Recently a friend of mine, who writes a popular blog of an environmental bent, told me he had decided to close his blog down. The reason is that he is actually a journalist and author and he found that the blog was taking a fair amount of his work day but contributed nothing to his income. In essence, it was costing him, in time, a quarter of his wages to keep the blog going.
Why, you may wonder, could his blog not earn him part of his living? We’ve all heard of bloggers making a decent wage. The reason is that he could not accept most advertisements. How could he? Most ads promote exactly the kind of thing his blog was strictly against. So his blog will soon be kaput.
It’s not a story that makes me feel good. How ridiculous is it that arms manufacturers can earn a great living but that a person promoting a better way of life find his conscience gets the better of him? What message does that send? Don’t try to be ethical or you won’t be able to feed your family.
Anyway, I would like for my own story not to end that way. I, like my friend, find that my blog takes a significant amount of time that I would be otherwise using to earn my income. Unlike my friend, I would like my blog to keep going for a long time to come (he’s more ambivalent about his blog). I would like the blog to be, to coin a term, “sustainable.”
The good news is that I’ve been approached by an organization that matches ethical bloggers with sympathetic and like-minded sponsors. The idea is that the sponsors get to have their logos on the blog, but that the blogger gets to choose only sponsors whose values are in line with the values that the blog espouses.
So I’m considering it.
Meanwhile, I’m writing about this for two reasons. First, it strikes me that the issues that come up when trying to maintain a balance between ethical living and earning a salary are worth writing about and discussing. In our culture we have an idea that the two are separate. “Oh, that’s business,” people say, as though the rules of fair play don’t apply. So what happens when you try both to both be ethical and earn a living? I’d love to see comments from people who have experience trying to maintain this balance in their own businesses.
The second reason to write about this is because, if I do ultimately go this route, I would only mount the logos of companies whose services or products I felt able to endorse. I hope that this could end up being an added value for blog readers (I would love, for example, to be able to promote Amtrak on the blog as an alternative to airlines). But this approach flies in the face of the traditional “separation of church and state” between editorial and sponsors. I wondered, too, if anyone has experience with this approach to sponsorship?