A friend sent me a link to a web site called and that rekindled my ongoing ever-simmering debate about how and why I do what I do. Usually this is an internal trialogue amongst me, myself, and I, but occasionally it gets aired and argued with friends, family, and/or colleagues. In global terms the opposing forces are art and commerce, or altruism and commerce.
I followed the link my friend sent and found for sale the secrets of successful blogging and simple steps that will lead you to profitability. I imagine that plenty of people will buy this, but I’m not one of them. I don’t respond well to hard sell, and gimmicks turn me off. One of the gimmicks I detest most is the “$99 value, yours for only $24.99,” but I think what bothered me most in this case relates more to the content than the sales hype.
First of all, there is lots of free information about blogging and how to do it. Second, it offends my sensibilities as a blogger because there is a blogging community and we help one another, advise one another, and promote one another…for free. (I’d even bet that soliciting cross promotion is one of the “secrets” being sold.) On the other hand, I admire this person’s salesmanship and marketing savvy. But as I told my friend, “I can’t go that route. I guess this is why I will always be a starving artist.”
My friend wrote back:
The interesting thing about blogging is how it can be seen by some as a marketing opportunity, while the concept itself is about as far from commercial as you can get. [A mutual friend of ours] put together a blog on investing a couple of month ago, which he abandoned shortly thereafter because “nobody was reading it on a regular basis.” For him, it apparently was blog=audience. For [the blogging secrets guru], it is more blatantly blog=list (revenue).
Don’t get me wrong, I do see blogging as a marketing opportunity, but for me it is one of pr, exposure, building “a fan base” … (eee gad, I’m speaking marketese) For my sensibilities, blogs-as-sales-tools should be more subtle, with an eye toward potential cash in the future for products that my “fans” will buy because they are interested in that product/subject/book, not cash from the blog itself — I hope never to sell ad space on my blog and always to give content that is interesting to my readers (which by my definition means only occasionally may I post a hard sell of my own — i.e. “click here to buy my book“)
My friend says, “You shameless marketeer, you.” What do you say?