Midlife crises happen to us all. For some they’re as brief and singular as a Dr. Pepper belch while for others they have the endurance of a porn star after ingesting a cupcake covered in Viagra sprinkles and as varied as the breeds at the Westminster dog show. As you might have surmised, or sadly for some of you, know all too well, mine tend to favour the latter more than the former. Add to this the fleeting attention spans that come part and parcel with our digital age, and you should be not the least bit surprised to learn that my blogging adventure is already experiencing an existential crisis.
I have just now completed a fourth full month as a blogger and in a nod to society’s penchant for celebrating meaningless milestones I am writing a review post; a state of the blog address, if you will. The world is infatuated with quartiles; none more fanatically so than the financial industry. It’s an unhealthy infatuation, the kind that earns stalkers police visits, restraining orders, and even prison terms. How’s that for a charming but ultimately clumsy attempt to associate prison terms with the financial industry in hopes of making some noble statement? Dividing the year into quarters has become the de facto modus operandi of the democratic world.
Oo! Brazen overuse of Latin to give author’s commentary a false sense of gravitas. Oo oo! Unapologetic use of Latin in the justification of the initial use of Latin to firmly emphasize author’s elitist cojones. Oo oo oo! Random interjection of Spanish within justification, a defiant yet witty homage to its Latin roots. Oo oo oo oo! French! Slow. Clap. And, bow.
At four months on, my blog has already aged beyond the first quartile and so I must opt for something a little different. Never one to conform but too timid to openly rebel I hereby bestow upon you the knowledge of the tertile. A tertile, or tercile if you prefer pointless and forced synonyms, is the term for either of the two points that split anything into three equal parts. This blog post, then, is the first tertile report for A Crock of Schmidt.
As an aside, and a frightful foray into how my mind works and a testament to its propensity for procrastination, you’ll also note that tertile is a near homonym of turtle. Turtle has no pointless synonym which strikes me a regretful omission in the English language. Tertile and tercile, however, establish a valid precedent for the adoption of turcle into the Anglo lexicon in my opinion. So much so, in fact, that I made the effort of doing a Google search on turcle and was delighted to find as the very first result a link to a Youtube video entitled “Turcle showing its rear”. It was a 30 second clip of a turtle. Behold. The internet has validated my assertion. So it is written. So it shall be.
Does Blogging Make You Money?
I’d like to begin my report by answering the most commonly asked question about my blog. And by most commonly, I mean three times. Three may not seem like much but that’s nearly 100% of my readership. This is a question that has captured a nation. I feel no shame in admitting it’s a question that captured my attention. That erstwhile question on the tongues of my fandom is, of course, “Do you actually make money by blogging?”
The simple answer is, “No.”
The factual answer is, “I haven’t tried.”
The honest answer is, “While you can make money blogging, there is very little chance that I ever will. Certainly not in any increment that might be mistaken with being an income. The petty cash hoard at your local thrift store could derive greater sums from compounding interest than the earning potential of my blog.”
I’ve been blogging for 4 months. I’ve made a total of 47 Pulitzer worthy posts on my blog; not terribly prolific, but not too bad for a guy willing to look at turcle videos rather than write. I’ve also posted approximately 115 original, strikingly hilarious tweets on Twitter. But I am not yet rich. I am not yet famous. I am not yet rich and famous. In fact, including hosting fees for my website, I’m poorer than when I started my blog. Check that, my wife is poorer. I don’t actually have a job and hence generate no income from which to fund my blogging escapades. This is totally her problem. She really should keep me on a tighter leash. Then again, as far as misguided spending on the internet goes, this is probably a palpable relief for her.
The obvious follow up question, one renowned in toddler circles for its succinctness and power to fluster even the most hardened of parents, is, “Why?”
The simple answer is, “I’m a bad blogger.”
The factual answer is, “I’m an awful blogger.”
The honest answer is, “I’m an awfully bad blogger. I’m the Ziggy of blogging! No, not as in Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, I’m referring to the long-running, bland, unfunny comic strip. The one pictured on the worst birthday cards you received as a kid and usually came with the gift of dress socks. The one your great aunt Esther, the retired librarian, openly derides as lame while your Grandpa Milbert, the Presbyterian minister, nods in solemn agreement.
That’s my blog. I’m boring. I’m dull. I’m safe. I’m rated G. I’m beige. I’m oh shucks and goodness gracious. I’m Nora Roberts and The Berenstain Bears. I’m slippers and cardigans and loafers. I’m Ann Murray and Perry Como and Barry Manilow. I’m white bread and soda crackers and buttered noodles and cheddar cheese. I’m Leave It to Beaver and Matlock and The Cosby Show and The Friendly Giant. I’m Sunday, freakin’, morning!
Ignorance Was Bliss!
Which brings me back to midlife crises, a none-too-minor feat considering I was proposing turtle synonyms a few short paragraphs ago? I recently had the pleasure of meeting a local blogger and radio on-air personality (a modern term for DJ that would leave Dr. Johnny Fever crying in his coffee mug) who’s been doing this for a good number of years now, Buzz Bishop. Buzz is what I would categorize as a successful blogger. I’m not saying he’s making a living from blogging or is rich or famous but he does have a sizable following to his blogs (i.e. more than a handful of sympathetic family and friends) and he does make some money from his blogging. He’s also notably had his work go viral which is the Holy Grail of blogging; kind of like joining the mile-high club but for people with a proclivity for cellar-dwelling, online pursuits.
Over the course of one beer (literally) in four hours (literally) (oh, you thought bloggers were cool?) Buzz bequeathed to me a cornucopia of blogging wisdom. Nearly two decades of accumulated knowledge and war stories were laid out before me like an opulent Roman banquet. Okay, so it was all on a smart phone but it was a pretty snazzy phone. This meeting was my eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of blogging knowledge. I think it was a pear.
I left with a mind dizzied by all I’d taken in. Or maybe it was the one beer. Regardless, it was glorious. It was humbling. It was insightful. It was depressing. Buzz was also kind enough to invite me into a private Facebook group of Dad Bloggers. If four hours at a bar with Buzz was a Roman feast, this group is the Olympics of competitive food eating. There is just so much information and support and opinion offered in a group like this; some of it great, some of it awful; some of it wanted, some of it resented; some of it hilarious, some of it infuriating; some of it exciting, some of it boring; some of it overwhelming, some of it comforting. Most of it I had promised myself never to get involved with ever again back when I quit Facebook the first time.
All of this led me to the terrifying yet snicker-inducing conclusion that I’m the last person that should be a blogger!
And just like that my blog endeavour was thrust into a tailspin of doubt and collapsing confidence. It seemed that everything I should do to make my blog successful was essentially a point by point recitation of everything I despise about the internet. What’s worse, most of the personal rules I’d set for my blog were antithetical to success. Garnering views and clicks are the absolute objective and I had established eye poking and finger breaking as first priority.
Looking at it now, as I have for the last couple weeks, it seems rather simple-minded and naive. Remain anonymous, protect the identity of my children and wife, respect copyright laws, don’t swear, refrain from ranting, refuse to lampoon family/friends, be nice, don’t offend, and try to write funny and well. Okay, it sounds ridiculous now that I’ve written it out; slightly self-righteous and wholly ridiculous. I’m now surprised my mother even bothers to read what I write which is ironic since many of those rules were made specifically because I knew my mother would read my work.
Take away the cute kid pictures, the embarrassing videos, the inspirational quotes, the goofy jokes, the inane lists, the pop-culture references, the product endorsements, the contests, the sensationalized headlines, and the baiting issue stances all that’s left is a bunch of words. And who the hell reads anymore?
This isn’t meant as an indictment of those that choose to embrace some or all of those techniques. In some ways, I’m actually envious of their willingness to play the game and, for some, win it. Consider those writers in the Dad Blogger group. For most of them blogging is a passion. They have a raison d’être. It may be as simple as being popular and driving ad income or as noble as changing how the world views fathers. For some it’s a means to documenting a life while for others it’s just endless preening about their kids. Whatever drives them, I am lacking it. Perhaps this is what the Dummies books meant by having a niche; not so dumb after all.
So What’s The Point?
The seed I planted four months ago has blossomed into a giant corpse flower of uncertainty and confusion and bewilderment and utter lack of direction or even purpose. Hell, even writing this very post lamenting my situation has been an unholy hell of revisions and second-guessing. I can’t even determine what it is I want to say about not knowing what to say! Though I seem to be developing an uncanny ability to string together an endless stream of nouns, adjectives, or sometimes sentence fragments to overemphasize my point. Is this my superpower?
I’m still creatively lost, so where this blog goes in the second tertile is anyone’s guess. If I’m just writing for myself, the rally cry of the virtuous blogger, then why put it online? And if I am too sanctimonious to sell my soul for clicks and too cowardly to change the world then what’s the point of writing at all?
I did put Google Ads onto my website.
Maybe I’ll get some clicks and cash flow from the turcle constituency.