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Monday, September 22, 2014

So Tell Us, Ellie - Why Do You Blog?

I ran into a friend this weekend and she had a buddy along, so of course, she introduced me and then she told the buddy I was a blogger. Like, a real-live "she does it almost every day" kind of blogger. In her mind, I'm a minor celebrity in the Blogosphere because I blog for Woman's Day and also have my very own webpage. The buddy was quite gracious and friendly, and she asked me the question I've heard oh-so-many-times-before: "Do you make a lot of money with your blog?"

I learned long ago that it's rude to laugh directly in people's faces, so I just smiled demurely and said "I make a little money – but not enough to quit my day job." Then, of course, I followed it up with, "But that's not why I do it, anyway."

And it's not, really. I'm not kidding about the money thing, either.

I'm one of the incredibly fortunate bloggers who can actually claim to be paid for their work. Woman's Day pays me (thank you, Woman's Day!) and I get a small amount of money from ad revenue and the occasional syndicated post via the BlogHer network (thank you, BlogHer!) but I have never been a big-bucks blogger.

Part of that is because it's a lot of work – and I do mean work – to get that way. First, you have to bust your ass on content. I'm not just talking one blog post a day, but several. Then you have to be a social media butterfly, putting your PR out there every way and any way you can. It also helps if you partner with your advertisers, offering readers coupons or reviewing products or running giveaway contests – all of which you post about on all your various media presences: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook….praying that it goes viral, because viral is such a magic word.

Oh, and don't even get me started on Facebook. If you want people to see those Facebook posts, you have to pay to push them out or Facebook buries them. So you go on your blog and you beg people for "Likes" and "Follows", ending all your sentences with hashtags in the hope that it all carries and bleeds and spreads and your name becomes "A NAME."

If you think that's a forty-hour-a-week job, think again. And here's the thing…even that kind of work isn't cutting it anymore. I could explain all the whys and wherefores of that, but this post by Dan Pearce at really gives you a much clearer picture. And Dan is one of the Big Kahunas in the blogosphere – he's "A NAME" – and he's even having trouble keeping himself afloat.

And that brings us back to me, and my little ole blog. Even with the push of a name like Woman's Day behind me, I'm not bringing in clicks by the thousands. I'd like to be, sure, but that'll have to wait until I win the lottery, because for now, I have to work a full-time job with full benefits to pay my mortgage and cover my calamity-prone children. Blogging two platforms on top of the 9-5 is no picnic some days. There are some days where I stare at a blank screen, begging my mind to put something, anything out there.

But there are also days when it flows like a fountain. Days when there's an ache inside that I need to put out there, or a moment of joy so fierce I need to shout it to the cosmos, or a brief instant of witnessed humanity that reminds me – and I want to remind you – that we're all in this together. Those are the times that I have to blog. I need to blog. And when I know it reached out and made somebody's load a little lighter, or taught someone something they didn't know, or made them cry along with me, and learn from it as I have…..that's the payment.

The day job puts food on the table, but the blogs put food in my soul. It's what I do. It's who I am. And if I can't retire on an island somewhere because of that, then que sera sera…it's just more to write about in this life of mine, that sometimes is probably a lot like that life of yours.

I'm just the one who has the brass balls to put it out there for all the world to see.

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