Slaying Dragons

There is an entire world built around blogging that most blog readers – and even many bloggers themselves – aren’t aware of, and sometimes I envy their distance from the manic parade.

Recently I’ve read a number of posts from “key” figures in social media trumpeting the battle cry for more respect, more recognition, and standardized pay for bloggers who work with companies.  Inevitably, the conversation begets a slew of “This is how…” and “Bloggers should…” and “The right way to…” positions, even though there are thousands of quality members of the blogging community who – just maybe – couldn’t care less.

Despite that, these kinds of conversations also become the great Blogger Cumbaya – after all, who is going to argue that bloggers who work hard to represent products, consult with companies, and lend their valuable voice to a cause don’t deserve respect, recognition, and standard pay?  No one!  These bloggers blog about blogging, and other bloggers sign on with the “Way to go!,”  “Sing it sister!,” and “Let’s start a revolution!” comments.  It’s something akin to preaching to the choir.  And it begins to feel so self-involved, and highlights the insular, circular world of blogging. 

I understand the desire to advocate, and I understand some bloggers’ need for an advocate.  Even though – I’m sorry – if you’re feeling taken advantage of, it seems there’s something you can do about that yourself.  There are a many respectable, free, online resources to help support bloggers who want to make money online. 

What I don’t understand is why we need to throw this umbrella of proposed protection over all mommy bloggers and imply that they don’t know what they’re saying if they politely refuse the gesture.

Listen, I just don’t need you to slay any dragons for me.  I’m happy with my blog, with the companies I work with, the PR people I have relationships with, the review panels on which I participate, and – coincidentally – the money I’m NOT making.  When I’m not happy anymore, I’ll severe some ties or change my terms or slay my own pesky dragon.  I’m not a blogger in distress, thank you very much.

Edited to add (because I’ve been thinking of this all night):

  • Why am I willing (at this point) to work for free (or next-to-nothing, since sometimes I do receive a $20 gift card or similar)?  Because the moment I expect to make something resembling a living from this blog is the same moment that I’ll find myself at my computer for the 11th hour in one day, and I just can’t do that.  I need to be able to turn off my computer without guilt or regret or say “no thanks” to an opportunity that doesn’t fit.  If I were depending on this blog to pay bills, I don’t think I’d be able to do that.  Oddly enough, keeping money out of the equation actually helps me feel more liberated from the computer screen.
  • Do I think it’s a good idea to standardize blogging practices and expectations?  No.  Blogging encourages a fascinating cross-section of skills and personalities – how can there ever be one way to homogenize those who are technical or creative or community-oriented or blazing a trail?  There are thousands upon thousands of bloggers who blog for different reasons – I don’t think there will ever be a guild or congress created online that is wide enough and vast enough to include them all.
  • Do I think bloggers who do not charge ruin it for bloggers who do?  Not necessarily.  I mean, why watch cable when you can get tv for free?  Or – in certain blogging terms – why buy a template when you can get one for free?  Why self-host when you can get space for free?  There is room enough in the market, I believe for bloggers charging nothing and bloggers charging a fee.  We ultimately offer different services, features, and levels of exposure to companies.  Companies will sort out what they want and find the appropriate blogger who can deliver – whether it’s free or not.
  • Am I grateful for those who are working to demand fair pay for fair work online?  Yes, I am.  Because I know if I ever get to a point where I do want to make a living doing this, they will be the ones I have to thank.  I just don’t appreciate the associated implication that if I’m not “there” right now, I’m a fool, and that what I’m doing here isn’t worthwhile or is somehow polluting the bloggy stream.  Whether you know it or not, your argument that bloggers deserve respect and recognition also applies to those who don’t necessarily agree with you.