I mentioned the blog recently to someone at work. This is not something I do regularly, but we were talking about internetty things -- trends and the future of media and the usual fretting and speculating -- and so I mentioned that I blog, that I have an "online community" -- you know, you guys -- and felt just a little bit sheepish doing it. For people older than me, blogging is weird. Some stranger surely will lure me away from home for nefarious purposes or steal my identity to run up millions in credit card debt. To people younger than me, blogging is so five years ago. Why don't we have a tumblr account?
Anyway, this person was genuinely interested, partly because it's her job to be interested in the internet.
"If you don't mind me asking, could you make a living doing that?"
I tried not to laugh.
Michelle published the 1,000th post yesterday. We've been writing here for nearly four years. We make no money from this site. We don't have ads. We don't do sponsors. Considering that we've done a handful of "giveaways" and I've bought our domain name (not that I've done anything with it yet), we're actually in the red on this little venture, financially speaking.
If we're being honest, I think Michelle and I each thought when we started that maybe we could earn a little from the blog. Just a tiny bit. Maybe. When we started, we were brand-new moms struggling to figure out the balance between wanting and needing to work and wanting and needing to snuggle our babies all day. We each had romanticized visions of being freelancers and working from home. The blog would be a way to market ourselves, if nothing else. (Neither of us had worked much from home with a small child at that point and we still thought powering through nap time would be sufficient ... and that naps would come everyday. We were naive.)
We quickly realized neither of us had the kind of time -- or even, really, the desire -- required to make the blog profitable. We really liked our jobs at the newspapers where we worked, and that work combined with caring for our families, a juggling act we since have figured out -- even if we're not always graceful doing it -- ate up most of our time and available mental resources.
That's not to say we didn't love the blog. We did. We do. We never bothered putting ads up (out of sheer laziness), but we did make a point of checking out the sites of our commenters. We made friends, really good friends despite the fact we'd never met them in person. We each had another baby and blogged through our pregnancies. We started a twitter account, which is now just Michelle's account, and a facebook page. Last year, we ventured to a gathering of bloggers. Sometimes, we've rushed to post something -- the cute thing the kids said, the latest horrible parenting fail, the happy news of a birth -- and other times we've posted out of obligation.
We do not make a living doing this, but we keep blogging because of the other things we get out of it.
The people I talk to regularly: my husband, my mom, my sister, Michelle. I'm not sure that would be true without the blog because it's so easy to let a friendship lapse when you're busy with work and kids and life.
We live 1,000 miles away from our families. I was raised in a small town, surrounded by family. I was the first to have a baby in our group of friends here; I felt like a science experiment. Blogs made me feel normal. I'm not the only one who wants to lock up her children some days and other days feels like she could just do nothing but snuggle up and sniff their necks. None of that is weird -- or at least, I've found many women for whom it's normal, too.
And blogging also has been a help professionally. Media is in a state of flux. The news industry doesn't quite know how to handle the internet. As I've read through and listened to opinions from consultants and social media experts about "new media," I've had practical experience of what an online community is like, what kind of sway the blogging celebrities really have. That's incredibly useful knowledge.
So, no. We're not going to make a living doing this.
But it's worth it.
Thanks for reading.