Sunday, 23 May 2010

Marxist Blogging and Money

Since completing my PhD I'm in that unenviable position actors like to call "between jobs". And because of the avalanche of cuts the higher education sector is facing over the next few years it's possible I could be in this position for a while. Therefore your humble scribe has started exploring other revenue streams. Becoming an Ebay entrepreneur is one possibility, and trying to land paid writing gigs is another. But there is a third option.

On Wednesday I was at a North Staffs "business breakfast" organised by Carolyn Powell of
Bizfizz, which aims to develop networks between local small business people. I got chatting to Matthew from Pin Media, a website building/design start up. We talked about making money from the net and he told me I could make a modest regular income on the numbers AVPS has been getting of late (around 600 uniques a day).

Sounds fine and dandy. But of course, as everyone knows, the left has a set of uncodified but commonly understood ethics when it comes to money. Working for wages is fine. Unearned income from shares or property is less so. And, of course, if you're some sort of workers' representative in unions, council chambers, or parliament, the ideal position is to take no more than the average wage of a skilled worker. We are all mindful of the corrupting role money can play in the workers' movement and so we try and dampen down its corrosive effects as much as possible. And there's also the small matter of fighting the class struggle because we believe in socialism, not because we want to line our pockets.

This ethic is extended to blogging. No one minds comrades
hawking their own books because it's a way of getting their politics across. Ditto for clothing. But what about making money from blogging itself? Just as you'd be hard pressed to find many Tory blogs that eschew the delights of Google Adsense and other advertising, the reverse is true of the left. In fact, I can only think of one left blogger who does.

So what to do? Are adverts an absolute and definite no-no for left blogs? Do adverts compromise the integrity of the blogger? Do you find adverts intrusive and distracting? Would you be less likely to regularly read a blog that features them? Are voluntary donations the only way left blogs can ethically raise cash? Are some types of adverts and advertising platforms okay and others beyond the pale? Should lefties deposit their commercial hang ups in the dustbin of history and use their advertising revenue against the capitalist beast?

What do readers think? Have comrades got experience of making money from blogging?

31 comments:

Chris Brooke said...

Are adverts an absolute and definite no-no for left blogs?

No.

Do adverts compromise the integrity of the blogger?

No.

Do you find adverts intrusive and distracting?

Not generally on blogs, no.

Would you be less likely to regularly read a blog that features them?

No.

Are voluntary donations the only way left blogs can ethically raise cash?

No, see above.

Are some types of adverts and advertising platforms okay and others beyond the pale?

I'd imagine so, but I don't know enough about the details.

Should lefties deposit their commercial hang ups in the dustbin of history and use their advertising revenue against the capitalist beast?

Yes.

I'd have thought that the main danger of going down the commercial route is if for some reason the advertising tail starts to wag the blogging dog - if the subjects you write about and the way you write about them change for the worse.

Can't see that happening in your case, though.

Joey said...

Honestly, as long as the advertisements are non-intrusive (which is the case for Google Ads) and you figure out a nice way to make them blend in with your website, why not?

Miles said...

Do it.

There isn't even a line to cross until an advertiser tries to influence content.

Simon said...

I'm of the opinion this is a kind of evolutionary holdover from the days when accepting advertising could be seen as compromising editorial independence.

That's just not really the case when it comes to blog advertising. Go for it.

You have, howvever, just given me an entrepenturial idea of my own. Has anyone ever though of an ad-sysem for left-friendly, ethical advsertising ?

Stephen Booth said...

Unless you change your content as a result of advertisers or to increase advertising revenue then I think it's fine.

This is where a Google Ads model is good. The advertisers probably would not know that their advert is appearing on your site, my site or someone else's site so would have no reason (or probably opportunity) to apply any pressure to you. Also, what ever content you put up there's bound (due to he volume and variety of advertisers) to be someone hawking something relevant.

I see asking for donations as far worse. Those most likely to donate are those least able to do so. Contrary to what the Tory press would have us believe there is a strong correlation between work ethic and feeling that one must contribute to that which one consumes and reduced means. This lead to the observation that the fund raising of groups like Oxfam, Comic Relief and Band/Live aid was mostly the poor of the rich countries giving to the rich of the poor countries (who then immediately spent it with the rich of the rich countries).

Stephen

tim f said...

Depends whether you can control what adverts appear on your blog. I'm sure you wouldn't want to be making money by promoting Life, etc.

Budapestkick said...

Meh. Go ahead. I can't really imagine google ads appearing and suddenly you're writing glowing appreaciations of Thatcher.

SamG said...

It depends how you view advertising. Maybe you could write an article on how you see it and within that article justify having advertisements on your blog.

It does seem ironic for a socialist sociology blog to run adverts. The hegemony and counter hegemony side by side.

Brother S said...

As a co-blogger I demand a slice of any advertising revenue!

Phil said...

Cheers for the thoughts, comrades.

Stephen, the problem I have with AdSense is the degree of control bloggers have over them. For instance, I sometimes write about sex and sexuality issues: I wouldn't want a thoughtful piece on say ideology in porn to be followed by an ad for Gaping Grannies!

On donations, there are ways of doing it. The lads over at Stoke blog Pits 'n' Pots have a 'buy Pits 'n' Pots a pint' donation form on site. I have seen people on other blogs beg for cash from their readers, which is very unseemly to say the least.

Just out of interest, does anyone have any experience with advertising platforms on blogs?

Jim said...

Hi Comrade,

Whilst fully understanding the financial difficulty that the capitalist job market and cuts put you and many others in!

It's a real shame that you have to consider contamination of an otherwise excellent 'Socialist Blog' one of the best on the left!

I'm not convinced that you would make any real money out of this, unless visitors hit the sites that the adverts promote, and I think you will find you'll end up with peanuts whilst your site is disfigured promoting crap!

However keep up the good work and I really hope some luck comes your way!

Phil said...

Sam, you could always think of the clash as an example of the interpenetration of opposites, of digital dialectics ...

Brother S, would a slice of the dough improve your productivity? With 17 posts out of 726, that entitles you at present to 2.3% of the income ...

Brother S said...

2.3% is fine. I'll see my solicitor, Mr. Alcock of Alcock and Bollocks and draw up an agreement.

Chris H said...

The mind says go for it, we live and have to survive in a capitalist system. But the soul says no, not on a left blog, just doesn't seem right.

I watched Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story on C4 last night. The ads spoilt it, drove me nuts.

My thoughts anyways.

Jim Jepps said...

I think the principle is fine - generally it is the way it is done that causes problems (if any).

There are some ad systems that let you ok ads before they go up, and I think you should only go with ads that you're comfortable with otherwise you might find an embarrassing BA advert, or breast augmentation ad popping up.

Ads can be obtrusive if you want them to be (because presumably they get more clicks if people notice they are there) but I'd hope you'd tuck them away nicely so they didn't interupt the enjoyment of the blogging.

Anyway, go for it, I'd be interested if you were able to make more than pocket money from it... good luck!

Sean Ambler said...

you won't make much from 600 visits a day - my sites total over 20,000 a day and it's still not enough to live on

james said...

I don't care how obtrusive the ads would be, this blog is always worth reading. It would only be a problem if you were forced to self-censor.

BenSix said...

This series might be useful (well, perhaps not but - heck - it's funny). Me, I oppose ads --- then again, I'm an envious bugger.

Pete Shield said...

Comrade,
There are a number of other options to Goggle Ads, though I have them on my site and get a few hundred squid a year off them.
Ethical Ads run by the lads from Ethical Junction are one, Green advertizing (yes spelt with a Z) is a another ad network. Most ethical shopping sites have affiliate programmes and you can pick the ads and produce. Creating an Amazon bookshop for lefty books and adding that to the site is also an idea.

I use most of these on http://www. naturalchoices.co.uk don't make a living out of it but it all helps.

SamG said...

"Green advertizing "

Don't get me fucking started!

Stephen Booth said...

I hadn't thought of the Amazon bookstore approach. Good idea!

Stephen

Lobby Ludd said...

If you're short of money, why not try and sell your body. After all, you have recently sold your soul :)

(Sorry, too hot to get my coat.)

Anonymous said...

Phil, I don't think you do separate blogs for non-left stuff.

Your recent blog on Eurovision is an example of a non-left topic that should be posted on a separate blog that can have ads.

You can then, of course, use the ad money to finance the left blogging activity.

catharine said...

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said...

"You can then, of course, use the ad money to finance the left blogging activity."

Surely the reformist cyber-equivalent of all those bank jobs Stalin pulled.

Pete Shield said...

Sam G...
Yeah I know

Pete

Darren said...

"you won't make much from 600 visits a day - my sites total over 20,000 a day and it's still not enough to live on"

Sean,

what are your sites?

Phil,

be warned that you'll probably get some very strange adverts on your blog.

Every other day Harry's Place carries adverts for muslim dating agencies. Just what their readership have always wanted. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think carrying a few 'acceptable' ads would not harm the overall feel of the blog, This leaves the question of editorial control. Also, I think most academics underestimate the extent to which their own work underpins the present capitalist system.

PURLPOWER said...

I agree with most of the above comments. If you can find a not-too-intrusive way of incorporating ads onto your blog and make a bit of money from it then good luck to you. The only ads that drive me away from sites are those irritating ones that pop-up when you accidentally roll your mouse over them!

Phil said...

Cheers for all the comments. I know I'm talking about a pitiful amount of cash - I remember speaking to a sex blogger on Twitter who said she got £500 for six months on the basis of around 1,500 page views (not uniques) a day. But a few quid is better than no quid.

It is a last resort though. I just wanted to gauge people's opinions in case I go down that road.

Mick Hall said...

Phil

I presume if you have a spell out of work you will be on the dole, these bastards are getting tighter and as Andy found out, they surf the web, there are implication here which I am sure you can work out for yourself.

Just a thought from a paranoid old git.