When I tell friends that I have a blog, the question is automatic: “Do you make money out of it?”
Well, no. Look around: as of this writing, I don’t have ads. I don’t have sponsored posts. For one, I don’t know how. For two, I used to be just like every aspiring writer who wrote only for the money.
Before blogging became synonymous with fast money, we bloggers have been derided for being, well, bloggers. Pseudo-journalists, maladjusted psychological stripteasers, manic-depressive self-mutilators. Nowadays, it’s different: blogs start to spring up like mushrooms from the void, all with the intent to make money online. I’m starting to get a wee bit disillusioned nowadays: as it seems, it’s all about the money.
I sure like to get to know about things like pay-per-click and pay-per-post if only to maintain my site for the next few years or so. I myself am interested in making money online, but like I said, I am getting very disillusioned. Is blogging really about the money? Do you blog – heck, do you even write – just because you want to have money?
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I’ve been a student journalist for 11 years and worked freelance in a number of local papers from time to time: I know the business of how to make money by writing. Believe me, in “real world” journalism, it’s hard to come by an assignment. Getting paid in column inches or fixed rates for every monthly issue is not appealing to people, but that’s the way the business goes.
Given my short, limited experience in journalism, I should have a good idea of how much professional bloggers make, compare it to what I make when I work freelance, and automatically choose blogging. The disparity alone justifies the whole idea of why some journalists sideline with their blogs. But all too often, my own perspectives – distorted as they may be to some – frame the whole idea of why I’d rather not write about making money by blogging, even if I knew how to do it.
Back then, I was still too young and too immature to adhere to principles and perspectives I hold now. Everything I wrote back then was framed by money, guided by money, and was all about the money. Money didn’t just motivate me: I didn’t write anything if I wasn’t paid, or that I made a crappy piece if I wasn’t paid enough. I got away with it, all right. After all, nobody knew that I was a puppet for money.
With all the money I could ask for given my job, I became obsessed with the idea of writing for money. I was paid generously given the financial limitations of the papers I worked for, but I wanted more. Pretty soon, I only wrote for the money: money was the singular drive for my writing. I wouldn’t commit myself to writing an essay if it wasn’t an essay-writing contest that had a cash prize. So I continued to win, and in high school, I made a pretty decent livelihood out of joining winnable essay contests that had cash prizes.
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Then, one day out of the blue, I realized what I’ve become. I wasn’t the “writer” I was working hard to be: I was no different from a hired killer, an assassin, a mercenary. In college, there were no more essay contests: I was too old for those youth-oriented contests that I used to win and make money out of. I was – and I still am – not good enough to win that most elusive dream of mine, the Palanca Award. My obsession with money led me to a rut: back in the college paper, money was not always at-hand because we ran into budget overruns. I had to write editorials, columns, and feature articles without the promise of a stipend.
I don’t really know, but that brought the best in me. I no longer looked at writing as a sort of money-making practice: I just looked at writing as a way to constantly try to improve myself, that everytime I write, I practice. It took a while for me to get the hang of writing not for the money, but for self-improvement. I steered clear from the Cash Office and only took my salary when I see people reading the paper. Then I stopped getting my salary altogether.
Realizing that my stay at the school paper wouldn’t last for long, I looked for other means to write. It was then that I discovered blogging. Pay-per-click and pay-per-post weren’t things I knew of back then: there weren’t people who knew of ways to make money online. I looked at my new blog and for the first time, saw potential in it. It wasn’t just the online version of scrap paper I used to practice on before I wrote articles. For the first time, I found creative freedom: I found a place where I could be myself, where I could write anything I wanted without even thinking about money.
That was November 9, 2004, when The Marocharim Experiment – now known as Original TMX – was born. Over three years and over 1,000 entries later, I realized that writing isn’t about the money: it’s about feeling fulfilled, it’s about knowing that you can, in your own way, touch other people’s lives. And I did, in my own way: I never got a single cent out of what I wrote there, and what I continue to write about here. And then came my first blog award: the Participants’ Choice Award in Wika2007.
It is, to me, a reward better than money. Not the web hosting plan itself, but the chance to touch more lives, to make more people feel good, to irritate more people even. Most important is the chance to write.
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Which is why this blog doesn’t tell you how to make money. I don’t know how: there will come a time that I will have to learn about the strategies of making money online, if only to maintain my blog and my online presence. I don’t even know what my blog tells you, since I write about anything that comes to mind anyway.
Sure, money is useful. It helps to keep the site going. But it isn’t about the money. To me, blogging is about improving myself. I want to be a writer: I look at my old blog entries every now and then and look at how much work I need to do today. To be honest, I need a lot of practice before I can even call myself a “writer.” I need a lot of practice before I can even be a professional blogger.
So I blog for absolutely nothing. I hope that come the time that I get a job where I’m paid to write, or if I pepper my otherwise clean-looking blog with advertisements for products I don’t know about, I can still remind myself how far I’ve gone from being an avaricious, money-driven guy to being who I am today… whatever the heck I am. And come that time, I’ll remind myself of how much money ruled my writing as a young man, and that I should never make the same mistake again.
I hope my own story sort of makes you rethink the whole idea of blogging for money. If you do, find your center: it’s easy to make money online, but blogging isn’t about the money. Look back to your recent past and ask yourself why you made a blog in the first place.
I’m sure you didn’t make a blog because you wanted to make money.