Here we go again. Another week, another “revolution”, another “rebel” stirrs things up.
To paraphrase a line from a movie …
“He’s not a rebel, he is a very naughty boy.”
Ideas should be free, says the latest link-bait, attack-post, call-to-arms, etc. Whatever.
It seems even in 2010 there are still people out there who think that bloggers should not profit from their content. Somehow they have come to the conclusion that even advertisements and affiliate links are unethical. We are, they think, bound to some “journalistic” standard.
Ethics in Blogging
The people who last are people who share the good stuff. They have their audience foremost in their minds.
Unethical is when you implant spyware onto a users computer, or use high pressure sales tactics to sell crap. Telling people about something you genuinely believe in and might be a great solution then allowing the reader to make up their own mind is just, well, helpful.
It’s a fair exchange.
We give lots of stuff away, and nobody has to read it. People have won contracts from using my free content, they tell me this all the time. No, I don’t ask for a percentage 🙂
Bloggers as Journalists
I am not a journalist and have never wanted to be. While I have nothing against journalists, and in fact have a great deal of respect for people who persue the standards and ideals of a true journalist, that is not something I have any interest in following myself. It’s not for me.
You can tell that the life of a journalist is not for me by the way I mangle the English language each week on this site. Sometimes I get through an entire post without a typo or grammar error, but not often.
I wouldn’t call myself a “reporter” either, which is a name Chris Brogan has used (in addition to “typist”) because I very rarely talk about the news or stuff that has happened, I don’t feel I “report”.
Why We Blog
You might want to spread ideas, talk to family, record your thoughts, win business, or you might want to make money directly. There is no right or wrong way so long as you are doing it for the best of intentions, whatever motivates you is all good.
It could be you do not set out to make money but have ads and affiliate links in order to support your hobby. Nothing wrong with that either. Monetization is not a dirty word (an ugly word, but not a dirty one). Someone paying for the content somehow helps keep content free for the reader.
Why hold new media to a higher standard than any other media? If Simon Cowell holds up a Coke branded cup on American Idol that certainly isn’t going to be the thing that makes me switch channels, and I am not going to write to my member of parliment about it.
My blogging is about giving people tips, ideas, stories that either make you think, understand something in a new way, or know how to do something useful. That’s not leadership, it’s just trying to be of value. Can’t recall ever describing myself as a thought-leader, even in jest.
My Awesome Business Model
You could describe me as a blogger, perhaps a Pro Blogger, even though my writing is not all that professional. Or a writer. Maybe. I have, after all, got my name in print a few times (somehow).
It took me a while to agree with Liz Strauss when she called me a teacher and I do struggle with labels, but if anything I am a teacher. My goal with clients is often to put myself out of work. Instead of doing the commodity implementation I teach them how to do stuff internally so they don’t need external contractors for every little thing.
As a business I train people and I am a marketing consultant. It says that right on this page. My site is subtitled “The business of blogging and new media” after all.
With that in mind you should not be surprised that my goal is not entirely altruistic. I co-authored a book about writing for money. It kind of means I picked a side in this debate.
I create what I hope is valuable in order to fairly earn from this value. If I do enough of a good job then you might consider buying either one of my own products or services, or one of the products I support and recommend and get a commission for. Or maybe you will tell someone else about my awesomeness.
If you don’t want to that’s fine too. People seem to imply that a blogger writing with the intention of earning an income is somehow unethical and not trustworthy. This seems odd to me. Does the fact that Seth Godin sells books discount his ideas? Uh, heck no.
Could my business continue without this blog? Sure. But I don’t want to.
I’m not going to give up a great marketing channel that is fun to work on because some other blogger has hallucinated what is the right way to do it. I will keep this blog going as long as enough people find it useful and a few people each month are willing to shell out dollars for extra stuff. If things continue positively I will be able to continue paying my mortgage (and now in addition to my mortgage, my rent!) and put food on the table. Glamourous stuff like that.
My business is sustained by me finding people with a challenge I can help with, and demonstrating my expertise and knowledge, to the point where people are willing to trust me to take the next step. I call it Authority Blogging but it happens just as much offline as it does on. The tactics change but the strategy remains.
It’s a nice business and it works. Customers are happy and I am happy. Why change?
It’s actually a good thing when people disagree, it helps us clarify our own thoughts. If they don’t like you and unsubscribe they are doing you a favour because you won’t waste any time on them in future.
Unfortunately we do give the bad unfluences energy and attention because they are talented at getting noticed. The people telling you “You’re doing it wrong” the loudest don’t have your interests at heart. By feeding the trolls and linking to them we just give them more juice to distract people from what is really important.
Remember what you are doing this for. What is more important? Some angry stranger off the internets or persuing your goals while giving people genuinely valuable content? Thought so.
Keep doing what works, makes you happy, and helps people. Ignore the critics.