Wahlmüncherin is a hobby, a labor of love; an idea I put into action a few years ago when I made a promise to myself to organize my life more around creative pursuits I care about.
I’ve never sat down and seriously thought out a strategy to ‘monetize’ the blog, attract advertisers or even how to react when approached. If something seemed to fit (a cultural event, a service I would honestly consider using) I might write about it. I also have a soft spot for small, independent businesses or fellow Münchners trying to get something going.
However, a recent exchange with a company got me highly irritated and triggered some strong feels about this whole blogging gig. None of this is new and has been discussed all over the internet ad nauseum, but here’s my .02:
- This is a blog, not a free or low cost advertising service.
- If a company/agency offers a blogger a product to try, it should be implicit that there is the potential for a negative post if the product sucks.
- As a blogger, my loyalty is to my readers not some entity trying to sell something.
I recently discovered GOMI (Get Off My Internets). A venting grounds where (often very funny) self-described ‘haters’ go to vent about bloggers. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I love it. A lot of people commenting there (I just lurk) say what many are thinking. A recurring theme is people being sick of getting ‘sold to’ on blogs.
We all have to put food on the table. I’m also in favor of trying to support yourself with creative endeavors, I’m striving to do that myself, but without my husband’s full time job, this whole operation would go kaputt. If you think you’re going to make money by starting a blog, you’re better off buying a lottery ticket.
Anyone can start a blog, it requires very little talent or skill and it doesn’t entitle the person who has started it to compensation for doing it. As far as I can tell, people who garner large followings of their blogs, the kinds that are able to make money doing it, have one, some or all of these things going for them:
- They started at the right time (before 2006)
- They’re really good writers and/or curators of unique content
- They’re authentic and establish a real connection with their readers
- They’re consistent, and disciplined about publishing content
- They’re extremely savvy networkers and self-promoters
These days, though, the whole thing is getting so fragmented and changing so fast, even bloggers who have all five things going for them are scrambling. If they try to keep the endeavor going by shoving ads in their readers faces 24/7 people get sick of it. Grace Bonney writes very thoughtfully about this. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
I don’t care if this blog ever gets a lot of followers, that’s not why I publish it (in fact I can’t even really tell you why I publish it). What I do know is that I care about how my readers receive it. For Wahlmuc I hope to be good at points 2-4.
I believe people have a strong reaction to being sold to on blogs because the medium is an intimate one. Writing a blog post is like inviting someone into your living room. No one wants their friends to start selling them Amway at a dinner party. It’s tacky. It’s a turn off. I do want my friends to tell me about things they like, or have used or bought, but only if it’s genuine.
I have three blogs. Soon to be two. This one (Wahlmüncherin), one I started where I write about project management for small businesses (and was started out of a mix of genuine passion and commercial reasons) that I will soon shut down, and one that is explicitly commercial and about products I sell on my e-commerce site – sure I throw in personal interest stuff, but it’s clearly a part of my store and about me selling my stuff.
My conclusion from starting all three: Be explicitly commercial or don’t be commercial at all. People aren’t stupid. They get what you’re trying to do and will respond accordingly. As a blogger, I’m happier and more comfortable approaching each post with that clarity. I guess these 700+ words are just a long winded way of saying this:
I will never try to sell you something on this blog while pretending I’m not.