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Please don't tell ME you think I'm wonderful. Instead, tell your five hundred closest friends.
July 7, 2012 9:16 AM   Subscribe

How can I get people to stop gushing at me and instead promote me?

I have a few websites. Some of them have been around for years. I have had publishing house founders, self made millionaires, published authors and other incredibly brilliant, talented people gush at me personally about how wonderful I am, how wonderful my writing is, and how wonderful the contents of some of my sites are. But no one will get on twitter or their blog or some forum they belong to and tell other people about my wonderful writing. They all want a personal relationship to me as an individual and they want me to do all the giving and get nothing in return. There have been exceptions and I apologize to anyone reading this who has done anything for me, like donate to the site or gift me a metafilter account, but the support is very few and far between compared to the people who gush at me like I am the greatest thing since sliced bread and then spit in my face and tell me my websites have zero commercial value, cannot be monetized, and so forth.

I need to solve this. There is demand for the info. The websites grew out of existing demand or would not exist. My medical condition precludes making a regular job work and I think this is the most valuable thing I can offer the world. This is my life's work and has benefitted people for years and mostly bled me financially for domain names, web hosting, etc. I am homeless, jobless, deeply in debt and trying to declare bankruptcy. So I have been trying to figure out how to get more traffic and have had very modest success, but it falls far short of what I need. I thought I had more time but $4000 I did not have was sucked out of my bank account yesterday. My bank balance is suddenly deeply in the negative numbers. So the shit has really hit the fan and I have to solve this. How do I turn all this "gosh, you are so adorable, gush gush" response into website traffic and, from there, money?

This shouldn't be this hard. What am I doing wrong that I cannot capitalize on this situation?

Thanks in advance for any feedback. Please spare me pats on the head. I don't need that. I need solutions.
posted by Michele in California to Computers & Internet (65 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Um. Ask?

There's nothing wrong with asking them to tweet about you.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:30 AM on July 7, 2012


It seems like you are getting two main points of feedback here. One is that you have talent. Two is that you are using your talent to create products that are not marketable. This is good news for you because it seems like a solution to your problem is within your reach.

If you want to create income from your web development you need to create websites that generate income, eg, that are products or services people will pay for. This will probably require more market research. You say that your websites grew out of existing demand, but your feedback says that the demand is not great enough. There is a discrepancy here and market research will help you figure out what that is.

It's kind of like, if you have excellent talent at illustration, you have the option to be a fine artist, and you also have the option to be a graphic designer. Many people might prefer fine art (full creative control, sense of fulfillment) but choose to develop their talent towards graphic design instead (or in addition) because it ends up paying the bills more often. It sounds like your websites are personal projects to you and have impact, but that people are telling you if you want to pay your bills you might have to make some less personal projects.
posted by newg at 9:33 AM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


What are you actually saying to these people? Are you asking them to share your sites, and they're declining?
posted by modernserf at 9:33 AM on July 7, 2012


Do you have a call to action? When someone gushes, do you tell them how much it would mean to them if they'd share those same thoughts on Twitter (with a link to your contact page) or in a LinkedIn recommendation? Have you asked them if you could write down that testimonial/comment they just made and put it on the testimonial page on your website,, and even link to their own personal or company sites? (That way, people searching for them may see your page in the search engine results.)

Do you have a line in the signature block of your business emails that says something like, "Don't keep me a secret?" (in your own style, of course, letting people know you actively encourage sharing their thoughts in the various places you'd hope to see public praise).

People generally don't have a "hey, I found this great person" instinct until the issue comes up. Give them a problem they can solve and they'll feel good about how easy it is to accomplish something on your behalf.

As for marketability, ask these oh-so-brilliant people what they'd do, if they were in your place, to make them marketable. Good luck!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:34 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


They all want a personal relationship to me as an individual...and then spit in my face and tell me my websites have zero commercial value, cannot be monetized, and so forth.

So you're wondering why these millionaires/authors don't want to help you capitalize on your content?

Well by your own admittance, a) these people have acknowledged that they don't want to pursue a professional relationship with you; b) these people think that your websites have no commercial value.

Judging by your post, I think you need to come across as a bit more humble, and realize that you're really not entitled to anything from anybody.
posted by lobbyist at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's what I've been learning over the years- nobody really wants to pay you to pursue your interests unless your interests have a monetary benefit to someone else. Like the above person mentioned, you really have to be offering a good or a service. Is it entertainment? Concrete parenting advice? I shouldn't give advice because I haven't figured it out but most profitable websites generally grow by accident or word of mouth and it's hard to force.

Writing is what's best for you, and I'm sorry about your health issues. However, you may have to diversify and find another job or way of making money from home, or a way that can happen given your health situation.

What do other websites do? Have a donate/paypal button? I seriously don't know, maybe research in this area as a side project would be helpful too.
posted by bquarters at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


They all want a personal relationship to me as an individual...and then spit in my face and tell me my websites have zero commercial value, cannot be monetized, and so forth.

Are you sure that they're not just being (perhaps brutally) honest with you?
posted by pecanpies at 9:48 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have asked people to promote my sites. That is when I get told they have no value, often by people who found them tremendously personally valuable.

Re the remarks about being more humble: I think I am humble. I am not trying to brag. I have had people tell me that I should promote my work, it is wonderful, etc and then decline to help me promote it. When I try to promote it, people think I have some huge ego and tell tales, etc. It is a trap I cannot find a way out of. I need other people to promote me. I can never get that, even from people who were close to me for months, spent hours and hours weekly talking with me online, made life changing decisions based on my writing, wanted to be part of my life in a big way. They want me to love then as individuals. They seem unable to see my writing as having value in its own right, without a personal relationship to me, though valuing my writing is why they sought me out. It makes me crazy. I have reason to believe some of these people have closed a lot of doors for me because they don't want to publically admit how much I meant to them and no longer speak to me. Either they are influential or they have influential connections or both. Identifying them would cause me even more headaches but this bs has turned into a real obstacle to my ability to solve my financial problems.

I did join twitter earlier this year and I have like two followers. I did add twitter links to my sites. What more can I do in that regard? The traffic is improving and I am starting to make a little money, but it is not enough. I need a lot more traffic and a lot more money and I need it rapidly.

I don't think they are right that it has no commercial value. I just don't know how to get people to value my work instead of glomming onto me personally. In theory, that kind of personal charisma or "star quality" should be something I can capitalize on. But I can't seem to figure out that piece of it.
posted by Michele in California at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2012


Unfortunately there's not really a short term solution to the blog monetization conundrum - unless you have a really huge following who will leap to action and make a one-time donation. But asking for money out of desperation kind of weakens your brand. Ideally you want people paying for a product they value, not giving you charity.

That means you have to spend time developing a business model that makes sense for your blog and your line of work.

This is a tough problem to crack and there are lots of people out there trying to figure out creative ways to monetize their blogs. But there are also a lot of people who are doing it and making good livings. Search for "blog monetization" and start reading. Copyblogger has lots of good ideas. Here's a piece on 49 ways to monetize online content.

My personal experience is this. We use a "Heinz 57" model - a bit of advertising, a bit of event promo, a bit of sponsorship, a bit of our own event production. We try a lot of different things out and focus on the things that stick. We learn a lot from other blogs and I've found the precise model that works is different for every blog.

I got into blogging because of passion for my topic and a love of writing, but almost 50% of my time (and 100% of my partner's time) is focused on selling and product development. It takes a lot of time and it's not easy. But it does turn a hobby into a business.
posted by paddingtonb at 9:56 AM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are the sites you mention the sites you link to in your profile?
posted by erst at 9:58 AM on July 7, 2012


Yes, they are in my profile.
posted by Michele in California at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2012


Genuinely liking or admiring you, and seeing your work as something that can be easily monetized, are not the same thing. This is not evidence of any sort of hypocrisy. Telling you they don't see an investment opportunity is not 'spitting in your face.' Getting pissed at people who know the sorts of things you need to know (those publishers and self-made millionaires), because what they see as possible doesn't fit with what you wish were possible, doesn't seem like a great strategy.
posted by jon1270 at 10:08 AM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would suggest perhaps spending some time making your sites look and feel more professional and modern.
posted by erst at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I did join twitter earlier this year and I have like two followers.

Your twitter feeds listed in your profile are essentially RSS feeds. People don't follow you because you're not saying anything. Twitter is interactive. Start talking to others in your area of interest. Go to other blogs and follow their Twitter accounts, and reply to stuff they say. It's like going to a party - you have to put yourself out there first. You can't expect an instant result, but over time you'll build up a base of followers who will then spread the word. Interact, interact, interact.
posted by desjardins at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I have a little blog that I made posts for and then after a few months, got side tracked/lost interest, but I did have people tweet a few times about a post or two or link back to me.

The way to get people to tweet and promote you is to promote them. So for example, I interviewed a few people to help readers. The people who were interviewed made a point of posting on their blog and tweeting a few times to see the interview about them. So if you know pple who are connected in social media and they are knowledgeable about a topic, interview these people. I never asked them to promote me by the way, it just happened (and I thought about it..it made sense, they were trying to promote themselves).

I would also put links to other services on your blogs (your homeless blog, for example). I have had a few pple link to me (or vice versa when I noticed this and was active).

Also, find related blogs. Twitter about their articles. Rotate who you are twittering about. You can also do a monthly "best posts about X" on your blog...link to their blogs. Some people will blog back,link back, or twitter about you.

What am I doing wrong that I cannot capitalize on this situation?

Are we talking $ here or still getting to people to promote you? If it is the former, then just a few thoughts:

• Apply to get paid for blogging (you have samples (i.e. your blogs), approach people who pay for this service).

• Have you experimented with monetizing your blog? Google ads or anything? This is probably the only way to find out if you can or can't monetize it. It should give you quick feedback.

• Why not make something that you can sell? If you have enough articles, why not build and make an ebook of whatever it is that people seek the most. Throw it on amazon or whatever. It is an experiment: you want to see if readers will or will not pay for it (to be honest, I wouldn't put the price that high...part of it is an experiment.Will 100 people click buy? Two people? No matter what it is data.).

Also, because I think that this can get overwhelming. Concentrate on just one or two of those blogs, whichever ones you think have the most potential. Try these things and see if you have an increase in #s, money, whatever. I'm saying this as someone who lives through my own small business. Invest in something for x months and take so many steps. If it doesn't work by the deadline that you set, you change directions. This may equal not pursuing your blogs but blogging for other people if it equals more income, etc. Good luck.

One last thing that occurred to me that may get you more readers: Why not post one of them on projects? Check the rules first but looks like you've done these for a while.
posted by Wolfster at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two out of the five links in the "about" section of your mefi profile do not work.
posted by desjardins at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do kind of wonder if flat out asking for money might help. If your website is so awesome (let's say this applies to the more public service-y ones rather than the personal ones), tell people that your website is going to no longer exist because you're going bankrupt and can't afford to keep it. I have no idea if this would work or not really--might work if your fan base is big enough, but I don't know--but at this point, what would it hurt? You've got nothing already. And we've seen enough stories online of people who were in dire straits and suddenly got money donated. It may be worth a shot.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:19 AM on July 7, 2012


I have had [...] people gush at me personally about how wonderful I am

I think you are getting this kind feedback because, looking around, it looks as though you have dealt with some considerable burdens, and the usual response to a person who has suffered and who is trying to deal with a bad hand in a positive way is, to, well, gush at them about how wonderful they are.

But it is not 'spitting in your face' to tell you that the sites don't have commercial value. They don't. They are personal blogs of appeal to a highly limited audience. I am a homeschooling parent; I could wring nothing of relevance to me (or anybody I know, and I know a lot of parents and homeschoolers) out of the blog with "info about parenting and homeschooling."

The San Diego Homeless Survival Guide is interesting, most likely very useful -- to a very small audience with no money and limited internet access -- and could possibly be made more broadly appealing if its focus was widened and it was filled with well-written stories about your experiences with homelessness. But this has been done, many times, and you would need to write exceptionally well; you write serviceably now but not exceptionally, not to the point where you are the next viral thing, you know? The sites even need some basic copy-editing.

Who has been benefitting from these sites...? That you are not receiving publicity or money in return yet believe the information is in demand and of value is...those two don't go together.

Once, when my daughter was a few weeks old, I had a nursing hassle, the nature of which has long since been forgotten. What I do remember was that I went to kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site stuffed full of well-curated, well-organised information, a content-rich site created by somebody with professional credentials in the field, and, after ten minutes of reading, I no longer had a nursing hassle. I clicked "donate" and sent off $20, very grateful... That's what happens when stuff does have genuine value on the web. Nowadays people pay $5 to ask questions on here, quite (if I understand correctly) without complaint. When a site genuinely betters others' lives, people do open wallets. And tell all their friends, without being asked.

I do not understand what metrics you are using to assess that "I don't think they are right that it has no commercial value." As for the second paragraph in your follow-up -- while I obviously have nothing to go on here besides a marginally educated guess, I think you are connecting with people on a different level than you think you are. You have struggled with disease, homelessness, other serious issues -- this is interesting to some, and I am afraid you may be an object of pity to some, and the glowing assessments are because they are unable to engage with you without viewing you through the lens of disease/homelessness/etc. If you were less "exotic" to the people "gushing," your writing would not be worthy of comment.

By being forthright about your challenges, you have, I fear, made yourself into an Other, and have been fetishized by the sorts of people who are interested in you and your body of work because you are outside that boundary, because you are Other, and what you are getting are patronising pats on the head from people who did not know that homeless people could make web sites, etc. Everything you have said about the feedback you've received points to this; you are getting personal 'strokes,' but told that, professionally, there's no hope.

I have looked at all the sites in your profile and I wish I could offer more hope here, but those are just not sites anybody would be able to 'monetise.' I too am baffled as to why you feel authors, millionaires, etc should be doing your work (that is, advertising) for you. When somebody tells me I am nicely dressed, I don't sit back and anticipate that they will hustle up work for me as a fashion consultant, or decide that my knowledge on how to select garments is a skill I should be getting paid for, and that seems analogous to the expectation here. Personal blogs chatting about one's bank balance and lemon pie are just not jobs. I think what you are doing wrong is simply confusing that because you have worked at something, it is work of the sort that should produce monetary reward.

(In re. "I do kind of wonder if flat out asking for money might help" -- the sites have prominent requests for donations, with a PayPal logo/buttons, and a mention of "Donation goal: $1200/ month")
posted by kmennie at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2012 [39 favorites]


It might help to tell the gushers that you want to get the word out, make your sites more visible to people who can benefit from them. Ask them to promote you as a voice that needs to be heard. In order to monetize, you need traffic. Most people don't have a lot of imagination, but if you say that you want to be heard for altruistic reasons, they might get it. I looked at two of your sites, and it does seem that there is plenty of material that people would clearly see as helpful and appropriate for promotion.
posted by wryly at 10:57 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


On your Health Gazelle blog, you have a Donate button. I think you should add some text that says something like "If you find this information useful, please donate." I've seen that on other blogs.
I would also add text saying "Please share this link with friends. In all likelihood, someone you know or someone they know could probably use this information."
posted by gt2 at 10:58 AM on July 7, 2012


You seem like you have been through a lot and I know that you have a good heart, so please don't take my comments the wrong way.

Your "Homeless in San Diego" site doesn't seem like a good blog. There's a weird combination of personal (admonishing the homeless for littering, posting about how your tent got destroyed) and 'useful information' (listing cheap stores). Your "Health Gazelle" blog is just too chatty and diary-esque to be useful to anybody else. I don't know your son and, while I feel bad that he threw up from eating a roasted chicken, that information isn't useful to me in a health context. I also like tabouleh, but I can't imagine why I should pay money to read a paragraph about why the tabouleh you got from a salad bar settled your stomach.

So, that's not to say that you shouldn't combine different styles of posts--but I do feel that you could do it in a way that will reach more audience members. Pioneer Woman is an excellent example--she combines recipes, photography, homeschooling tips, and stories about her daily life. Maybe you could take inspiration and combine all of your interests in a blog? I would try and read successful blogs to see where you could improve.

Another route would be to write linkbait articles. They don't pay very much, but you might find that you have a knack for firing off a dozen in an hour or something.


Good luck.
posted by 200burritos at 10:59 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just a comment on your later Twitter-related note.

I just looked at your Twitter accounts and immediately see a few hitches. First, change the egg to a photo. It doesn't have to be a photo of you -- it can be the logo of one of your sites. Many people have policies not to follow accounts without avatars because so many spammer accounts look like that.

Second, you're not following anyone. Unless your famous, or if you know people in real life, you need to follow people if you want to be followed. Find at least a dozen people or companies who tweet interesting things. Start with @copyblogger, for example, and @problogger, and some medical bloggers; read their links and retweet. People follow those who post interesting things, but since you're not interacting with anyone, nobody on Twitter is seeing your tweets -- it's like you've built a billboard, but it's in your backyard, with a tarp over it! Why would anyone promote you if you're not interacting with them in the first place? Twitter has been incredibly good for me, professionally, because I interact with numerous people in my industry -- not just my colleagues, but BIG businesses that are adjunct to what I do. Because I've built relationships with them, they've done tons to help promote me...and vice versa. Basically, your tweets should be about 70%+ interactions with others or generally useful information and less than 30% self-promotion. The more you interact with others, the more people will be supportive of you.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 11:08 AM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Okay, I've just spent some time looking through your sites (the ones where the links worked, anyway -- might want to fix that in your MeFi profile) and . . . look, there's no nice way to say this: people are giving you well-meaning pity.

They feel sorry for you. And they feel sorry for you because your content is written and structured to drive a pity-induced response.

Unless you're a kid with a cleft palate in southeast Asia, pity doesn't generate money.

This was my gut reaction to your sites and what you've written: If you have enough free time and energy to go around and create all these sites, and update them, then why do you need ME to give YOU money? You've clearly got some level of up-and-at-'em, so why you're not using that in a more productive fashion to figure out how to solve your money situation is beyond me. Except that, again, you've crafted a very specific narrative about your life, and you have come, it seems, to believe it too strongly.

You are just this side of demanding that other people support you, and sister, that's just the wrong attitude to have -- I mean, you can see how well it's worked out for you thus far.

A serious reassessment of your life, your skills, and your options is overdue. But first, you've got to abandon the sense of entitlement.
posted by gsh at 11:38 AM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


I read some of your blogs, and I don't think they're particularly good. I think people you talk to are being encouraging because it's clear you've had a hard life. (That's social politeness, not genuine interest.)

BUT! They do have potential. For example, your San Diege homeless guide was full of informative information that could be very helpful to a homeless person. Monetizing it could be difficult (since the homeless don't have a lot of money to spend, or reliable internet access). But I think it's doable. For example, there are a lot of people who want to volunteer in their spare time and do good public works, but don't have the time since most volunteer opportunities take place during the workday. If you could offer resources that let volunteerism-minded people know the best ways they can volunteer to help the homeless outside of normal business hours, you would be attracting more traffic to your site.

Most of the problem with your writing style is that you make it about YOU all the time. People don't want to know about other people unless you give them a compelling reason. Imagine picking up a book where the narrator immediately starts by complaining about all the problems they are having. It wouldn't be very compelling, would it? First the audience needs to develop an emotional bond with the narrator, then you bring up problems that the narrator must overcome. I would recommend focusing your writing more on the world around you, and the trials and tribulations of the other people you meet (whether homeless people, social workers, or others you interact with). This will make you seem much more compassionate, and consequently people will empathize with you more. Most importantly, I suggest trying to conclude each post with a short "call to action" - some pragmatic and relatively easy way that people can do something to improve the lives of everybody (not just you, but homeless people in general) in that situation without directly giving money. Identifying a problem is useful, but "calls to action" incentivize people to become more personally involved and make them feel good about themselves for doing so.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your post prompted me to look up The Homeless Guy. Kevin Barbieux, the creator, was in the news years and years ago. In revisiting his blog now, I feel as if it has a much less personal, more community-oriented and utilitarian appearance than it used to. (If you scratch the surface, you find personal information but again, my impression is that it used to be much more at the forefront.) My sense-- someone with more knowledge of blogging than I have may come along and contradict--is that this reflects a general shift in the blogging world. When Barbieux first started, he appeared in a lot of major news outlets because because people thought it was amazing that a homeless person was blogging at all. Now, I don't think being any category of person blogging is going to get you in any doors; the field's just too choked with bloggers, plus a lot of people are pretty much over the kind of blog Barbieux was doing in 2002 or 2003.

I think people respond to you because you seem like a nice, interesting person, but this is not a moment when those qualities will get you a solid number of readers or sponsors. Hell, I'd like to see dooce re-create her success today.
posted by BibiRose at 11:49 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with what everyone else has said about Twitter. I'll add that in my experience with it (I haven't been on it long, and I'm not following or followed by very many people as of yet) people tend to "promote" things they like out of genuine enthusiasm. It's different if you're dealing with an existing business, or the world of bloggers who review products and PR people, that's obviously more...directly promotional, I guess. But in terms of content that's less clearly product/service/stuff-related, I think people mostly tweet about what they just like or find interesting, regardless of whether they or you will make money from the attention.

As for your sites, it seems you're spreading yourself very thin and concentrating on one or two might be a better approach. There's certainly a market for alternative medicine and food/health tips out there, but I think the site would have to be much better organized and less personal, unless your personal story could be told in an unusually inspiring way. People do pay for health and diet tips. The San Diego one seems to contain some useful info, if - again - it could be organized more clearly. But I don't see that ever making money. My first thought is, what if you expanded it to, like, a huge sort of database of cheap/free things in San Diego. Which could range from homeless services, to medical clinics, to how to live as a poor student, to fun free stuff to do, to budget travel advice, etc. Something like that, if it doesn't already exist, would be a popular thing for such a large city, I would think.

Good luck.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2012


This has been going on for years and started well before I became homeless. That is not to say it isn't due to my sob story, but it is not all due to my sob story. Getting myself well took all my resources -- time, energy, money, you name it -- and I did not want to be promoted for a time. But now I need to be promoted. I am aware there are issues of various sorts with the sites.

The health site is so scattered because I cannot get anyone to engage me. My condition is very deadly. Saying I have gotten well gets very polarized reactions from people. They either want me to be their personal savior, which I cannot do and will not work, or they call me a liar and worse. I have spent years backing away from fights about this. Fighting with people who are dying is not a way to win their hearts. I am at an impasse as to how to not sound like an egomaniac and teller of tall tales while telling the truth. That is consistently what I get told. It makes me really crazy.

With being homeless and jobless, I now have time to write and develop them for the first time. But being homeless hurts my credibility. It's extremely frustrating. It seems like no matter what I do, I am damned if I do and damned if I don't.

I am also really short of sleep today, so probably not replying to everything I should. Thanks for all the responses so far. I usually don't get much response when I asked these questions. That alone is meaningful to me.
posted by Michele in California at 12:18 PM on July 7, 2012


The health site is so scattered because I cannot get anyone to engage me. My condition is very deadly. Saying I have gotten well gets very polarized reactions from people. They either want me to be their personal savior, which I cannot do and will not work, or they call me a liar and worse. I have spent years backing away from fights about this. Fighting with people who are dying is not a way to win their hearts. I am at an impasse as to how to not sound like an egomaniac and teller of tall tales while telling the truth. That is consistently what I get told. It makes me really crazy.

This is not really what's going on. I'm sorry. The issue is that you have not been able to extract tips or hints or guidelines from your own experience, which makes your experience worthless. "Consuming citric acid helps X symptom, here are some ways to get it, here is why it works" is a tip. "I ate half a lemon meringue pie" is not a tip. People other than CF patients would be interested if you were offering information, but that is not happening here.
posted by liketitanic at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Editorial content is exceptionally hard to monetize. The (lack) of ad revenue of incredibly well-established non-subscription editorial content brands would shock you. No one without decades of print brand history and dozens of writers on staff has made a go of pay walls for non-professional content. User-generated content monetizes itself only because of the incredible quantity of it and the inherent advantage that your users both give you content for free and promote you while they are promoting themselves. Tough problem.
posted by MattD at 12:43 PM on July 7, 2012


Oh, and I have fixed the broken links in my profile. Thank you for telling me that.
posted by Michele in California at 12:52 PM on July 7, 2012


Many people have given you some excellent advice about the tone and scope of your content. I would spend some time figuring out who your target audience is, what kind of information/entertainment/interaction they actually want, and how you are positioned to give it to them. Only then can you develop a website that has any chance of making money.

I also noticed that there are a substantial number of typos and grammatical errors on your blogs. Those kinds of minor mistakes make your content feel more amateurish, which makes people less likely to feel inclined to pay for it. In addition, I think it's highly unlikely that people are going to read a website that describes itself as "Out of date, full of typos and broken links." Either fix the problems or take those sections off the site entirely, because they're contributing to an overall image that is not what you're hoping to project.

Additionally, is there a reason that you don't allow comments on your blog posts? If your goal is to get people to spend a lot of time on your websites, you need to give them something to do there, which means fostering conversations with you and other readers.

Finally, it looks as though you update each site once or twice a week at the most. If you want to make a full-time salary at this, you need to treat it like a full-time job. That means multiple substantive posts every single day. Readers have no reason to visit your site unless they expect to find interesting new content, and right now, you're not updating often enough to create such an expectation.

Bottom line: if you want to have any chance of making money, you need to write more and you need to write better (both in terms of the quality of your posts and in terms of targeting your audience). But the truth is that very, very few people, even amazing writers with large audiences, ever make a living selling their writing. For every dooce.com, there are a thousand talented, funny mommy-bloggers who have never made more than a few dollars on their sites. For every Instapundit, there are thousands of people writing awesome, insightful political blogs that only have a hundred readers apiece. As in any creative field, being good just isn't enough. Some of it is just dumb luck. No matter how good you are, and no matter how much people like your stuff, you may never be able to support yourself as a self-employed writer. So I think that in addition to taking some of the advice here about improving your websites, you should also think about other paying jobs that the writing skills you're developing might qualify you to do.
posted by decathecting at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay, trying to clarify a few things as bet I can:

Years ago, my posts to a small email list for GT homeschoolers were seemingly popular. A friend asked to repost one of my emails to her business website. It turned gradually into a small site that I ultimately took over. Initially, I was a homemaker. There was no intent to monetize it. I got divorced. There was still demand for the information. It was very niche but I would get an email saying "I got your name and address from a mutual friend..." These were people with huge personal issues who had been failed by all kinds of experts. We would talk. They would find solutions. I was increasingly trying to make the info public to help more people and make it less personal.

I have helped a lot of people over the years, at no charge. They get offended if I indicate I need money. They view it as "friendship" when it was more like free consulting. I cannot charge as a consultant. I am not a credentialed psychiatrist or physician. But I have a long track record of helping people with the kinds of problems you normally go to see that type of professional for. Many of these people couldn't afford to pay me anyway. If I can get traffic, I figure I can make money without any one person forking over big bucks. I talk about me, me, me because I have found that telling my story and leading by example works. Telling people "your problem is x and you should do y" bombs.

Re what is going on with the health site: Thank you for saying that. I can't get people to tell me that. People gush about how they have the same birthday I have and they are so honored or they call me a liar and worse. No one will talk to me about the actual health stuff. No one will say they tried x or they read y wouldn't work. They either idolize me or viciously attack me, ignoring my attempts to talk about actual health stuff. The overwhelming cult of personality I faced was not something I understood or knew how to cope with. I don't want to be idolized. I want to talk about things that helped get me well and might help others. But I don't know how to get people to engage me on that topic. My only "credential" is I have something very deadly and was very ill at one time and got better. Stating that becomes this huge distraction where people accuse me of being an egomaniac, etc. Not stating it means I have no basis for my advice. I cannot find my way past that issue. I have tried for years.

The typos, etc: I was extremely ill for a really long time and I am still dealing with significant challenges. Those things are gradually being worked on. Again, it is getting slowly better. I need it to get a lot better a lot faster. Everything I get told that was wildly successful for others is very meh for me. Given the number of talented, intelligent, in the news people over the past, say, decade or more who sought me out, I feel like a) I should be getting mention somewhere, by someone and b) there should be some means to turn these rave reviews into something that can help me make money instead of just get pats on the head. Because self promoting so far has really bombed. How do I successfully ask? And get it!

Someone recently wanted to publish an article and asked me to write for them, then sold the publication so I was not published. They told me their life was so much better for knowing me, etc then told me what other people have told me: Go promote yourself. When I try to promote myself, I go down in flames. It is like a curse. People "discover" me and think I am fantastic. I try to tell someone I am fantastic, everyone says so, and I get seriously crapped on. I think the only way out is to convince people to tell others they have discovered something they find gush worthy.

Thanks for all the feedback so far.
posted by Michele in California at 2:39 PM on July 7, 2012


I think you're so invested in the story you've told yourself about why you haven't succeeded that you're not hearing what's being said. Those sites are not commercially marketable as they are, and that is why you aren't getting people to promote you. It's not about other people failing to acknowledge you.
posted by liketitanic at 3:39 PM on July 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


I agree with liketitanic's comments.

To make your sites marketable, at a minimum, you'd have to change your approach to organizing information.

Your current approach seems to be based on giving first-person accounts of your life.

Yes, you'll also sprinkle some hints at what others could do to help themselves. But the reader has to go searching for those hints.

Here's the more commercial approach:

Highlight your tips.

What do I mean by "highlight"? Put them first. Put them in bold. Put them in list form.

After you've given the information that broadly applies to lots of readers, then give a specific illustration.

Another problem: each of your paragraphs has many sentences. They look more dense than you might realize.

Most people don't read to the end of a multi-sentence paragraph on the internet.

See, you're reading this right now because it's a very short paragraph.

Try to keep each paragraph very focused on a very specific, clear point.
posted by John Cohen at 4:01 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you are mixing up what friends or colleagues have said about YOU with the quality and viability of your BLOGS. In your post and follow-up comments, you keep circling back to what people you personally know have reacted to you or your writing, or how they seem to have disappointed you, etc. But honestly, that whole narrative is totally irrelevant when it comes to building a real readership for your blogs. And building a readership is exactly what you have to do first before you can even think about making any money from blogging.

You may very well come across as warm, engaging, well-informed, etc. in person. But your blogs do not particularly convey any of these qualities. Instead, the information often comes across as merely anecdotal, and the tone seems self-referential to the point of insularity. For example, to go back to your recent lemon meringue pie post that some others have brought up: it is just a flat, frankly uninteresting recitation of eating a pie, with a single brief sentence tacked on the end about the supposed health benefits of lemon. There's no humor to the story, and no context to your assertion. Now, if you just want your blog to be a place to record your thoughts, that's a perfectly sufficient post. But if you're going to keep insisting that people should be supporting your financially due to your writing, then you're going to have to craft much better content than that.

The bottom line is that I do not see much on any of your blogs that is either useful or engaging to anyone who doesn't personally know you already. But it's precisely thousands and thousands of people who don't personally know you (and never will) who you have to sell on the idea of reading your work. This is the most basic prerequisite you must meet BEFORE you can sell your blogging to others as a viable money-making venture.

On preview, liketitantic has it exactly:I think you're so invested in the story you've told yourself about why you haven't succeeded that you're not hearing what's being said. Those sites are not commercially marketable as they are, and that is why you aren't getting people to promote you. It's not about other people failing to acknowledge you.
posted by scody at 4:08 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It was very niche but I would get an email saying "I got your name and address from a mutual friend..." These were people with huge personal issues who had been failed by all kinds of experts.

I have helped a lot of people over the years, at no charge. They get offended if I indicate I need money.

I cannot charge as a consultant. I am not a credentialed psychiatrist or physician... Many of these people couldn't afford to pay me anyway.

Given the number of talented, intelligent, in the news people over the past, say, decade or more who sought me out, I feel like a) I should be getting mention somewhere, by someone and b) there should be some means to turn these rave reviews into something that can help me make money instead of just get pats on the head.


I think these people saw you as an individual with some relevant experience, not a professional. You can decide to charge for what you write, as long as you're not claiming to be an accredited health professional, but a) you can't guarantee anyone will pay for it and b) you can't feel bad for people who don't. Those people can't be your audience anymore.

The typos, etc: I was extremely ill for a really long time and I am still dealing with significant challenges.

I sympathize with you, because I know how bad it feels whan a physical problem prevents you from doing something as well as you otherwise could, but if you're going to do this as a job and not a personal hobby, no one will give a fuck.

They either idolize me or viciously attack me, ignoring my attempts to talk about actual health stuff... I want to talk about things that helped get me well and might help others. But I don't know how to get people to engage me on that topic.

I'm not sure who you're referring to here. If you mean readers of your blog who contact you, then for one thing, you can't entirely control how they engage you. Some people who read what you put out there will just "get it," and others will choose to comment on the most random little part of what you said that you didn't even intend to be the point. Or they'll get stuck on something else entirely, something personal, or a misunderstanding, etc. If this bothers you, do not pursue this, it's going to be very stressful to deal with and probably not worth it. The other thing is, if everyone is reacting to what you say in the "wrong" way, maybe you're saying it in the wrong way. You might know what you intend to communicate, but it's not coming across right, so you're not getting the responses you anticipate.

Because self promoting so far has really bombed. How do I successfully ask? And get it!

Some genius might know the short-cut to this, but in my experience you simply can't. It has to come from the other person just wanting to do it.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 4:16 PM on July 7, 2012


It would help to know your stats as well. How many visitors are you getting per day, how long they stay on your site, repeat visitors, bounces, etc. All that needs to be known before you start even imagining making money.

Also, what exactly are you doing to self promote? How are you imagining to make money from what you write? A paywall/subscription? Donations? You need to be VERY specific as to what you want to see happen. I think doing a bit of studying on the business side of blogs would really help you. No blog makes money by just 'being there'. You really need to be clear on what you want these people to promote.

I have two sites. My main one is basically to sell my artwork, but on it I have many, many articles to help people get through an issue. I love that part of my site dearly and would love to get paid for my advice. But as much as people really need and use my advice, it's the selling my work that makes the money. I get many, many emails from people thanking me for what I have written and telling me that I have helped them, but it's just an extra part of what I do. It adds to the experience of my work (that is for sale), but it does not stand alone.

I am starting a secondary site that is actually sort of a self exploration site (for lack of a better term). But I have no illusions that I am going to make money from it because I am writing (and I can absolutely help people through my writing as well), but rather what I connect my site to will be what makes me money. Books, products, etc. is where I will be generating income.
posted by Vaike at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2012


I read a lot of different kinds of blogs, and the most profitable of these blogs are "mommy blogs." Only two of these bloggers actually make enough to support their families. A couple make a decent part time income by parlaying their personal blog's popularity into paid writing gigs on other blogs. The vast majority make a couple hundred bucks a month through ads and sponsored posts. There is a reason the vast majority of mommy bloggers are stay at home mothers-- it is extremely difficult to support yourself blogging. And this is in mommy blogging, which is one of the most profitable niches for marketers. Cystic Fibrosis and homelessness are vastly less interesting for brands with money to spend.

Bloggers do not make money because people pay them for their words. Words are cheap on the internet. They make money by working with companies. The exception to this is books. I know of several bloggers who --once they are already very popular-- have gotten publishing deals or released ebooks on your own.

I think your blogs are not very accessible and not very easy to read. I think you need to take one of two paths.

(1) Write a personal blog, with moving or humorous posts about your life. Do a series of posts about how you got where you are, which could include being diagnosed with CF, homelessness, etc. Don't include too much of your medical details, unless people ask. Post a few times a week, maybe once a week post about your past. Include pictures. Find other personal blogs you find interesting, and COMMENT. Also follow these bloggers on twitter and tweet them. Become regulars on their blogs and they will eventually check you out. When you get some followers, throw up some ads. Respond to every single comment and tweet you get.

**Examples:
****JanisJourney.org (Although his site is wretched. His story was all over the news and Oprah and 20/20, he has a book deal, and they're still broke.)
****Amalah.com
****PacingthePanicRoom.blogspot.com

(2) Write a tip-based blog, about CF or about homelessness. Probably CF. Every post should have a good tip placed prominently. Don't include too much about your personal life. I don't know anything about SEO, but you need to be posting the words "atypical cystic fibrosis" way more than you do. Post five days a week. Again, not too much about your personal life. Include pictures! You need a picture of that lemon meringue pie! Find other relevant blogs, comment, follow, tweet, etc. Also-- after you build up a bit of a relationship, offer to guest post. If you get a following, then ads and an ebook. Respond to comments and tweets.

**Examples:
****IWillTeachYoutoBeRich.com
****PinchofYum.com
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:47 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, my last link is broken. PinchofYum.com. I meant to mention, it is really worth clicking on, because the husband of the blogger writes a super straightforward monthly income report here. Last month they made about $3,000, which included ads from two networks, ebook sales, freelance writing, and lots of referral links from their Resources for Food Bloggers page.

Obviously, you won't be writing a food blog, but I think it might be really helpful for you to see how much a successful* blog actually brings in.

*Almost 250,000 visits during the month in question.
posted by that's how you get ants at 6:02 PM on July 7, 2012


They all want a personal relationship to me as an individual and they want me to do all the giving and get nothing in return. There have been exceptions... but the support is very few and far between compared to the people who gush at me like I am the greatest thing since sliced bread and then spit in my face and tell me my websites have zero commercial value, cannot be monetized, and so forth.

If people want a personal relationship with you then that's what you should monetize. Be a life coach, a counselor, a confidant, a correspondent.

As others have pointed out, it is very very hard to make money from blogging. When it happens, it is often because the blogging opens the door to some other kind of business or relationship, such as product promotion (mommy blogs) or book deals.

In your case the product is you and the relationship with you and the ability to have a correspondence with you.

It's much easier to make a living at $100/hour than it is to make a living at $0.05/cpm.

Take the feedback people are giving you. Listen to what they are saying is valuable and what is not. They appear to be smart and well-intentioned, so maybe there is something to what they are saying.
posted by alms at 8:10 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


You have three options:

1. Monetize your blogs. This requires an incredible amount of effort on an on-going basis and almost no one is able to really make bucks doing this, certainly not without a significant amount of material, a unique, consistent and compelling voice and some longevity in a subject area that's either a niche with money attached or a very popular topic that you bring something special to.

2. Create content you can sell. This isn't a blog - this is an ebook or a course or something that people pay for in a discrete money for product transaction.

3. Get paid for direct access to you. Maybe you don't have specific credentials but I'm not sure you need them, so long as you avoid doing anything you market as specific mental health services. You merely need to consult. Since this is what you say people you like what you do really want from you then give it them with a price tag attached.

Really, your money will/can/should come from a combination of #2 and #3. You only use #1 to establish (a) an audience for your products and services and (b) the expertise necessary to convince this audience it's worth paying for additional access to it.
posted by marylynn at 8:49 PM on July 7, 2012


I appreciate the ongoing feedback. I had maybe five hours sleep last nigh and too much drama today. I am not up to writing anything substantive. But did want to say thanks and let people know I am still reading.
posted by Michele in California at 9:10 PM on July 7, 2012


but the support is very few and far between compared to the people who gush at me like I am the greatest thing since sliced bread and then spit in my face and tell me my websites have zero commercial value, cannot be monetized, and so forth.

You sound really, really bitter. Getting advice from others with which you disagree or that disappoints you is not "spitting in your face." I understand that money is an overwhelming need, but the way you seem to consistently conflate personal value with commercial value is not doing you any favors.

When someone feels that they have made a personal connection, they're not expecting their new friend to be cranky because she hasn't been paid for her services. We don't generally reward our friends with money, we reward them with emotional support and admiration.
posted by desuetude at 9:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be reluctant to take medical advice from your blog. If you're going to advocate something as unusual as pouring peroxide on your food before eating it, you really ought to link to some respectable sources to back it up; otherwise you risk looking wingnutty. If you want to be a useful resource you need to have more than just anecdotes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:46 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know people who make personal connections and it turns into money. It turns into paid work and it turns into being promoted on the blog of some influential, respected person. I know some of the inside stories. These people aren't any less drama and hassle than I am and the basis for the connections is no less personal sob story and folks feeling sorry for them than what some people do to me combined with "and they are really smart and talented so we will put up with their shit". In other words, it is essentially the same situation I have only their connections become money. Mine don't. Even when it is the same people.

Yes, at the moment I happen to feel pretty bitter about that. It is a long story but some of these people got a lot out of me, it helped them make big forward progress no one else could help them with and when I asked them to help me develop and commercialize my sites, they did spit in my face. Please just take my word for that. I am not interested in trying to prove how ugly some of these people have been to me after saying for months they loved me, they respected me, etc (no, this was not a romantic entanglement).
posted by Michele in California at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2012


You say you have readers who have found your blogs to be helpful. You could ask them for specifics, and then concentrate on those areas. Looking through your blogs I see a lot of rambling. If you could focus on your areas of strength, maybe that could help you sell targeted advertising.

You might also want to pick just one blog and concentrate your efforts on that.

I don't know enough about astrology or cystic fibrosis to tell if there's anything unique or helpful about your blogs that make them stand out from all the other astrology or CF blogs; again, this would be a place where you want to get specific feedback from the people who say your writing has helped them. Ask them which posts they liked, what was useful about them, and then do more like that.

I do read a lot of blogs about raising kids with special needs, so I was interested in reading yours -- but there are only six posts in it, none of which I found helpful or entertaining. Unless you can come up with some original take on it, I don't recommend pursuing this area.

These people aren't any less drama and hassle than I am and the basis for the connections is no less personal sob story

Maybe their blogs are better than yours.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:54 AM on July 8, 2012


In other words, it is essentially the same situation I have only their connections become money.

Yeah, some of this is the dumb luck part. What you're saying is equivalent to saying, "I know people who have gone from playing high school basketball to the NBA, and I don't understand why that's not happening to me, even though everyone says I'm an awesome basketball player." People who get paid for blogging, like people who get paid to be professional basketball players, are exceptionally talented, exceptionally dedicated, and exceptionally lucky.

Is there a reason that you've decided to hang your financial hopes on blogging, specifically? Because it seems as though there are a lot of different paths open to you, some of which have a much higher likelihood of creating a stable income for you and your children. I ask this not to be cruel, but rather because it seems as though some of the things that have brought you to this point in the first place are also likely to stand in the way of success at this venture, but wouldn't necessarily be barriers in other fields. For example, if your goal is to become famous enough to make a living blogging, you need to be prepared for the fact that many, many people are going to say and write ugly, hateful things about you. Many people are going to try to glom onto your success and try to take advantage of you. Many people are going to spit in your face. If you don't have an unusually thick skin, that will drive you crazy all the time.

Additionally, if your health problems or your living situation or any of the other circumstances of your life are going to cause you to go long stretches without posting or prevent you from making the necessary improvements to your site, that will stand in your way. You have ample justification for those issues, but your reasons for being unable to keep up with your commitments aren't going to matter to your readers or to the people who pay you; all they're going to care about is that they aren't getting what they feel entitled to from you. And they too might get angry and say nasty things about you and abandon you when you need them most.

I realize that I'm probably going beyond the scope of your question here, but I guess I would suggest that you broaden your focus. By all means, pursue your dream of making a living as a writer, but don't pursue that singularly. Instead, pursue a wide variety avenues that could lead to financial stability. This can't be your only plan, because given that you're pursuing a career in which the chances of success are so slim and so out of your control, you need to have some backup plans.
posted by decathecting at 8:54 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


As far as making money from your blogs, I would make them all into one interesting blog for starters. Consolidate. Also I must tell you, if I see a bunch of typos, I hit the X. It's just not professional enough to inspire that extra oomph that you need.

When you stumble, get back up. If you get criticized, TRY to detach emotionally from it and take heed. If someone spits in your face, wipe the spit off and smile and say "Thank you, asshole, that helped me learn an important lesson". Don't give people so much that you have none for yourself.

You seem like a nice person who is at their maximum limit of stress. Just take a minute to regroup and get it together. You know you need to stay positive, it's a mental game. Good luck.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2012


Michele, I think your question was kind of on two levels: personal and practical. All the answers on the personal level are going to be based on some degree of speculation, especially given the way that you are framing things. Or they will be pretty generic, like, "The only constant in all these relationships is you, so focus on what you are doing." But the thing is, the answer to the personal question doesn't really matter if your main concern is practical.

On the practical level, it seems like you are asking about how to make your blogging profitable. The answers accumulating on that side seem to be, it's nearly impossible with blogging as such. If you do know people who have made money by blogging, you should ask them how they did it. And try to do more of that. But seriously, I think you also need to assess whether this is really a viable path.

I understand that separating the personal stuff from the practical is somewhat artificial. When job and money things are difficult there is usually a certain amount of personal aggro involved as well. But it sounds to me like if you understand what the problems are on the practical level it will go a long way to reducing the amount of time spent on the personal angst.
posted by BibiRose at 9:10 AM on July 8, 2012


There are more than six posts on kids like mine. I changed the linkin my profile this morning to the blog part. See http://www.kidslikemine.com for the older part. That part is basically an archive and I will leave it up but not develop it. I changed the link because people keep saying "wall of text" and "ugh! Hideous!" Which I suspect is about the older part of klm and hg. The part I am actively developing is the wordpress blog portion. I want the focus on that.

The typos are more an issue for older parts of the sites. I do work hard at making things correct now but I am unlikely to be able to go clean up old posts. I need to move forward and put up new content, not obsess about imperfect old content. But I think the old parts need to remain up. I struggle with how best to present that and communicate to people that "here is the historical stuff, some of which had good info I can't replicate BUT here on this other part is place for fresh content". That is not to excuse quality issues or the like. That is just to say that I have challenges with keeping the old and also moving forward but I think the old stuff needs to remain, at least most of it.

My health problems are being resolved and I am gradually getting more productive. I expect in the future to be able to perform consistently. I need to get an online income because it is genetic in origin, thus incurable. I have figured out how to get well but staying well means having a high degree of control over my environment and not being exposed to the germs and chemicals most jobs would expose me to. That is why I want an online income. I think that is the only viable path forward, healthwise and, ultimately, financially. My financial mess is mostly rooted in my health issues. My condition is very expensive. My finances have improved with being homeless and jobless because having a job that keeps me sick winds up costing more than it takes in.

Ultimately, I want to do a comic. I am not there yet. I have a brain dumo site where I post collages of photos,and the like, trying to capture imagery in my head etc. I am not ready to draw. I hope to be soon. I think that will be where the money is for me, ultimately. I am still trying to figure out some technical aspects to that as well.
posted by Michele in California at 9:29 AM on July 8, 2012


I agree in consolidating the sites. It would fill up your content, make it more of a story (as your posts are more personal story-like in form already), and then have subcategories. You can bring it all together by your personality, your personal journey or other commonalities. It will be easier to maintain as well. Promoting multiple sites makes the work so much harder.

Also, instead of re-editing older posts, you could update them and draw them into the context of the newer content. I have done that often with aged posts that I realize weren't as flushed out as I would have liked them to be.

And take some time to let the bitterness go. It can't be good for your health, and, ultimately, you can't control other people anyway. Just take that energy and put it into yourself moving forward. Also, don't compare yourself to other people who are making money from their sites. Luck does play into it.
posted by Vaike at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can I get people to stop gushing at me and instead promote me?

How do I turn all this "gosh, you are so adorable, gush gush" response into website traffic and, from there, money?

What am I doing wrong that I cannot capitalize on this situation?


You have successfully garnered some sympathy (people are "gushing" about your cathartic online posts where you disclose personal details) but it has not converted into financial rewards. You ask how to take things to the next level?

First, consider why people "give" or "help" others. Here is a partial list of reasons:

1. giving to someone makes them feel good about themselves (self-verification)
2. they feel powerful by "righting" something they perceive as wrong
3. they witness someone handle a tough situation with more grace than they would be capable of (so they "give" in order to regain their sense of worth)
4. they have a chance to screw their personal enemies by giving to someone
5. they know it will be put to good use and feel it is "teaching that person to fish"
6. they felt reminded of a time in their own life where someone helped them (paying it forward)
7. they remembered a similiar experience they suffered through and had to handle alone
8. they are re-paying by proxy an old "debt"/burden of some kind
9. they feel relief by focusing on someone else and getting to avoid their own problems
10. they feel guilty for not having enough problems of their own

Notice how each of those reasons is mostly about the audience's motivations? In other words, you can't just focus on writing about yourself or the details of your life. You have to work at telling a story in a way that involves your readers and creates an environment where they want to get involved. Then they will help you because you are giving them something they need. And they will tend to boast to their friends about how they helped you, which in turn will generate more traffic.

Besides improving the storyline, another thing you can do is take cash out of the equation and instead ask for specific stuff (Amazon wish list of only practical items) or gift cards (for supermarkets or drug stores) or to pay certain bills directly (such as utilities or the copay for doctor's visit). People might be more inclined to help if they know where their money is going. That won't put cash directly in your pocket, but it will free up your existing resources so you can make your own money go further.

tl;dr: You need to be manipulating your audience more effectively and focusing less on the personal catharsis.
posted by 99percentfake at 10:37 AM on July 8, 2012


I couldn't agree more with what Vaike said, both in specifics and in general. The good thing about any creative pursuit is that you have complete control over how it progresses. The bad part of that is you have pretty much zero control over how it is received. And all kinds of things can set you back, usually the ones you don't expect.

The trick is, when your chance does come, you have to have work to show. Hopefully a lot of work. You can't control when someone will notice you, only how much you have to show them when they do. You need to get into a spot where your blog is polished and ready to go at any moment.

A random suggestion: find some positive, inspirational people to add to your twitter feed. Anne Lamott is great for this.
posted by BibiRose at 10:43 AM on July 8, 2012


For your San Diego Homeless Survival Guide and Health Gazelle blogs specifically, adding tags to posts and creating a tag cloud or an subject index would be infinitely helpful for readers. Currently the only way to navigate these blogs is to read through all the posts or visit the archives and read the titles of individual posts (which aren't always clear indicators of the content of the post).

I think the San Diego Homeless Survival Guide is pretty great. It needs a little bit of work (e.g. copyediting, adding links), but it's a great resource. If I were you I'd go to public libraries around San Diego and share it with the librarians who might be able to direct homeless people who could use the information toward it. Is this going to help you monetize? No. As others have said, the people who need that type of information don't really have the capacity to pay for it.

When it comes to the content of your Health Gazelle and Kids Like Mine blogs, honestly—and this is going to be harsh, I'm sorry—I just don't trust your advice. Your son's body has the capacity to selectively throw up one type of food he ate? Pour household peroxide over meat? Give your 8 month old pennies to play with to keep them occupied? If I have to visit other websites to confirm your advice is reliable, it is useless to me. If another blog or website has the same or better information than your blog you're going to have a really hard time monetizing. You have to be the best, most reliable blog on your topic, or you have to offer people something they can't get elsewhere. Your blogs currently do neither of these things.

I really think you need to read decathing's analogy a few times, because she's absolutely right.

What you're saying is equivalent to saying, "I know people who have gone from playing high school basketball to the NBA, and I don't understand why that's not happening to me, even though everyone says I'm an awesome basketball player." People who get paid for blogging, like people who get paid to be professional basketball players, are exceptionally talented, exceptionally dedicated, and exceptionally lucky.

You don't seem to be understanding what most people in this thread are telling you: monetizing a blog is extremely difficult. If it was easy everyone would do it. It happens occasionally that a blog is a hit, but this is not a viable path toward financial prosperity.
posted by postpostpostscript at 10:54 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


But I think the old parts need to remain up. I struggle with how best to present that and communicate to people that "here is the historical stuff, some of which had good info I can't replicate BUT here on this other part is place for fresh content". That is not to excuse quality issues or the like. That is just to say that I have challenges with keeping the old and also moving forward but I think the old stuff needs to remain, at least most of it.

Almost nobody is going to go to old, broken looking sites for information, especially when your site basically says "Click here for typos and broken links!" You need to get that content into an attractive, current format, even if you just copy and paste into a new Wordpress post. It could be a new category or series, where you repost your findings from back when you were figuring it all out the first time. It'd be even more compelling if you added an update at the end of each of these posts telling how things worked out.

Another option is to compile all of this information into an ebook, then offer it for free or very, very cheap. I think the Kids Like Mine stuff could be put in an ebook pretty easily, since it's already organized hierarchically.

Neither of these options is at all quick or easy, but successful bloggers spend a LOT of time on their blogs.
posted by that's how you get ants at 11:05 AM on July 8, 2012


I try to tell someone I am fantastic, everyone says so, and I get seriously crapped on

But none of this is true, here. You have told us you wish to make money from blogging; you have been told this is not going to happen as is because your blogs are nowhere near good enough for that, and that is, well, the answer to your question.

You seem determined to ignore the answer, and happy to go off on tangents about trying to engage with people and fighting with people and other things that are making absolutely no sense at all to anybody on here. Nobody understands who these people are or what they have to do with the attempts at blogging. What people have said to you is really not relevant at all to the question you are asking (how do I monetise/promote these blogs) and I can't understand why that isn't clear. You seem to have a real disconnect with, disrespect for, even, the people you are trying to interact with on-line, here included. When you wrote "Donation goal: $1,200/month," did you stop to think why people should give you that much money? What that is is cyberpanhandling, not 'monetising a blog.'

If you are unable to write without mistakes because of your illness I am afraid that that is pretty much a deal-breaker. But if you are really surrounded by admiring and grateful people perhaps one of them would help with the copy-editing? If you find you gain something from having personal blogs, something non-financial, you may find it worth it to put in more effort.

I know people who make personal connections and it turns into money. It turns into paid work and it turns into being promoted on the blog of some influential, respected person. I know some of the inside stories. These people aren't any less drama and hassle than I am and the basis for the connections is no less personal sob story and folks feeling sorry for them than what some people do to me combined with "and they are really smart and talented so we will put up with their shit". In other words, it is essentially the same situation I have only their connections become money. Mine don't. Even when it is the same people.

You have to accept that it is not "essentially the same situation." You are either mis-reading the amount of "drama and hassle" (and it would seem from your added info that there is a lot of drama, incredible amounts with great numbers of people; you don't really explain but keeping making allusions to lots of people having interactions with you with a very unusual level of drama in them), or...I mean, I am not aware of any bloggers making any sort of real income when their content is not remotely professional. You are not hearing the stuff about people not being interested in the fact that you ate a pie, you are not hearing the stuff about the typos, you are not hearing the stuff about your not having useful information to offer, and you are not hearing that some of the "information" is an outright turn-off -- peroxide on meat, "I also have a high IQ. I am signed onto TAG (talented and gifted) lists and other lists because I cannot find a large group of intelligent people to hang out with and exchange ideas with in my town of 100,000" -- come on, who's going to read past that sentence?

This is all very unfortunate as you seem well-meaning, but you are also being unusually obstinate. Usually, when people ask questions here, it is because they value the advice of the community here. Instead you are seemingly dismissing anything and everything that is not "You could improve your blog by doing X," even though the consensus is that blogging is not going to be a viable way to generate an income for you.
posted by kmennie at 1:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


With the help of family, I am trying to sirt out the immediate financial crisis. So, in brief, it is not that I expect this to be easy. It is not that I am failing to understand this will be hard and, even if I work hwrd and am smart etc, it may still fail. I understand that perfectly. However, I have done some really hard things. I was bedridden 11 years ago. I spent a year at death's door. I spent 3.5 years in constant excruciating please-kill-me-now pain that painkillers could not touch. I used to have a hole in one lung. I used to be on eight prescription drugs. I am now drug free. I no longer have a hole in my lung. Most days, I have very little pain. Even on "bad" days, I hurt a lot less than I used to.

This is not my best shot at supporting myself. It is possibly my only shot. Even if it fails, being healthy but homeless has been better quality of life than I have ever known. I still belong to a couple of CF lists. The challenges involved in being homeless are a minor nuisance compared to the nightmare of endless drugs and surgeries that my life is supposed to be and basically once was.

I am not "deaf". I am just using a different yardstick and not finding the challenge particularly threatening. That doesn't mean I think it won't require a lot of work. I am okay with working hard. Normal challenges of that sort is what I have spent the last eleven years fighting for access to. Nor am I worried about what other people do. I am, in fact, hear asking what the hell I am doing wrong given that I cannot seem to monetize personal assets (like charisma, not my websites per se) when I know for a fact other people do that all the time. I have seen them do it. What secret handshake am I missing?

There has to something wrong with how I am interacting with people. Whether it is a relationship to an audience or a relationship to an influential individual, making money fundamentally boils down to managing some kind of relationship. Money is a medium of exchange. It is a means to interact with others. That's it. That is the only real value it has, that it lubricates commerce and makes it easier and more efficient than barter. You can't eat it. You can't drink it. You can't wear it. You can't bribe a tree with it. You can use it to get things from other members of the human species. Money is fundamentally about other people, especially if you are trading in information, which is basically what I am doing.
posted by Michele in California at 2:13 PM on July 8, 2012


I am, in fact, hear asking what the hell I am doing wrong given that I cannot seem to monetize personal assets (like charisma, not my websites per se) when I know for a fact other people do that all the time. I have seen them do it. What secret handshake am I missing?

You have also been repeatedly told what you're doing wrong, in a dozen different ways by a dozen different people. It is "your websites, per se." You don't have "information to trade." But also, look, I haven't even met you and I am annoyed with myself for putting any time at all in trying to help you. You're rejecting help over and over again. I can't imagine that this is the only venue where you do it.
posted by liketitanic at 2:20 PM on July 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


There has to something wrong with how I am interacting with people. Whether it is a relationship to an audience or a relationship to an influential individual,

I think this is true. And I think you are getting the answer to this question right here in the thread, even though you seem to be ignoring it: 1) You don't appear to be able meaningfully engage with what people are telling you. Instead, you respond defensively or tangentially when you are told things that are out of sync with your pre-existing narrative. This will generally make people not want to help you. 2) Though there are useful elements to some of your blogs (the Homeless in San Diego one, in particular), in general the content, tone, quality, and design of your blogs are simply not adequate for the purposes of building a large, loyal readership.

What secret handshake am I missing?

There is no secret handshake. Your blogs as presently written are not commercially viable. This is the objective problem. It cannot be overcome by secret handshakes, marketing strategies, networking skills, personal interactions, or the fact that people have complimented you in the past.
posted by scody at 2:52 PM on July 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


I am sorry I have come across as annoying or rejecting help. Let me say again: Thank you to everyone who has taken some time out of their day to give me the feedback I asked for. I apologize for typos, distraction, and lack of smoothness during this difficult weekend.

I feel I have gotten a lot of useful feedback, much more than I normally get. I know people frequently feel I am not addressing their point. It is kind of an occupational hazard: I solve hard problems by framing them differently from other people and focusing on details other people think are irrellevent. I don't think I am going off on a tangent when I do that. I am trying to communicate what I see as the issue or my best understanding of it. I have to start where my understanding of the issue is, no matter how flawed.


Anyway, back to dealing with lawyers.

Thanks.
posted by Michele in California at 3:05 PM on July 8, 2012


I am going to mark this as resolved. I have a lot to work with here. I don't know that anymore feedback at this time would be of any help. However, I am always open to receiving email or memail for any reason. So if there is something more someone feels the need to say, please do not hesitate.

In closing, I will note that I have made about $1200 online this year between freelance work and my websites. This is the first time I have ever made more than just enough to cover webhosting. It is also the first time I have had opportunity to work at all consistently on this. So the early indications are that this can work, I just need to improve on what I am doing -- which is exactly why I have been seeking feedback here and elsewhere in recent weeks and slowly acting on it as best I can.

And I apologize again for the emo drama backdrop this weekend.
posted by Michele in California at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2012


Final suggestion: If webhosting is eating up your money, switch to a free hosted platform. Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogger... all free hosting. If you're homeless and struggling, paying for blog hosting is probably one of the last things you should be doing.
posted by erst at 8:08 PM on July 8, 2012


Thanks.

My webhosting is currently a gift from a business person. My domain names are also being covered. The homeless blog is on blogger. I started it when I had no resources for anything like that. My webhosting has been covered by other people for like the last four years or the sites would have come down a long time ago since my financial problems significantly preceded my eviction. That is part of why I think there is demand for what I know: In spite of almost never being updated while I was struggling to get well, being full of typos and a legion of other shortcomings, people don't want them to go away.
posted by Michele in California at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2012


Oh, sorry, I figured "This is the first time I have ever made more than just enough to cover webhosting" meant, you know, that you were paying for webhosting.
posted by erst at 9:02 PM on July 8, 2012


No big. I meant that in previous years, I only made enough to just cover webhosting (when things were not being updated, etc) but now that I have managed to put a little work into the sites, I am making a smidgeon of money, enough to think this is not simply batshit insane or pie in the sky fantasy. If I keep at it, I think I can make it work.

Thank you. :-)
posted by Michele in California at 9:09 PM on July 8, 2012


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