It’s a curious thing to be labelled a blogger. In the absence of any other occupation, I guess it’s what I do – and I don’t even do it that often. I’m not blogging as if my life depended on it. Good thing I’m not actually expecting to make any money off it. The fact that very few people make a living from blogging has not put off a slew of writers I’ve encountered through my very part-time ‘job’.
A few months ago I joined a group on LinkedIn called the Freelance Writers’ Connection. I was hoping I would be inspired to look for writing work (hasn’t happened), learn more about where I could find freelance work (kind of happened) and meet people who might prove to be good contacts (still to be determined).
Instead, what I have indisputably gained by joining this group is a hell of a lot of email, mostly about blogs. About two months ago, a member of the group posted a thread asking people to share their blogs. He got a landslide of responses. As a member, I am emailed every single time someone replies to this thread. To date, there have been over 300 replies and counting. Normally, when you post something on one of these groups, you are lucky to get 10 people paying attention.
It has made me wonder what motivates people to spend so much time writing on a crazy number of subjects, especially when it doesn’t pay. Here’s a sample of blog themes, courtesy of my freelance writing group.
A blog about:
- a disabled foodie in Toronto
- a mediocre mother
- a good mother
- a blind traveler
- gay teens
- fly fishing
- insecure writers
- Zen and tennis
- twists of fate
- the Holy Land
- the Universe (an ambitious theme if you ask me)
- rants, ravings and ruminations
I’ll be totally honest with you, I kind of started this blog to see if it would help me find a job. So far, the answer to that is no. I’m still thinking I could show it to someone one day, but possibly not to a future employer, who might be scared by a number of things I’ve revealed so far. The more I write, the more I think I need to keep it from anyone who would potentially hire me. So, I think I am now writing as a form of therapy or to stave off boredom.
If I could start all over and choose a profession today, blogging would not be high up on my list. I think I’d go for funeral director. An odd choice? Not according to Parade, which published its annual ‘What People Earn’ issue. Marshall Kelly, age 62, is a funeral director from Arkansas. He rakes in just over $100,000 a year and chose his field because ‘the work would be steady’. Wise man.
Another job with good potential is voice actor. Dan Castellaneta, 54, from Los Angeles, earns $9.7m as a voice actor. In 1990 he was earning $660,000 a year. The recession hasn’t affected his earnings. A nice job if you could get it. (Dan is the voice of Homer Simpson, by the way.)
Then there’s Alberto Reyes, 46, a casino host from Las Vegas. It sounds like he keeps high-stakes gamblers from killing themselves. ‘We go to the Grand Canyon, we drive race cars. It’s not just about living like a superstar; I also keep them out of harm’s way.’ He earns $118,000 doing this.
On the other side of the spectrum is a martial arts instructor from Michigan who earns nothing after being forced to sell her business; a self-employed tour guide who only makes about $7000 a year in South Carolina; and a guitar shop owner from Missouri who also makes nothing from his business. Owning your own business appears to be a scary thing.
The Parade article would not be complete without the inclusion of one blogger. She used to make $60,000 a year as a media consultant in Atlanta in 2001. She now earns nothing, but seems happy blogging about her life as a mother in Los Angeles. I’m glad she finds this satisfying, but I can’t help thinking that I am in the wrong line of work if I want to own a house one day and move out of my mother’s.
For any bloggers who have made it to the bottom of this post, why do you blog? Or what would you want to do for a living if you could start all over again? Feel free to dream big.