Kottke goes pro…

Not a lot to say about this, even though I’m fascinated by the whole enterprise – Jason Kottke has quit his job and is taking the weblogging gig to a new professional level. He’s not going to take advertising, instead proposing a kind of micro-patronage system with donations from the willing public who read his stuff. I’ve donated my $30 – have you?

One bit of his post really really resonates with me. It goes a bit like this:

And yet, I almost quit last spring. The site was getting out of hand and wasn’t fun anymore. It was taking me away from my professional responsibilities, my social life, and my relationship with my girlfriend. There was no room in my life for it anymore. As you can imagine, thinking of quitting what had been the best thing in my life bummed me right the hell out.

After thinking about it for a few weeks, I had a bit of an epiphany. The real problem was the tension between my web design career and my self-publishing efforts; that friction was unbalancing everything else. One of them had to go, and so I decided to switch careers and pursue the editing/writing of this site as a full-time job.

Now I don’t think I could ever go that far – much as I love my site, I don’t think I’d find enough satisfaction in maintaining it to quit working for. But I know that I’ve found the last year or so really annoying, that I feel like I’ve let this site slip a lot in quality and content and that I could say the same thing for my other major project: Barbelith. How to get that balance right… Difficult questions…

7 replies on “Kottke goes pro…”

Hi Tom
I’m curious about jason’s move as an experiment, but i don’t think what he’s proposing is a viable model for most bloggers. maybe when the rest of us hit 20 on technorati then we could consider it, but if too many bloggers try to go full-time, ads-free, based on donations, then i expect the system would soon break down.
By the way, when will Barbelith’s registration policy be firmed up? I want to join!
[ps – I think comment previews markup is busted – at least in safari…]

It is so inspiring when someone puts down something mundane and banal in their life and scoops up what has really been intriguing them. Kudos to Kottke. (Also, the micropatronage idea is great. But as Kevin says, overdoing it across the net will make it diminishingly effective marginally…)

What if all Jason’s micropatrons asked him for donations to their own sites?
How would you feel if he was only prepared to stump up $25 to read
(I’ve paid up, incidentally, and am just interested in the debate…)

I think it’s absolutely clear that it’s not going to be a plausible business model for a lot of webloggers to take. Might work for a small portion though, and I don’t have a problem with that – presumably these are the webloggers who people are interested in reading like they would be a magazine or a newspaper. If paying a small amount makes that weblog more interesting and sustainable, then I can’t see why people would find that troubling.
In fact I wouldn’t want this to happen to webloggers as a whole – I don’t think of weblogging as something that is naturally a professional publishing form, although there clearly is room for people to use if for that kind of thing too. Weblogs are representations of people online – they’re what we use to expres our opinions and interact with other people in our interest or friend communities. Think of it by analogy – there are people who get paid for speaking in public because enough people want to hear what they have to say. But clearly it would be a weird and terrible world if no one spoke outside their homes unless they got money for it. Same applies here…
With regards to Jason’s relationship with his micropatrons – well that’s up to him and them. But no one seriously believes that just because you like someone else’s work that they’re obliged somehow to like yours, right? These relationships are assymetrical – when I buy soup I pay for it with money that I get from working around media delivery and the internet. If I gave them money for soup and then expected them to give me money for soup that I’d made in return, then that would be a bit like the situation you’re proposing. And if they weren’t prepared to pay 69p for my soup, would I be offended? Difficult question…

I know how you feel about keeping the balance between work and hobby right. With the new job I’ve had since may last year, there were times when I felt all my intellectual creatifity was soaked up by work and nothing was left for my own blogs.

Comments are closed.