s not what I’d call budget-depleting. And if push comes to shove, I can always borrow the five most important words in the English language: “Hit the freaking tip jar!”

Oh, wait. I don’t have one of those, either.



  1. Roger Green »

    26 October 2015 · 4:46 am

    Amen, brother.

  2. fillyjonk »

    26 October 2015 · 6:11 am

    I similarly hate the word, “Monetize.”

    Do people no longer believe in intangible rewards? I get a lot of those from blogging. (Then again, I was also one of those kids whose parents didn’t give me cash for earning As, unlike some of my peers, so I may have lacked early training in monetization.)

  3. Chuck »

    26 October 2015 · 10:06 am

    Thank you. I have considered ‘monetizing’ my blog, but I suspected it wouldn’t generate any money worth mentioning, but it would contribute to Google’s fortune, and they already have enough money, don’t they? Besides, I don’t think you get paid for just having ads on your page, you only get paid if someone clicks on them, and that ain’t right. They’re taking up space, they should pay.

    More and more these days I think I blog just because I need to clear my head. Whether anyone is listening or not is immaterial.

    And from my point of view, the only things worth spending money on are hydrocarbons, like alcohol and gasoline. Everything else can be scrounged.

  4. McGehee »

    26 October 2015 · 10:11 am

    Send ’em to my site where they can hit the @#$!!ing swear jar.

  5. McGehee »

    26 October 2015 · 10:18 am

    Besides, I don’t think you get paid for just having ads on your page, you only get paid if someone clicks on them

    I had Google ads for a while years ago. They kicked me out for calling my readers’ attention to them and suggesting they take a look at what the advertisers had to offer.

    Now, TV advertisers pay for the air time and given the format that makes sense. On a blog I’d think the appropriate way to compensate an ad host would be a cut of any purchases resulting from a click on the ads. Amazon’s old “associates” program did this by appending the ad host’s ID to the URL for the duration of the clicker’s shopping visit.

    Google’s model is clearly idiotic precisely because you aren’t allowed to try to help your advertsier sell their product. It ends up being dead clutter on the host’s website. What’s the point?

  6. SK Waller »

    26 October 2015 · 3:29 pm

    Between “monetizing” and social networks blogging never stood a chance. It’s a shame, too, because for a moment in time people had actually started reading and writing again. As for me and my blog, I never had and will never have paid ads.

  7. CGHill »

    26 October 2015 · 3:49 pm

    I figure I’m happy to have my own soapbox; I don’t need it subsidized by anyone.

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