I sometimes hear from bloggers in our community that their motivation to blog has faded. Most begin writing with little expectation, just happy to take a break from crunching numbers to interact with actual humans. Sometimes that optimism wanes though when the realities of life’s other responsibilities begin to pull at their time. Throw in a healthy dose of the troll’foolery that comes with having an Internet presence, and folks sometimes question whether it’s all worth it.
As a denizen of this community, I want to encourage folks to continue writing. I’ve spoken with a number of the top bloggers on our mashup to understand both the tangible and intangible things that motivate them. Here are the eight motivators they shared, sorted from least to most tangible:
Sharing for the sake of sharing:
There is a special breed of person who enjoys sharing simply for the sake of sharing. These are the generous souls who contribute to Stack Exchange and the like. But for many, it’s not enough.
A means to organize and archive one’s thoughts:
Many analytical people, myself included, tend to be easily distracted by squirrels. A blog forces one to organize and archive one’s thoughts, closing a chapter on one subject before moving on to the next.
Collaboration with the community:
Many of us work on our nerd toys in isolation, and seek the feedback and collaboration that comes with being part of a community. I hear mixed responses on this. I would summarize them as this: the Internet is mostly a “taking” as opposed to “giving” place. Don’t expect an army of collaborators. Expect a very small number of people who have the potential to make a real impact on your work.
The reality is that our niche is too small to drive significant revenue. I would say that we have a reasonably successful site as far as quantitative stuff goes, but our primary source of revenue, our book library, generates less than $200 a month, essentially all of which goes to costs. You can certainly do better, but don’t expect much here.
Some bloggers are having success with one-off contract work (consulting, strategy development, programming, etc.) that often turns into something much bigger. This one surprised me as I didn’t realize the scale on which it was happening.
Career building and networking:
There have been A LOT of success stories here. Folks are finding solid jobs by treating their site as a portfolio of their workmanship. It makes me incredibly happy to know that, along with the “contract work” above, we’re playing a small part in improving lives in the offline world.
A number of sites manage money in some form or fashion. While they may not technically solicit business through their sites, their workmanship is on display, something that I think is much more effective in finding more sophisticated clients than the traditional approach to sales.
This is the most direct approach: books, software, subscriptions to strategies, subscriptions to member-only content. Note that there has been a lot written about the financial benefit (or lack thereof) of selling books the traditional way (i.e. Amazon + brick-and-mortar). In short, there’s not much money there, but it’s a means to drive some other revenue stream.
That’s it. I’m sure there are more, but these are what came out of my conversations. There is of course no one-size-fits-all answer, but as a denizen of this community I hope that authors define what motivates them so that we as a community don’t lose the benefit of their knowledge.
Mike @ Quantocracy