We're in the last few days of this incarnation of the blog -- the fifth, and I would say probably the least successful (in rank order, I'd say the first year's theme was still the best, followed by the Books I've Kept, Questions, Terms of Art, and then this one). The blog takes August off (mostly), and I already know what next year's theme will be.
I always start the new blog year with a new layout, which gives me a chance to make other changes as well. If you'd like me to link to your blog, send me an email and ask; I make no promises, but I'll consider it. Guest bloggers are also welcome, but I limit the guest blogging to people I actually know.
Which brings me to the subject of today's post. I got a very nice email from a complete stranger the other day, asking whether I'd agree to let her guest-blog in order to promote her education-related service. It's a legitimate service and the request was perfectly polite, but I refused.
"The blog is not a commercial site in any way," I wrote. That's true, and I want it to continue to be true. I've never taken advertising, and don't plan to. I do invite friends and family members to guest blog when they have books out or other projects to promote, but those posts are never direct advertisements, and I try to limit even my own promotional stuff (Gaslight, the Mystery Bookstore, various clients, etc.).
This does, however, remind me that the blog is basically a big chunk of work I give away -- on top of a lot of other work I give away, on top of the fact that I've already had two clients this year push back on my rates, which I know to be well below (in some cases, shockingly below) market standards. I even had a good friend, earlier this year, suggest that a pittance I'd been paid for work in December, January and February also covered extra work I was doing, just to be helpful, in June and July.
No one can take advantage of you without your consent. Ann Landers said it, and it's true. I've built my current lifestyle around a determination to do work because I want to do it, not because I have to do it, with money being among the least important factors in whether and how I work.
But this is not sustainable over the long term, except for those lucky few who are independently wealthy, or are partnered with people willing to support them. I'm not, and too much of my life is currently subsidized by the kindness of friends and the tolerance of creditors. It's going to have to change. Exactly how remains to be seen. I plan to spend August trying to figure it out.
This excellent blog post discusses the bigger issue of creative people giving work away. I'm also planning to read this book next month. Maybe it'll give me some ideas.