I'm about to cross the 20k views line on this blog. And, for what it's worth, this is a clean blog. All of the traffic is organic. And, of course, I'd like that number to continue to grow. I know I'm not the only one doing what I'm doing, so maybe all of you fellow creatives, writers, marketers can weigh in here as well...
But I have been faced with a dilemma.
As a person who would like to create content to share my ideas and point of view for the rest of my life, I'm obviously thinking about how to make a living from doing that. It would be stupid not to. I'd probably have to get a full-time job or something if I stopped...
Over the past two years, I've tried different avenues such as running traditional ads, creating branded and promoted posts on my old blog, as well as consulting for brands and media channels to create and produce content for them, which was not in conjunction with my web presence at all (mostly this).
Social media is a collection of consumer-level distribution channels at its core. It has ushered in the age of content marketing. And with that, it becomes more difficult to separate advertising from independent opinion. The intents of bloggers and online publishers -- who are, ever-increasingly, the brands themselves -- are less and less distinct. The marriage between brands and content producers has made for some some great opportunities (sure), but it's also saturated the internet with cursorily-disguised attempts to sell from every angle and at all times.
Becoming successful as a blogger has devolved in some ways to mean being able to monetize your taste -- turn your readers into consumers for products that you're creating content around for a fee or a cut. This is fine. But it's not what I want to do. Let me explain...
But first, an observation on my audience here: I've noticed a phenomenon with the content I've been publishing here and the audience I'm developing. For starters, how YOU, my readers, are engaging with what I write is, in many ways, very private.
I receive a healthy number of comments and questions, most of which are privately emailed, tumblr'd, and/or facebook'ed my way. This is awesome. Please keep doing this -- it fuels my content here and...uh....makes me feel like less of a fucking weirdo. Given this trend, I feel it would be unfit (and even rude in some ways) to run traditional advertisements on this blog -- an invasion of privacy, almost.
You've also cited the voice of this blog. And that is extremely important to me.
So, back to the issue at hand, which is making a living with integrity. Like I said, I don't want to monetize my taste. I like my taste, but frankly, I could hardly care less about having the same taste as anyone else. In short, I'd like to write and make cool shit. I'd like to continue to evolve and create content for (at least) the internet. And I'd like to do it on my own terms. If other people like the stuff I make -- awesome. We can hang out, have a party, and discuss. Virtually or otherwise.
But I will never write or make something that feels devoid of value to me. If this means that I'll never be able to bring you a "very personal moment care of BRAND X," so be it. If so, this blog will be devoid of branded content. However, if there are projects where I feel like I can add something unique to this series of tubes that has value beyond creating the desire to buy something, great. Let's do it.
But I have a fucking opinion. And I left my corporate job in 2011 looking for freedom of expression. And I have come too far to turn back now, internets. I'm simply not willing to stop having an opinion just to be marketable.
In summary, I have decided that this blog will be 100% ad-free.
It will also be product-placement free unless I am able to create a piece of original content that has inherent expressive and/or discursive value (i.e. not just marketing value for the brand).
That said, I'm specifically interested in creating short video content and, as usual, editorials.
I'm on a steep learning curve right now. But, I have made a life of being able to start running; build somethings from nothings, over and over and as needed. The "nothing" phase is NOT comfortable. But, so far, it hasn't killed me. It hurts so good. I'm going to keep doing it. Cool? Cool.