I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole business of blogging for money and I wonder how compatible it is with blogging for enjoyment. I would keep this blog going anyway, even if I had to be gainfully employed elsewhere, but ultimately my aim is to offer quality ebooks and ecourses, and to earn some sort of a living from selling these. I’ve done a year’s training course in how to make money online, and I’ve read endless books, ezines, blogs and websites all on the same theme. But every time I’ve tried to blog the way I ‘should’, I get stuck and frozen. The only thing that seems to free up my writing is to write about what interests me, and to be authentically myself. For that reason, this blog has turned into a much more personal thing than it was ever meant to be.
But it worries me. I can see that ‘providing value’ – as we’re told to do – is important and I don’t feel that what I write provides very much value at all. I feel I should be writing ‘how-to’ articles and so on, but every time I sit down to write them it feels all wrong and I can’t do it. I’ve written this sort of thing for other blogs (eg, Mortal Muses) without problems, but somehow I can’t get it to work when I try it here. I haven’t yet figured out why that is, and maybe it’s something I’ll get over in time. Or maybe I just need to do a different kind of how-to article, or to put them somewhere else than in my blog – I don’t know yet.
I think this is a similar problem to one that confronts anyone who tries to make money from their art. The minute you alter what you do to please an audience, you’re in danger of ceasing to be who you really are and to do what you really want, and of course the real value of your art lies in your unique take on the world. It’s so tempting to end up working to a formula and producing stuff that you know people will like, even if that’s not what you’re drawn to doing. Even where money isn’t involved, you can feel a little saddened (for example) when you put images onto Flickr that you’re really pleased with and they get ignored and don’t gather any comments because they don’t satisfy popular taste. It shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t really, but I don’t think I can be the only one who feels a smidgeon of disappointment when that happens. It matters a lot more if you’re trying to make money out of what you offer, because being ignored isn’t going to get food on the table. But is it worth it if you have to be something that you aren’t?
So I’ve decided to go with what feels good to me for the moment, and simply write about what interests me. It may not relate directly to photography, but everything I am and do is reflected in my photography in some way. In the end, we photograph what interests us and those interests can encompass a wide variety of things; in a sense, every photograph is a self-portrait. I don’t know if I’m scuppering my chances of making money online by taking this approach, but I think I have to take that risk. I’ve felt myself getting a little stale lately, as I’ve become more and more unsure about where I’m going with all this, and I feel the need to get back on track again. If it doesn’t work out………well, I’ll think about that later.