Photo by Alice Popkorn.
If one part of blogging has suffered in the last year or two, it’s blogging as an end rather than a means.
Creating a blog for the sake of watching it grow, entertaining people, helping people, and making something you could be proud of.
This blog started out in that spirit, and my best blogging days were the early ones, where I cared only about content and quality and writing things that people read. Things that helped people sometimes.
Then, collectively, we discovered that blogs could be powerful tools for making money. For many, posts became more about the ad impressions and affiliate sales they generated than about putting something of quality into the world.
Some people held out (I did for a while), but soon people discovered that there were ways to make money without ads and affiliate marketing, like freelancing or book deals or speaking gigs (and this is where it got me).
The bloggers measuring ad impressions and click-throughs were joined by bloggers counting Twitter followers and consulting gigs.
Then we discovered info products and courses, ways to make money by teaching. We’re good at teaching, and it’s more fun to make products than tweak AdSense, and products make more money than ads do.
The measure of a post’s success moved from ad impressions and affiliate commissions to eBook sales and course sign-ups.
In some cases, the content on formerly high-quality blogs turned into an endless stream of thinly veiled pre-launch material, where every new post has an ulterior motive and every word is another part of the sales process.
This sounds like a condemnation, but if it is, I’m condemning myself. I lost my passion for blogging for a long time because it changed into something I saw as the ‘I’ in ROI, part of building my personal brand (and all the while, the most popular and well-loved post on this guru’s blog is about putting Flickr images in blog posts!).
I started blogging to create and learn and teach, I stopped blogging because half of me got angry at myself for doing things to make money, and the other half was frustrated when I didn’t.
I’m not angry at myself for this, nor am I angry at other bloggers who’ve fallen into the same rut, but are much better marketers than me and have more confidence in what they’re doing, and so spent more time making sales than hesitating over the keyboard.
We’ve got mortgages and sometimes kids and we all need money desperately, so if it’s a choice between making money and feeling fuzzy, we’ll make money.
But the hard sell comes at a cost, and many bloggers have lost touch with why they started blogging, and the goals they hoped to achieve before they knew making money was possible.
It happens because we see money and freedom as one and the same. Most of us are not chasing luxury cars and designer clothes.
We want to earn money so we don’t have to worry about money, so we can do the things we like doing when money is taken out of the equation.
We work our butts off to reach an idyllic point where we don’t have to worry anymore, a mental state also shared with people who don’t earn a whole lot of money but want less (and smaller) stuff. The latter group tend to be the happiest people you’ll meet.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that you’ll get more happiness from your blog if you see it as something that has value and meaning in its own right, rather than being food for a very hungry sales-machine.
When I say happiness, I’m talking about the lasting kind. The kind that contributes to a life well-lived.
Do what you need to earn a living, but this month, do some things you’re proud of that don’t have a hope of earning you money.
Spend a few hours you’d usually spend marketing helping people who are not your target market, even indirectly, to the nth degree.
Write a post about something you know nothing about, but would like to learn. Start something from scratch without leveraging what you already have.
Do you remember what it feels like to create for its own sake?
Make less money and more happiness.
Sell less, help people more.
Market less, create more.