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Monthly Archives: November 2013

I’ve been thinking about what my bloggers motto might be and I’ve come up with this:

Read what you need to learn; Write what you need to say.

These words reflects how I like to operate as a blog reader and writer. I will read voraciously whatever it is that speaks to me. It might be something informative and educational, or nourishing and encouraging. What it will be depends on where I am in my life, and what’s grabbing my attention. Educational programs and reading lists are all very well, but the end of the day the reading that means the most to me is what I go and seek out for myself because its a hot topic for me.

When it comes to writing, I operate in a similar way, but in reverse. I talk about what’s going on in me, or around me. That’s the writing that seems to have the most ‘juice’. Writing thats planned ahead feels forced compared to the paragraphs that fly off the top of my head when I am working through an idea that has grabbed my attention.

Although what I am reading and what I am writing are often related, the isn’t a one to one connection. My reading and thinking will tend to be ahead of my writing, as ideas germinate and slowly take shape behind the scenes. I read a lot of blogs but don’t expect those bloggers to read mine unless I am writing something thats useful to them. I usually check out the blogs of my readers, but don’t always subscribe because there’s only so much I can keep track of. It seems more important to stay true to my own direction so that I am learning what I need to learn, and writing what I need to write.

This brings me to the internet writing phenomenon which is Bubblews. If you haven’t heard of it, Bubblews is an online writing site where the contributors of articles are paid for what they write, based on their popularity. I signed on yesterday to take a look, wrote a trial post, and got about connecting with other writers. Deja vu. I feel like I am staring down a rabbit hole…Am I about to be engulfed in something all encompassing that I didn’t see coming?

From what I have seen so far, Bubblews operates like a writers community, where contributors have two roles, firstly to write articles, and secondly to read, like and comment on other people’s articles. Advertisers pay for what seems to be user-specific  online advertising which is where the money comes from.

The best strategy for earning on Bubblews, apart from brilliant writing, is to build up a network of reciprocal relationships where you read and comment on each others work, thereby earning each other money. It reminds me of similar networks which exist within Etsy, where sellers are encouraged to connect with and market to each other. In both cases, a lot of time can be spend searching out people for the purpose of connecting with a view to selling or earning, rather than for the inherent value of their offerings.

So here I am with $1.16 of potential earnings racked up in Bubblews after only 3 hours of participation. If I can get that up to $25 I can actually redeem it for real cash. Its tempting. But it worries me. The kind of writing I feel tempted to produce to get my earnings up is fluff. Although there is some good writing on the site, a lot of the content it is not of a quality that I would seek out if it weren’t for the possibility of earning money myself. With regard to my daily reading time, I would get much better value from selected blogs or eBooks or goodness gracious, actual physical books. When it comes to writing time, I think the quality would be better if I stayed true to my own inner compass which seems to be better tuned here on my own blog.

The aspect of the Bubblews model that I would struggle with the most is the expectation within the community that connections are reciprocal. There seems to be an obligation to put in a lot of time to read and comment on the work of people you have connected with. While I enjoy a degree of mutual appreciation in the blogging community, its voluntary, and I think it needs to be that way. There seems to be a loss of freedom and spontaneity if you feel that you have to read my blog, so that I will read your blog, so that we both get paid.

My inner compass can be a real nuisance, but what its telling me is that the kind of writer I want to be is one that people read because I have something of value to say to them. I want readers to come and go freely; because thats what I want for myself. If my readers feed compelled to return to the blog, I’d like it to be because they can’t wait to see what I am going to say next. I don’t know if I can operate that way within a “paid per like” writing community.

If a writer’s work really hits the mark, then readers will choose to come. At the end of the day, its the quality and relevance of the writing that matters. The question is whether its possible to earn money from writing, while staying true to my own voice.

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I am beginning to understand what happened to young Alice in Wonderland. She poked her nose in where it didn’t belong, and before she knew it she had left the known world and was falling, falling, falling into a whole other territory. Curiosity is a fine thing, but Alice needed some work on her balance and her boundaries. Perhaps you are thinking I am a kill joy. Afterall, if Alice had kept her balance there would have been no story for us to enjoy. Of course you are right. The fall into the unknown is the device to begin her journey. But I can’t help thinking that Alice may have had other things she wanted to do that day. Other adventures of her own choosing.

Recently I accepted an invitation to provide some training, on a casual basis, at the place where I used to work. “Where’s the harm?” I thought. I was missing being part of a team and the feeling of being an expert. Having allowed my creative self plenty of room for expression my analytical mind was ready for a wander around the magical land of databases. And of course I was glad of some casual work to provide income to support me while I build up my own business.

It was a good feeling to be welcomed and to have my knowledge appreciated. I had returned to familiar territory, which was also unfamiliar after 18 months absence. I began to remember what I used to know and sharing what I thought would be helpful. When I looked up from the training task I found myself at the edge of a large project in its early stages. Like Alice, I got curious and poked my nose in. “That looks interesting”, says I. Once I had stuck my head in a small distance, I could see a whole lot of potential directions. Questions to be Asked. Issues to be Investigated. Gaps to be Filled. So I started asking, and investigating and hurling my body into gaps. “What a good consultant I am,” thinks I.

And then, like Alice, I realised I had lost my balance and I was falling. Instead of being a visiting trainer sharing knowledge of the old system, I was plummeting headlong into the new and offering to do things that weren’t in the original brief. I saw the magnitude of the project in front of everyone, and toppled into it, until it surrounded me like an enveloping fog. Soon I was thinking about work 24/7 and feeling like I didn’t have time or energy for my own projects. My part time hours seemed too short in the face of everything that could be done. I had started to feel responsible and my whole being was organising itself to get to work sorting out this project that seemed to have no boundaries to it.  Wait a minute. Isn’t this why I left?

Learning Experiences. Gotta love ’em.

Fortunately for me, I have access to equipment that Alice lacked. I have insight into what’s happening, and a jet pack with an eject cord.  I can pull that cord and fly back to where I need to be – a visiting trainer sharing knowledge to help other people with their major project. I don’t have to fall to the end of the tunnel and spend a whole lot of time wandering around another universe.

This is my first time in this consultant role, where I am brought in for a specific task. Its a whole different mindset than being a permanent employee. Its about being focussed on the agreed project, and delivering well on that piece of work. Being a consultant means staying on the edge and maintaining perspective, even if it means missing out on some of the things that are going on around you. The training aspect of my role suffered because I got caught up in the bright lights of a big shiny project that others were working on. I need to reboot and regroup and get back onto the path that I originally agreed to, the adventure of my own choosing.