For Love Nor Money

Dear friends,

I’d much rather just move on with a post about anything else and forget about this whole money issue. But to be very frank, it is a weight on my heart, I feel like I have a few things to say, and moving on isn’t working, I tried. I feel like as a ‘writer’ I am supposed to present a cohesive, consistent, confident self to you all. But isn’t that what I so fight against? The bullshit image? I am a real, live, fallen-from-grace person over here behind this screen. With many layers of confusion.

When I say I really debated about this money thing, it’s no joke. I batted it back and forth in my head for months. In the end, I’m not at all sure I made the right decision. Your comments were mixed, and who’s to say what those who kept quiet think? Of course I’m not supposed to care what you think, I’m supposed to bravely fly my flag regardless. But we all know that’s bullshit. If I didn’t care, I’d be writing this whole blog into a journal under my bed.

To lay myself bare here I will tell you that it makes me very sad and anxious to think that people might trust my words less now, trust me less. I can see how that would happen, in fact that is the exact thing that held me back so long. I have the same distrust of commercial blogs.

Let me get a quick defense out of the way. Someone mentioned blogging for money. I put probably 15 hours a week into this blog. I’m not sure how many readers there are here, but I’m going to guess something like 150. If one out of ten tipped me $2 I’d make a big fat $30. Not per week, period. Clearly, I would not be blogging for the money. I make almost that much cleaning under the couch. That’s why I was excited about the phrase ‘tip jar,’ because I feel like it correctly represents it. As in, not a wage, but extra for extra.

At which point a reasonable person might ask, ‘Why the hell bother?’ and that is a good question. I’ve been asking myself the very same. I know it was partly spurred by the fact that I’ve been writing a lot more lately, and I’ve been enjoying it. But I can’t sustain 2-3 posts/week. Our house is falling into oblivion and my daughter’s movie watching often tops the professed 1.5 hours. If I want to keep writing this much, I need to get a babysitter. Which will mean I will be paying to blog. How much should a person, already borrowing into their future (with My Man in school) pay to do the ‘hobby’ they love?

When I dig deep enough though, I think I was trying to justify to myself all that time taken away from my family. 15 hours a week when I should be doing other stuff. If I could just make a little bit of money, it would give my time validity, by my ingrained capitalist standards. Which is almost cruelly ironic, since I spent the first 12 years of my adulthood patently not giving a damn about making money. Now that we have kids, it seems like everything is sucked so tight. Everything comes down to money. If I want time to myself to indulge in something so unproductive as writing, I have to pay money for it…? How has this happened?

One commenter, a poet herself, said, ‘I do it for love. And so do you.’ Yes, we do it for love and the fact is that money and love mix about as well as oil and water.

Despite my frequent pessimism, I guess I do have some high hopes. Or at least, I want to. I want to believe we can rise above the money/love dichotomy. I want to think I can keep blogging for love, and every now and then someone will leave a few bucks on the table. I am quite confident I won’t be ruined. I am quite confident I will keep saying fuck and turning over dirty rocks, because I love to say fuck and I can’t walk 15 feet without tripping on a damned rock.

And anyway, have you ever made lotion? Oil and water baby. Just gotta do it right.

38 thoughts on “For Love Nor Money

  1. Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now but I don’t think I’ve commented before. Excuse me, that’s quite rude, I should have said hello. I started a blog myself but abandoned it when I realised how much time it would take to do properly. I appreciate your blog and enjoy your posts. I may tip one day but am currently selling my stuff to try to make ends meet. So, for now, here’s a THANK YOU instead.

  2. Dear Strynz,

    I did not respond because I did not know what I thought about it. Honestly, you have the right to ask for whatever you feel you need. What you need today is not what you may need tomorrow and nobody has the right to decide that for you. That’s the way I figured it. It was where you were at. And where I’m at was that I sorta felt that it would be insulting to tip you. You are worth more than a tip to me; actually worth more than can be valued in coin. So while coin might work for you (and I understand why) it would not feel right for me, as the giver, which must be factored into this mix.

    For it to feel good for both of us it must relate to both our needs. And since I struggle so damn much with the concept of money in my own world and cause I kinda hate it, giving money would actually be the most disrespectful thing I could do.

    So that’s that babe. It has nothing to do with thinking you sold out or were bullshit or that you compromised anything. I get the struggle and I still think you are honest, sincere and full of great heart. But my own partner once said that all my householding stuff is “corrupt” unless it pays it’s way. So value, money, paying my/our way. Yes, a sticky wicket. But paying bills is real and now that he’s gone, well, I’m looking for a job. Got no answer just felt I valued you more than a tip could convey.

    1. Beautifully said Harriet. The part about the giver’s needs being half the equation, especially. I can absolutely see that, I think that’s sort of what dixiebelle is feeling too. I can really see this from either end, which is why my first post was called The Root of All Evil, with a question mark! I can’t tell if it is, or isn’t, or is entirely beside the point.
      Then again, I payed cold hard cash for your book, and I still love you.

  3. I´m thinking of your tip jar as a babysitting fund. and that, my friend, is something i firmly believe in. so, when i get a paycheck next i´ll send you a check for the babysitting fund. to time-all-our-own, however we can get it.

  4. Although I’m not very active in any of them, I check over a dozen webcomics and almost three dozen blogs (thank the gods for RSS feeders) daily. The artists and authors behind all of these endeavors have provided me with entertainment, education, and thoughtfulness freely (not to mention company during some very lonely days), some of them for many years. I’ve, uh, only been reading at Apron Stringz for maybe four days, but I was glad to have found it, instantly recognizing its worth. What happened to my point- oh yeah, I wanted to mention that many of the aforementioned comics and blogs have tip jars (yup, some even call them that) and I have never once been offended by them or questioned the content’s authenticity or authorial motivations as a result of the button’s presence. These places I reference were all started out as people’s small hobbies and labors of love, just as I have myself done in the past but without the success and commitment that results in an epic battle between “this is a fun sometimes hobby” and “shit I need to address the issue of time and money in relation to this expanded ‘hobby’ thing that now lots of people use.” I recognize the struggle to balance art, perceived authenticity, anti-capitalist ideals, and the need for dollar bills in one’s wallet, and I, despite counting every penny I spend, have tried to drop into the tip jars of places from which I’ve derived enjoyment or enlightenment, or especially both. In Perfect Land, we’d all be free to follow our bliss and engage one another and our arts without worrying about the wallet, but this isn’t Perfect Land, and if sometimes we need to bring money into things that ideally money should have nothing to do with, well, that’s not really our fault as individuals so much as the way the system is set up to fuck us over.

    So, just saying for what it’s worth, I think the tip jar’s just fine.

  5. Ah, please don’t feel down CJ. You’ve been giving of yourself for 2 years, which is a long time. If you want to ask for money, people don’t have to give it. It’s optional. If you wrote a book, you wouldn’t expect to give it away for nothing, so in a way I guess it’s the same thing. It’s nice to feel validated and loved and rewarded beyond our homes, especially when we have very young children and we are giving of ourselves to them all day, often with no thank you. So I appreciate the buzz, the sense of connection, the sense of some other adults appreciating you and thinking what you have to say is relevant, or witty or insightful or whatever. When people leave nice comments that’s one way of getting that appreciation. I guess after a while though it must feel like a slightly unbalanced deal. You are writing writing writing and you want something back from your readers, a fair exchange of energy, effort, etc. Money is one form of energy, which is both impersonal but also extremely totally useful. I don’t blame you for doing it, and I will certainly put some pennies in your jar dear CJ if it makes you happy. Don’t fret dearest maiden. It’s all fine :-)

    1. lord please don’t tip me to make me “feel good!”
      keep reading and commenting just like before. that will make me feel good.

  6. As you know, I am in the same boat as you, newly Tip Jarred and all. Anyway I got this post over on my site and thought I’d share it. “Writing = content = value.” I appreciated the sentiment and thought it was relevant to you as well.

    “lisa said…
    “Do NOT apologize for asking to get a little something for your time. Artistes can live La Vie Boheme, the rest of the world needs to get back-to-school shoes for their kid. People that get huffy and think the sordid talk of money somehow means you aren’t sincere in your motivations since you’ve had the gall to remind them that writing=content=value probably also gripe about tipping breakfast servers. And they don’t have to read your product. If they excoriate you, don’t worry about it- it’s not like they sit across from you at the Thanksgiving table.
    “I watch 30Rock and want that show on the air but I don’t want the commercials. But how do they get paid? In my dream world, I just hand Tina Fey cash and get programming without Subway commercials.
    “It works for NPR.”

  7. Mainly because it’s bloggers who read blogs and at the end of the day we write for ourselves. Blogging is ultimately the most self-indulgent activity there is. I guess I see it like if you find yourself needing to justify the time you are spending blogging, maybe you should rethink your priorities. I’m sorry that’s so harsh, but I really love your style and want to speak freely.

    I guess I would ‘tip’ a blogger about as often as I would tip anyone else with a hobby, which is to say not very often. Maybe if you were playing a great tune in the street and you made me want to dance. Otherwise, I thought I was stopping by for the conversation, but now you’ve made me feel like I should pay you for it… I feel a bit dirty reading!!

    I think I prefer the ads or a subscription service, I understand that a buck is to be made and I appreciate that many have to take that opportunity. Good luck with it all, you’re a great gal and your blog is a good one. But, really, at the end of the day, we’ve all got one – I’ll tip you $2 if you’ll tip me $2? x

    1. Wow, do you have kids? If you have not come up against needing to justify self-indulgent activities, I’m not even sure what to say.
      I do love your comparison about tipping people for their hobbies though. Good one.

      1. I have three, CJ. I just meant that being self-indulgent is what blogging is all about to me and I DON’T think you need to justify it. Earning some coin is a different thing altogether.

        I may have come across as a bit harsh previously – the perils of a small comment box and tapping away at my iPhone on the train! I apologise. I’m new to your blog and I’m way out of line cementing kn this at all. I will be quiet now!!! x

      2. no worries. i was a little unsure because i don’t know you very well yet. but i certainly understand how a few words on a screen could be meant a million different ways. there’s no “tone” in the cyberworld. it’s dangerous.

      3. Oh I KNOW – I need a sarcasm font for sure. And a ‘warm but meaningful’ font would be good too.

        You know what, at the end of the day this is what I really think: it’s your blog, you do whatever your comfortable with!

        That’s what I really think. x

    2. Also, I have quite a LOT of readers who do not write their own blogs. And really I write even more for them, because they are the ones who most appreciate the voice.

    3. i just realized, although your hobby analogy seemed good to me at first, consider this: what if i just loved to knit socks. i couldn’t get enough knitting of socks. everyone in my household had twelve pairs already, so i started giving them away to strangers on the street. i loved to knit them, and loved to give them freely. but do you think it would be even remotely out of line to keep a can beside me saying “tips for yarn?”

      1. That’s the busking thing again, me thinks. And I would say “they are lovely socks, why don’t you open a shop?” just as I might think about the busker “he’s really good, I hope he’s in a band.” Or something. x

  8. CJ: I didn’t read the comments from the last blog post, but these all seem to be very positive. So take that to the bank. :) See, nobody thinks less of you. At least, not anyone that truly loves this blog. I too thought of doing a blog but for now, I’m not up to the time and energy challenge. I hope you get back at least a smidgen of the joy your reader’s get from reading your posts. I almost always get a smile on my face and often get a good laugh. Tip jar is a good thing and I like the name. Keep it. People are free to ignore or join in. Remember…no shame here. Perhaps you need a little sign on your puter that says: “Leave your shame outside the cyber world.”

    Have you ever thought of compiling all your posts into a book put together on blurb or some such site? You could put it together and offer it up for a reasonable amount. Hey, it worked for Erma Bombeck, why not CJ? (OK, so she didn’t use Blurb, etc. Whatever.)

    1. don’t know “blurb.” i’ll have to check it out. I did print out all my posts at the end of last year into a book with blog-to-book or some such thing. just for me. it cost me $30 (it was a huge book!) so not for making money on resale, but surely flattering to see my words in real live print!

  9. Maxabella – I don’t want CJ to think of her blogging as self-indulgent (though it may do good things for her in the moment that she’s writing)… because, when it comes down to it, I indulge in this blog too… and that makes us connected somehow… and makes each of us less alone. It’s not one girl out there blogging… it’s a gathering place for a community. Or… at least some people see it that way… even if you don’t.

    1. Jill, that’s exactly why I had the reaction I did, and the questions that I had, BECAUSE of the connection I feel, because I feel like blogging is being part of something worth more than money. I avoid most blogs that have advertising, as I am not in this for making money and have felt that blogs that involved money are not here for the connection/ like-mindedness like I am…

  10. Keep on doing what you’re doing…I’m sorry I don’t comment more; honestly, I can’t keep up with the more frequent posts, but I do delight in reading them!

    Adding a tip jar doesn’t make me want to run and flee, I see it as a necessity for those who want to take it to a higher level (writing more, paying a babysitter) as opposed to those of us who do it in our precious spare time (nap-time, after the kids are in bed).

    Loved your last weeks worth of posts – especially walking and being a one car family, and the one about getting kids so much stuff. I have to comment on that one! Another time. Gotta run to make dinner and awaken the Sleeping 3y/o beauty.

  11. I didn’t respond to the last post because I’m lazy, but I feel compelled now to add my voice of support! I totally think you deserve some compensation for the time you put into this blog, AT LEAST enough to cover a babysitter (and hosting fees if your traffic grows to demand it). I wouldn’t even judge you a bit if you had ads–perhaps running ads for Etsy shops would be more consistent with your sensibilities? Just because capitalism sucks doesn’t mean you haven’t got mouths to feed!

  12. I know several bloggers – some who tried the money route and others who just want to talk. You have some very wise words – If you are interested in the $ route, start thinking about a book. You have talent, a way with words,and something to say. I personally don’t think the tip jar is worth the bother, and nobody, especially me, wants to see you feeling put down when the jar refuses to fill up. Just a thought.

    1. i’d have to wait till the kids were both in school to write a book. that’s ages away from my perspective, when i want to be writing right now.
      i’m sure you’re right about the jar not being worth the bother (certainly not worth all this discussion!) but i’ve heard books don’t really make money either, and talk about a lot of work! harriet could weigh in on this one…

  13. Gosh, CJ.
    First of all, I love fuck-ups. If that’s even what this will turn out to have been. I’ll definitely trust you more, for knowing that you’re willing to be human, and similar to me. (Flattering myself, but I just meant in terms of fucking up. God, how I wish my sister-in-law didn’t know I blogged- the stories I could tell! And ranting I could do!)
    Anyway, money can make you smile, and I don’t think that has to be a bad thing. At it’s simplest, it really is just a way for me to give you one of those friend things- an hour or two of childcare, a cup of coffee, whatever. Despite the distance. (I tried blogging as a way to give something back, but it’s neither a skill nor a joy for me. Sad, huh?) I wish I could clean your house or something, oh, wait, I can! I can give you money, you can give it to someone who would be happy to clean your house for it, and we’re all better off. Where’s the harm in that? (Wait til I craft you something, and post it over- then you’ll have a laugh!)
    And hey, isn’t it supposed to be the desire for money, that’s the root of all evil? You’ve made it pretty clear that you’re not hankering after cash and power and whatever, but just this simple thing it’ll provide you- the opportunity to carry on with this (quite generous) hobby! I think the point of a hobby is that you are allowed to have some time to yourself. (Yes, even Mamas.) To do something you enjoy, with no direct benefit to anyone else. I just read- they’re good books, (and wonderful blogs!) but that truly contributes nothing. (Except keeping a happy Mummy in my family’s house- seriously important!) This “selfish” hobby of yours has improved more than a few of my worst days, in a really big way. Thanks again for that.
    I said roughly, ‘God, please don’t let money influence you, or change the way you blog,’ and it came across badly, I know. But really, it’s not about you being for sale, it’s just about me believing you’re that human, fallible, slightly-similar-to-me person, and I don’t think I know anyone that could avoid being affected, in some way. It’s just that it’s not really acceptable for me to say it. Whoops, sorry! So, I think I came across as one of the negative responders, and I didn’t mean to be at all. Just don’t leave me, that’s all I meant- fuck, I want to look under all those dirty rocks with you!
    ps I dont want you to knit me socks, but I would chip in for the yarn if I did.
    pps Not that I don’t want you to knit me socks, I’m sure you’d knit great socks and all…
    Smile, please! It’s so damn easy to get the tone wrong, eh?

  14. CJ I really do adore your writing. Are you sure you couldn’t pull off a book? Like a kind of extended version of a zine, with some of your artwork in it? I’d order a bunch of copies right now…. You are a very talented and thought provoking writer and the fact that I have come back several times to your blog just today to see what people have written etc…is proof that I am one of the can’t get up in the morning without Apronstringz !!! I promise to give you some cash just as soon as I figure out my paypal details ( I don’t use it a lot and I’m hopeless at remembering passwords for stuff!!!) I do think that blogging is good but you are in a league of your own and a book or magazine type thingy would be fantastic, and earn you possibly more than a tips jar? Maybe you could approach some of the big mags and see if they’d use some of your stuff? just a thought. My thinking on the money thing has evolved and you and everyone else on here have made me think and rethink.

  15. I have many many thoughts – they’re not cohesive yet, nor have I time right now to write them. I’ll be back – but I wanted to let you know that despite the confused response I’ve had, I definitely think you’re amazing for being brave enough to test the waters here, and your work on this blog is indulgent, yes (which is not bad), but also – brilliant, thought-provoking, and a support network, which sorta put it another league.

  16. I’m SO glad you broached this awkward touchy subject – thank you!! I don’t think any of the rest of us had the balls to do so. You are writing a blog on the internet and giving the world FREE information, and as you mentioned you are spending hours and hours donating your precious time to this wonderful blog – and your husband is in college. Your time and your talent are both precious, and you deserve some pay back imo. You’re not forcing a gun to people’s heads and making them donate, you’re not guilting people out for not tipping, (if that’s what they should decide.) I think you’re totally justified in setting up a tip jar, and I’m really glad you did it because it makes perfect sense in every way! Don’t let other people’s hang ups get in the way of doing what you feel necessary. I’ve been going back and forth on this issue for months now, months and months. I just can’t go there with the google ads, and I’d feel weird selling other people’s stuff on my blog. Like you I’m not in a cushy financial position, and we only have one parent working here. I’ve donated hours of my time to the urban homesteading movement, which is very much anti-commercial and conflicts with money making on many various levels. It’s tricky being in our position, let’s face it. I think you just have to go with your gut and not look back. Each person’s situation is unique, and what works for one won’t work for the other. I for one greatly appreciate your blog and your insights and information. I don’t think that adding a tip jar to your blog makes your blog commercial, but it gives folks a chance to show appreciation, and it enables you to continue doing what you do best. Thanks for your honesty and openness on all of this!!

  17. WOW. So much interesting stuff to consider here. Blogging itself gives back to the author, even if not a soul saw it (kind of journal-like). Also, it’s a cool place to store your info: recipes, goals, to-do lists, ideas, photos, sentiments, etc. Then, when you do get feedback, that can be an encouragement or let you see opposing views or provide more information or help clarify or even help provide material for the future book. Etc. etc.

    So far, nothing to monetize here. These things are useful to you and useful to your family too, some directly, and some just because “what keeps Mama happy, keeps everyone happy”.

    But then, sometimes things go a little further, and your bits and snippets become useful to others. A funny story saves someone from a gloomy day. Your egg-farming tips help a new flock owner. A recipe was made and impressed the new MIL. You put some research into a post that helped someone on their job. Some “Mama tips” helped another Mama hold onto her sanity. Some of your thrifty notes helped an unemployed person survive until they lined up a new job. A tutorial you put together encouraged someone to dive into a new hobby, hobby/business. These kinds of things can be so appreciated, and often the receiver wants to give something back. So, maybe a sweet note arrives in your comments, maybe a little something lands in the tip jar, maybe a little homemade doodad comes in the mail. It’s all good. Maybe you’ve helped someone on another continent that you’ll never hear from. It’s still all good.

    So, keep the jar, just keep it low-key. Maybe allow sponsors that you would brag about to your friends and family even if they weren’t your sponsor. But, no random ads – that stuff can get embarrassing.

    I’m kind of new here, but I’ve enjoyed the trip so far. On other blogs, I learned how to make homemade vinegar and homemade yogurt. And, I’m about ready to try homemade pure soap and some killer recipes. Those particular sites didn’t have jars, but you can’t help but want to give something back for the information and skills they’ve shared. These things save me money, so why not share the savings. Then, how do we value say comedy or entertainment. Often, it seems to be presented to us for free, but very little in life is really free. Even crackin’ up over chicken antics costs you chicken feed.

    I’ve just rambled on and on – possibly need to start my own writing outlet.

    Thank you for what you share.

  18. Have you considered published articles as a way to make money? Perhaps magazine or websites for parenting/ alternative parenting etc., would pay you to write? I’ve written for magazines/ newsletters etc. for the joy of it, but if you build a portfolio, I’m sure you could start making some money? Just a thought…

    1. i have definitely thought about it, but here’s the thing. i love this blog. i love writing here. if i spent my 15 hours per week writing for real money, i wouldn’t get to write here. i just don’t have time for both. maybe in another 4 years…

  19. I’m also a blogger who doesn’t want ads on my blog. I’m also uncomfortable putting up a tip jar. On the other hand, I know that I’ve answered a lot of people’s diverse questions and saved them time.

    Someone mentioned she feels like she’s dropping by for a conversation. In non-cyberland, if you did that, you’d talk and probably eat a snack. And you might bring over some fresh vegetables from your garden now and then, or you’d take the kids out with yours for a couple of hours. So far, pay-pal can’t process those things.

    The internet lets us chat with folks we wouldn’t normally chat with, but unless we’re willing to share an address so someone else can send back a pair of gloves she knitted or some other token of thanks, our best options now are pay-pal supported tip boxes or wish lists on Amazon etc. Or google ads.

    Maybe we can create a blogger exchange system where people can send something more personal than money that can then be forwarded to the specific blogger as a thank you for all the ideas, smiles, escape, and aesthetic pleasure the blogger has provided.

    In the meantime, if after reading a post here, you say, “Wow, I think I’ll try that” or “You just lifted my mood” consider that you can’t send her a hand made card of thanks or play with her kids while she gets a nap, but you can drop a few bucks into her tip box. While the money may not add up to a lot, it does say, “I value what you do.”

    On a more challenging note, it would be interesting to know how many people would keep reading blogs if they were charged 1 cent a minute or 10 cents a visit for reading the blog – all of which would go to the blogger. And how many bloggers would lose their readers and how many would keep blogging anyway?

  20. OMFG! REALLY??????

    – know I am very late on commenting- just found CJ & have been catching up through archives so haven’t yet read ahead for any clues on how this all played out…

    but for all you commenters who would PAY for a book if CJ wrote one- or buy socks from someone on the street IF she had a store- but take free socks & not “tip” for yarn- (both book & storefront SUPPORTING the “legitimate” capitalist-not renegade way of thinking)
    what is the difference?

    bottom line- time=money. =just*the*way*it*is
    do we want only people who can afford to share their ideas with us blog???
    I think not-

    if CJ wrote a book- the only way you could read her words is to PAY for them
    (& she would be edited beyond belief) well guess what- you’re reading her now- (LIVE & UNCENSORED!) so cough it up already!
    if CJ had to get a “real” job she wouldn’t have time to write- if you want to read what she has to write- cough it up already!

    seriously folks- you’d PAY if she sold out to the MAN- but not support her in her renegade ways?
    But it’s “disrespectful” or “insulting” to CJ if you TIP her? WTF?
    You’ll throw a couple bucks to the guy playing music in the street
    “if he makes you dance” but not tip CJ-
    what? CJ NEVER made you dance????

    Look at it this way- you buy a book- you read it- it’s over. THE END.
    a blog goes on- it’s one big interactive book with NEVER ending chapters-
    you can ask the author questions if you don’t understand
    you can engage in dialog over controversial content.

    I know several times after reading a good book – I look for the authors blog…
    usually the archives are great… but the content after the book- tends to be minimal- AND definitely more commercial-

    SO yeah dear readers- put out already!

    1. Sing it, Sista! If you had vegetable gardening as a hobby and sold the surplus at the farmer’s market, that would be SMART, right? Or if you were “crafty” and sold the extras on Etsy? What’s wrong with making a couple bucks on your hobby?!? I’m pretty sure that’s how many businesses get started!

      (I HAD to comment on your comment because I’m also working through the archives- oh, good, I’m not alone in being late!)

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