Monday, September 24, 2012

A book of worries

Photo: My own

The intersection of blogging and commerce is a strange place.

On this post, alex239 commented "this is a blatant advertisement for a specific brand of razors. Slaves to advertising, all of ya! so cute." 12:18 a.m.

Unsatisfied that the comment didn't show up immediately, alex expanded on that thought. "This is an obvious advertisement for a specific brand of razors in a linkbait section at the bottom of a USA Today article. Slaves to advertising, so cute." 12:19 a.m.

Now frustrated that neither comment appeared, alex concluded that at 12:20 a.m., with two comments now so clearly ignored alex concludes one thing -- "of course, censhorship, for pointing out the obvious nature of the advertising."

When I checked my email at 12:15 p.m., these three comments awaited moderation. I published them, as I have most comments on that post. The only ones not published were either too vile to publish or spam.

My initial reaction was "Who is this online avenger and why do they think it's okay to complain about a clearly labeled commercial?" My second reaction was, I'm blogging about this. Because that's what I do when something gets my attention.

But back to Alex. The comment about the post being "linkbait" stings a little.  I haven't a clue how the linking company picked my post to place at the bottom of articles ranging from USA Today to Slate. I didn't pay for it, but I'm grateful nonetheless. Perhaps the post was chosen by outbrain because of its possibly provocative title. What not to shave.

I admit wondering what people expect to read or see when they click the link. Perhaps something more like this? I think we can all agree that with my filthy mind, I could come up with far more titillating content than a story about how I shave my toes and belly button.

This pains me greatly because very few things in this world would please me more than to have all the thousands of people who have clicked that link to read something that kept them coming back for more. Instead this feels like a missed opportunity to make a great first impression.

It's the Ice, Ice, Baby of my blogging "career." Thankfully, it's not plagiarized. Take that, Vanilla Ice.

If the linkbait comment stung, Alex's censorship comment tickled me. That, too, is commerce-related. Over a year ago, I added comment moderation to battle spam comments on my older posts. Now, any post older than four days requires comment moderation. A point which is clearly stated in the comment box that alex must have missed in the rush to have a say.

A question:  Should this convince me to decline future offers to write sponsored posts?

Over the years, when I had to ask for donations, readers suggested I monetize the blog. I resisted for a long time because I worried about how it would affect my writing. Then an opportunity arrived and I decided to risk it.

The outcome has been mixed. The money helps our still precarious financial situation. Just because I have a job doesn't mean we're still not making choices between buying gasoline to get to work and food when we reach the thin end of the month. The stats and the chance to reach a wider audience (there are some who click on other posts, thank goodness) are amazing. Other new opportunities are popping up and I'm grateful for more chances to write and be paid to do so.

When writing future sponsored posts, I'll first have to censor the alex  in my head. The Worrier. The Shamer. The Constant Questioner. Can I find a way to write well and fit the requirements that sometimes are part of writing a sponsored post?

Is it better to simply decline and take the high road for my "art?" And why do I feel like an asshole using the word art to describe what I do?

I'll start with repeating the Bill Cosby quote "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone" and go from there.


  1. I was all set upon defending thee until you mentioned the works of one Mr. Robert Van Winkle. Word to no one in particular.

    1. Shall you not defend me, sir?
      For I have invoked the name of the poptart devil
      Master of the purloined riff?

      How am I to sally forth?
      Alone. Alas alone.


  2. Shaves to advertising, so cute.

    Never miss an opporknockity to make a bad pun, says I.

    (And curse blooger for not enabling the 'strike' tag in comments.)

  3. I'm not a big Bill Cosby fan but in this I agree. Write on, dear lady, and remember, you don't owe nothing to nobody.

    1. Thank you, MSB. I must remind myself of that repeatedly. Nothing to nobody.

  4. racing my go-cart
    I let fly a fart
    and called it art

  5. Love that Cosby quote. I need to paste that on my bathroom mirror. This issue is front and center for me these last few weeks, my fear of not pleasing everyone.

    You keep on keepin' on, Lisa. When readers complain about my blog, my stock answer has become, "Last time I checked, my blog was not required reading. If you don't like what I have to say, don't read it."

    That sounds a lot braver than I feel, but I say it anyway.

    1. Ha, Teri! We're on the same wavelength there. I find myself thinking "And what gun is to your head?" when I get comments like that.

  6. "My initial reaction was "Who is this online avenger and why do they think it's okay to complain about a clearly labeled commercial?" My second reaction was, I'm blogging about this. Because that's what I do when something gets my attention."

    Oh hell yes, Lisa. I am right there with you.

    "A question:  Should this convince me to decline future offers to write sponsored posts?"

    Fuck no. Why should it? What's WRONG with getting PAID? I've been paid for sponsored posts and if people don't like it, screw em. A girls gotta eat, yo!

  7. Anyone who can't or won't read moderation warnings in a comment box and then becomes irate over being moderated clearly needs to read the sponsored post about Xanax.

    Keep writing, Lisa.

    (hey--don't suppose anyone would pay to sponsor whacky posts about my kids? 'Cause I've got more)

  8. I love that you write some paid posts. Why not? It's a practical solution to help with a need that you have. You're using your abilities to help pay the bills.

    I know another blogger who does the same - for similar reasons. In fact, you often write about the same products. While I don't like ads (long live TiVo!), I love seeing the similarities - and differences - that you two write about. If I'm going to be encouraged to purchase an item, I'd rather that the advice came from people that I like, enjoy and respect. Have at it, darlin'. :)

  9. Come on now, there will always be a few Alexes out there - to be ignored for their sour grapes and lack of ability to do what you do.

    Write what you want and make money off it whenyou can. Your readers are not so unsophisticated or unaware as those Alex types.

  10. Alex is an asshole. I mean you write original stuff. Alex goes hunting around to insult strangers at their blogs. Think about that. Think about the type of person who does that. There you go. Kudos on the traffic. You deserve it.

  11. I hate these censorship whines, and you keep seeing them. I am a firm believer in freedom of opinion and the expression thereof, but that's never the point with complainants like this - and these quasi-trolls just don't get it.

    Anyone with a blog who is publishing new, original material regularly is putting a lot of time, effort, inspiration and sheer hearts-blood into that project. It's theirs! They have an absolute right not to publish any comment, from any contributor, for any reason whatsoever. This is not censorship. There's nothing stopping such complainants from setting up their own blog and expressing their opinions there.

    For some reason, I'm reminded of this classic Monty Python number. Have a good one! ;-)

  12. "I haven't a clue how the linking company picked my post to place at the bottom of articles ranging from USA Today to Slate."

    Probably because it was funny and well-written.

  13. It's a moot point for me as any of the products I might write about were most likely discontinued at least 20 years ago. Since I've long been among those who have encouraged you to support yourself by your writing I say 'Hurrah' that you're able to do so in any sense whatsoever. There are more and better opportunities ahead for you who writes so well.

  14. Alex has the problem, not you. That post about you teaching Sophia to shave was the best blog promotion I have read.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with making money when an opportunity arises to combine what you do so well (telling stories that show life precious) with the acquisition of funds.

    I hope you know by now that we loudmouth commentators would call you out if we saw you slipping away from your authentic voice. Not because we would be missish about commerce, but because we don't want you to lose the voice you have crafted so well these many years. I know that reading for the past five or so years, that I have seen your voice emerge. It's beautiful and good, even when you write about ugly and hard things. Keep it, and good on you if you also make $$!

  15. Hey, I loved that post. It was funny and entertaining. If my bud can make a few bucks writing about a product she believes in, I'll be here. As a side, I'm glad you wrote it. When I moved here to the top of the world and found no one sells my regular razor of choice, guess what I bought? Yup.

  16. Screw the haters!

    When they put the food on your table or pay tuition for your kids or actully know what your blog is about, then, and only then do they have a leg to stand on. I say keep up what you've been doing. You are why we all keep coming back, time and time again.

    Ultimately, the goal IS to be paid for doing what you love and do so well.

    Love you lots Lisa!

  17. Whatever. So you have a sponsored post? It's your blog, you can do what you want with it. It's not a crime to want to earn a little money; it's not unethical. Is an artist of any kind no longer an artist when they get paid for their work? You don't like an ad? Then don't read it!

    People come to your blog because you do write well and you're funny and insightful. Your sponsored post was funny too - Lisa. It was your writing, unlike so many others who insert sponsored posts into their blogs with an alterna-voice, or non-voice. You didn't compromise who you are in your sponsored post, and it got exposure and the ad paid off. Hooray I say!

  18. Your blog, your prerogative, sister. Alex is evidently an asshat who just HAD to make himself seen and heard on your blog, which means he was trying to advertise his viewpoint to the masses. I think he's getting paid for that right now. Ka-ching, Alex!

  19. Hey, I don't see a single thing wrong with seizing the opportunities that come one's way. Hey, you and I both routinely defy Samuel Johnson's dictum-- "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money" -- but sometimes I stop and think the old coot might have been right.

    A similar situation just came up with a local acquaintance- a small town wedding photographer who took a very sweet picture of a friend and his dog in Lake Superior as a favor to the friend. The photo went viral-- you may well have seen it by now-- and eventually she responded to demand and began selling copies. Sure enough, some other acquaintances started carping and whispering "sell-out." I could not disagree more.

    Also, nice covered bridge picture. I love me them Town lattice trusses.


And then you say....

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