I don’t think most bloggers are blogging away in the expectation of getting rich. Some will, and some larger (but still small) number will be comfortably well off, or at least make enough money to pay the hosting fees. But people blog so that they can express themselves–to be producers, not consumers–and we see this impulse across the world of new and alternative media. But it’s not really new. Lots of musicians play music in spite of the fact that most of them won’t get rich….They do it because they like to play, and they want their music heard. I think the same kind of thing drives most bloggers, too. It’s certainly what’s driven me. And while some people will drop out after a while (heck, most people will drop out after a while) the blogosphere will remain.
All absolutely true, as far as it goes, and I’d even venture to say that “citizen journalism” in its countless varieties will prove over time to be the most significant part of blogging. But one of the reasons why I started blogging was in the long-range expectation that to do so would ultimately provide me with an additional source of income, one that might someday compensate for the mainstream media’s steadily declining interest in the arts. Note the multiple temporal qualifiers with which that sentence is studded! I’ve discovered (not to my surprise) that I love blogging for its own sake, and I expect to go on doing it for some time to come, regardless of whether or not it ever becomes profitable. Nevertheless, my oft-repeated prophecy about the blogosphere–that it is the place to which serious commentary about the arts is destined to migrate–will not come true until and unless it becomes possible for serious, committed artbloggers to make a reasonable amount of money from their blogs.
One thing that compensates to some degree for the continuing unprofitability of artblogging is the fact that the blogosphere is now “hot,” meaning that some of the best bloggers are starting to attract mainstream media attention simply by virtue of the fact that they’re working in a brand-new medium. This allows them to leverage their small-scale celebrity into print-media gigs of various kinds. I couldn’t be happier about this development, since it means that the blogosphere is now providing talented unknowns with a new and better way to become known. (Not coincidentally, all my blogger friends are writers of whom I’d never heard until they started blogging.)
My own situation is, of course, different, and I think this difference may explain why so comparatively few established professional writers have embraced blogging: they can’t see what’s in it for them. Having done it for a year and a half, I know what’s in it for me. Not only do I relish the direct contact with readers that it makes possible, but my imagination is stimulated by blogging, which lets me try out ideas in public that very often find their way into my print-media pieces. Even when I don’t end up doing anything with these ideas, they quite often set me to thinking in unforeseen ways that lead me in more productive directions. I can already see that this speculative, experimental aspect of blogging, coupled with the immediacy and lack of editorial interference, is what makes the medium so addictive. (It also gives me another way to flog my books.) But be that as it may, I am a professional writer, meaning that I earn my living by selling my words, and I sincerely hope the day comes when I can earn some part of that living by blogging–especially since it’s so much fun.
Don’t worry: Our Girl and I aren’t planning to ask you to subscribe, at least not any time soon! We would, however, be greatly obliged if you’d tell your friends about “About Last Night.” Our readership has been growing, slowly but steadily, ever since we went live in the summer of 2003. The steady part we like, but we wouldn’t mind seeing our numbers grow a bit faster. So if you like what you see here, spread the word.