I have a question.
Would you pay for the content on this site? Go ahead, take a minute to gather yourself. Take a deep breath. Be honest. My guess is no. The reason I ask is that I’m routinely questioned by a variety of smart and interesting people why I have yet to monetize my site. I always answer the same way. “I’ve never found a way to do it without selling out.” Would I like to monetize my site? Yes. Why? Because the added income would allow me more freedom to make the work I want to make, and to share it here on Shifter. But when I look around at people monetizing it always seems to come with numerous strings attached.
There are paid posts. There are trends and techniques you seemingly HAVE to write about or the numbers won’t be there, and let’s be perfectly clear, monetization is about driving traffic. Period. I know with one hundred percent certainty if I want to drive traffic I write about gear. But I don’t want to write about gear. Not only is it boring but it also attracts a very boring reader, most often people who know little about actual photographic work, the history of the work and even what makes a good image or how to utilize that image once you have it in your domain. I could do banner ads, and I’ve been asked many times, but most of the time they lead right back to the same gear conversation, and do I really want to contribute to the absolute consumer orgy that things like online ads and social media have unleashed on the world? No, no and NO.
I know plenty of people who monetize. But I can’t think of one who doesn’t play the game to do so, which is what has kept me away. Well, that and the idea my life isn’t just about photography, so hard to pin down what I do and who I am, and if you come here for photography talk would you be turned off by the adventure, yoga or Lyme? My guess is yes.
The sad thing I see is that the phoniest people tend to have the most traffic and most ability to monetize. This has been exasperated by social media where selling out is the basis for the entire operation. The people who will shill anything to anyone for any reason as long it means more traffic and the subsequent more revenue are the squeaky wheels. From the advertiser side I almost entirely understand, but not quite all the way.
The flip side to this little tale is that perhaps I have nothing of value, which is a real possibility, but obviously I’m okay with that because I’ve been blogging for over fifteen years, for free. In fact, when you factor in the time, this site has cost me thousands and thousands. But love trumps profit.
If you have a moment tell me your thoughts. Thanks in advance.