Griffiths / When blogging starts paying the rent

“If the audience really grows, the tax office starts to ask questions about the money and a business structure is needed,” writes JOHN GRIFFITHS

“AND in case you don’t know a blogger is a person with a laptop, an axe to grind… and their virginity” – Stephen Colbert

It’s a wonderful quote by the great Colbert, but wildly inaccurate.

John Griffiths

John Griffiths.

At the very least, bloggers have quite a lot of sex with each other here in Canberra.

The term “blogger” is a contraction of website log, a log being much like a journal, so a blogger is never a million miles away from being a journalist.

Bloggers are not always socially awkward beardy men carrying too much camera equipment (although they can certainly be that, too).

As you might have guessed, I was once part of the blogging world, and only really ceased to be one when my blogging started paying the rent.

At this point I was best described as a journalist, which was handy as it was what I’d been doing before I started blogging.

Bloggers are in large part bitterly jealous of each other if for no other reason than there’s nothing like pouring your heart and soul into something that never gets read while someone dull but good looking has praise and attention heaped on them.

Back in the late ‘90s the technology to run a blog crossed a threshold from being the sole preserve of deep nerd-dom into something anyone could be doing.

This led a great number of wide-eyed techno-utopians (the same types raving about digital strategies today) to predict a golden age of self-publication.

Freed from the tyrannies of the costs of newsprint and broadcasting towers just imagine what new media could spring?

As someone who, to some extent, drank that Kool-Aid I can tell you the major flaw in the thinking was figuring out how to pay the rent.

In theory, a blogger can (and frequently will) slave away in their spare time completely unpaid and largely unread.

But if they’re really unlucky they’ll gain an audience, which starts to bring costs. Whacking Google ads all over a site will bring in a trickle of money that covers those costs, but little else.

But if the audience really grows, the tax office starts to ask questions about the money and a business structure is needed.

Lawyers and accountants do not work for the love of it like a blogger does.

At this point the blog is a small media organisation and the whole thing risks not being fun anymore, particularly if the people being brought in to run the business side aren’t as reliable as the blogger might have hoped.

It turns out the internet was not as paradigm busting, at least in this field, as the bright-eyed ones enthused.

If you want to get rich in a gold rush don’t dig for gold, sell shovels.

But it’s not doom and gloom for most bloggers, because no-one reads what they write.

So aside from the odd pang of jealousy that other bloggers are getting more recognition, exasperation that friends and family haven’t been reading, and the odd awkward flirtation through the comments pages with fellow bloggers of their gender preference perhaps leading to an intimate moment, it really doesn’t change their lives very much.

John Griffiths is the online editor of citynews.com.au

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