Writing for a living is a tenuous career choice. Traditionally, there are solid and grounded choices for people who enjoy the written word. But, if being a lawyer, or writing soaps or adverts, sounds soul-destroying, then you have launched yourself into the sea of uncertainly.
Welcome fellow adventurer! To the World of Maybe where we live at the whim of the advertising currents of Google tides and Facebook winds! Where money is foam flung by the spray at random ports and strands.
The Blog Economy
So, you may be asking yourself what kind of rigging do I need to steady my course on the open seas far from sheltered pirate bays?
Now there are several methods that currently work to batten down the old stable income. You know what? Enough of the sea talk – let’s just get on with it.
So you have a blog/vlog on word press or YouTube and you’ve developed a strong following over the years, and I’m sorry it will take years unless you are riding the wave of a favourable current (Okay I tried! My mind is in Pirate Mode, Me hearties!). *cough*
Well, as I was saying once you have earned or stolen an audience (which is certainly possible if you are willing to invest money into promotional advertising for your website) you will want to learn the various ways there are to make a living of this hard work.
For example, Google allows you to advertise on YouTube once you have 10 000 views on your channel. The company will even pay you a portion of the ad revenue. While many people make a living this way, they tend to have mass followings.
So what can you do if you have a blog that is niche and AdSense (like YouTube ads but with those annoying banners that sell you fake diets) is not an option for you. Perhaps it goes against your brand. After all, you have no control over what is advertised on those ever-changing constantly flashing boxes of targeted shame. You might be going for a zen-like Apple brand with relatively minor chances of epileptic twitch-inducing background to your main articles.
Perhaps you have something to sell. If you offer a service consider giving small amounts of free advice even daily if you can manage it. This shows that your business is not a sham and gives your customers a sense of the value of your product. While this is a sound way of attracting customers to a physical product, it’s not if you are located in a remote area.
Brave New World
In that case it’s time to launch from your safe harbour my privateer and join the brave new world on the open web!
You work hard and you offer value for free to your reader/viewers, either by simply entertaining them or with real advice or resources. Believe it or not, this makes you an artist, and you deserve to be paid for your art.
But how? Well you can track down individual advertisers that feel you are worth their money and create sponsored content. Many of your favourite podcasts make a living this way and you may notice some of the top You Tubers have “favourite” brands.
This can work but it comes with conditions, contracts, and other hindrances that our independent entrepreneurial hearts may not want to put up with. What if these products turn out to be a scam? What if they are just no good? Do you have to lie to your loyal followers?
Of course not! The last and best option and certainly most ancient may suit you. From the earliest days when the first person to not want to scratch for roots in the dirt all day for a living declared, “I want to be a writer”
The first thing to happen was his friend, Dave, said, “What is a writer?”
The first writer sidled up to Dave and said, “Dave, I’ve come up with a way for us to record our innermost thought and feelings that will change the world for the better. Sure, it may lead to a hierarchical despotic patron state that will only benefit the cleverest and the most ‘morally unburdened’ of us, but for the low price of say 20 roots a month, you, Dave, and anyone with a few extra roots a month could help fund a new way of life.”
“But what’s in it for Dave?”
Coming closer, putting both hands on each of Dave’s shoulders, and shaking him slightly, the first writer said, “Dave, I will give you worlds that only you could ever imagine, places to go when the world is dark and the big cats with the teeth growl, I will give you hope when all is lost and friends when you are all alone in an empty cave. Dave, I will build a world where we all believe we can be more than root-pickers that die horribly. Dave, believe in my words, give me the freedom to write, to create, and you will have endless wonders from which to choose.”
So Dave became the first patron of the arts and civilisation was born. From that day on artists have needed these exceptional people who believe and know that the world is a better place if those who want to create, invent and concoct have the freedom to produce works not subject to the whims of the changing tides of a cable network or a corrupt mega corporation.
What would the history of writing and art in general have looked like if Byron was sponsored by Levis or Hitchcock had to put a Budweiser into every shot of Psycho? We know every book and every movie would be Transformer: a glorious celebration of excess, void of meaning, provoking no new emotion, never imagining a new world, simply repeating the same easily marketable refuse of the past over and over again.
So, what I’m saying is you could use Patreon, like we have at Writers Write, or something similar. If you offer value to the lives of others, they will be willing to give something in return even if it is just a few dollars a month. And if you have found value in your life from a blog, an artist or a vlog go on be a Dave throw a couple of roots their way you know how hard you worked to get here so did they.
by Christopher Dean (A proud Dave). Christopher is currently busy creating pirate-based puns for fun and profit, when not working for Writers Write. Follow him on Twitter.
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