On Breaking Even: Subsistence Blogging and other Loss Leaders
We have never been the kinds of people who live with a lot of debt. Of the two of us, I’m much the more frugal and anguish over money spent, especially when it has low direct-survival value.
Ann has helped me partially overcome my buyer’s guilt, and I factor personal satisfaction into the mix now at a much higher level than I once might have. (The gentrified and very high dollar deer-proof garden is one recent example where satisfaction won out over practicality and price.)
Now I have my own small economy to manage called Goose Creek Press and First Impressions Photography. That small purse of egg money comes from the work I do that isn’t from my “day job” (physical therapy.) It is a small pot indeed, but here too, I want to balance returns for effort while including personal enjoyment and creative expression in the credits column.
Here too, like many of my retired and nearly-retired age cohorts and friends, I wrestle with the devil of wasting time for little if any income against the angel of enjoying what I do with my time; I’m trying to come to a sustainable peace between the pleasure of the work and the pain of putting small and occasional numbers on a spreadsheet. Accountants are famous for crushing fragile Muses, you know.
And herein lies the issue at hand: I’m spending far more for The Biz than I’m bringing in so far this year: the Mac Pro and accessories; the Epson Printer, inks and papers; and now, a Roanoke conference (about which more this week.) In 2006 and 2007, I made enough from book sales to cover my meager expenses (the greatest of which was mileage).
This year, I’ve let Slow Road Home simmer (though there will be a few events this fall that might get books into readers’ hands and small coinage into mine.) And Book Two for various reasons is off the table for now–expense of production, then of travel to market being near the top of the list of reasons and/or excuses.
So look-it, said a friend. Your investments this year are seeds sown for next year and the next. The camera, computer, printer and meetings will bring back what you’ve spent and then some. Just give it some time, she said, and you’ll reap a crop of returns. And she’s probably right. The small things add up, too.
Even the blog is not entirely unprofitable beyond the (I hope) obvious enjoyment I find in sharing my photographs and daily rambles, even though I took Adsense crap off the blog more than a year ago after returns (nice and regular there for a while) fell off and the ugliness of the ads got under my skin. But here I need your feedback.
Ads do still appear–TextLink Ads–and at this point, they add to the egg money enough to pay the monthly DSL and have a bit left over for software tools or a pizza. Do you as readers notice them (on individual blog posts in the archive, not on the front page) and if so, do they detract from your enjoyment of reading the blog or do they seem to clash with the overall tone and voice of Fragments?
I’ve not done the kinds of things bloggers can do to get readership numbers higher (even though a higher visit count I imagine makes a blog more attractive for advertisers.) I don’t suppose I’ll start pimping for readers now. Build it, and they may or may not come.
But if it gives pleasure in the doing and maybe a bit of information and causes no harm, says the angel on my right shoulder, knock yourself out. Meanwhile, my accountant bites his fingernails, winces, and takes another blood pressure pill.