Recently, I've been getting into some discussions about monetizing blogs and specifically about Kindle Publishing. Kindle Publishing allows a blogger to publish their blog on Kindle. It costs 99 cents a month to subscribe to a blog on Kindle, and Amazon returns 30% of that to the blogger.
In addition, the Center for Independent Media has a strong presence on Kindle, including the Colorado Independent, the Iowa Independent, the Minnesota Independent, the Michigan Messenger, the New Mexico Independent, and the Washington Independent.
So, are you on Kindle? If so, let me know where.
As much as public relations officers try to get bloggers to say something positive about the products and services they are promoting, I suspect many of them as themselves how to get bloggers to shut up, especially about negative aspects of the products and services they promote.
It makes me think of the old quip in politics: How do you get a reporters attention? Tell him it is off the record. The more strenuously you try to get a reporter or blogger not to talk about something, the more likely they are to dig a little deeper and talk even more.
I recently ran into this on a project I am working on where the project manager asked me not to send emails about the project, especially ways in which it is being mismanaged. Given the nature of the project, I won’t be writing about it here, but I am actively removing myself from that project.
Here in the Connecticut media, we have recently had an interesting development. George Gombossy, who used to work for the Hartford Courant recently left in a dispute over an article he was writing concerning one of the larger advertisers at the Hartford Courant. It hasn’t shut up Mr. Gombossy. He now writes a blog, CT Watchdog which tells its potential advertisers, “Advertise in this space and you will be treated just as fairly as non-advertisers.”
In addition, Mr. Gombossy spoke about what has gone on with him and the Hartford Courant on Connecticut Public Radio’s show, “Where we live”. I managed to catch portions of the show as I drove from one client to another and it raised many important questions. Of course it explored the issues of what role should an advertiser have over the news that is covered in a paper they advertise on, but it explored many other important questions. What responsibility should a news outlet have for running advertisements that look like they are news articles?
Mr. Gombossy spoke about the different standards that apply to newspapers and blogs, as well as to comments placed on newspaper sites and blogs. He suggested that when people write for a newspaper, they investigate in deeper detail than bloggers typically investigate their stories. There are a few good reasons for this. Reporters are paid to investigate. They have more time and more resources. As such, they also have much more responsibility. For bloggers that are writing on their own free time, most often with no compensation and little resources, they cannot always investigate as deeply as they would like or as paid reporters can.
This brings us to the bigger question of the future of news. Bloggers typically give away their content for free. They may try to get some revenue from advertising or from jobs that come up as a result of their blogging, but it is hard to sustain. The LA Times is reporting that the News Corporation is pushing to create an online news consortium “that would charge for news distributed online and on portable devices -- and potentially stem the rising tide of red ink.”
Unfortunately, unless they can get everyone to play along, people will just change to free news sources, and bloggers, especially those on the left, are unlikely to play along with the News Corporation.
So, where will bloggers as well as hyperlocal journalists, citizen journalists and other independent writers find the resources to support their habit? It is a topic that is often discussed on various mailing lists. One popular approach is various forms of online fundraising. Spot.us is providing a great model where people can contribute to specific investigative reports. I am sure other such efforts will emerge over time. In addition, as bloggers and journalists write on local issues, I expect that hyperlocal advertising, similar to what helped local newspapers so much in the years of yore will emerge with better revenue models for bloggers and journalists.
Whatever ends up being the mechanism the bloggers and journalists use to fund their activities in the future, it is unlikely that large advertisers will manage to convince writers to not write what they are passionate about. Instead, providing quality goods and services seems like a much better way of making sure that more positive stories and less negative stories are circulated, and that is good for everyone.
Last night, Kim and I went to see the movie Julie Julia. It is about cooking, and blogging, and this is my review of it. Well, not exactly. It is my chance to use someone's famous name to talk about myself in hopes that someday, I will get discovered for what I am passionate about, and maybe get a book deal, or maybe even a TV show or even have a movie made about me. But, that is what the movie is about as well, so I guess it all fits.
One sign of an effective book or movie is whether or not you could see yourself in the same situations as the main characters. The movie I saw most recently before Julie and Julia was the latest Star Trek movie. Yes, it touched on universal themes, rebellious youths learning to channel their energies to overcome some great evil. I could relate to that part of the movie and enjoyed the escapeism, but it was very different from my lifestyle sitting in a small rented house in Woodbridge, CT.
Julie, Julia, however, masterfully captures the hopes and dreams of so many bloggers, like myself, busy pecking away at their computer keyboards and hoping for some sort of recognition for their passions. It ties back to Victor Frankl's great book, Man's Search for Meaning. The desire to be recognized for our passion is as basic to our own stories as the hero myth of Joseph Campbell is to so many great stories in literature.
The movie explores how blogging relates to our marriages, our families, our work, how we see ourselves, and how we support these explorations, financially and through our circle of friends.
Julie is presented as a frustrated writer. All her friends are having wonderfully successful careers while she is working away at a miserable job in a cubicle. She's written half a novel and can never finish anything. Well, through the discipline of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I've written one and a half novels, although I never completed editing the first or getting it published. I had a horribly successful career on Wall Street, but now I spend more and more time on my writing and less and less time consulting to the financial services industry.
Julie decides to put a PayPal button on her blog. That was years ago, and I think I did that at one point as well. However, I never received the recognition Julie has and never really received any Paypal donations to speak of either.
Now, so many bloggers are scrambling to find other ways to monetize their blogs. I've written about this from time to time, and spent a bit of time yesterday talking with a person who is planning to launch a new scheme to help bloggers monetize their blogs. He wanted to know what really makes bloggers tick, so that he could be more effective in recruiting bloggers and setting up a system that would be more successful for himself and the bloggers he hopes to recruit. He is wise in reaching out to bloggers to get a sense at what makes them tick. If he really wants to get a sense, he should go see the movie Julie, Julia.
Another theme explored in the movie is narcissism. Bloggers often get a bum rap by people who don't get blogging. They are accused of being narcissitic. To a certain extent, this is true. Yet it may not be as bad as it seems. In elementary school, one of the important reading skills is learning how to relate a story back to ones personal life. This is a skill that many bloggers have mastered. See, I'm relating the movie back to my life. When you get older and start learning creative writing, you are told to write about your own experiences and things that you know and have experienced. This is done wonderfully in Julie Julia, and drives my writing as well.
The problem with narcissism is when it does not relate to the world around it and somehow share in the human condition. That is what differiates between the narcissist as self absorbed jerk and the narcissist as the great writer. I'm probably still too close to the narcissist as self absorbed jerk, which is the problem with so many bloggers. I believe we all need to strive to be more in touch with the people around us if we wish to be great writers. We also need to strive to be more in touch with the people around us for plenty of other reasons as well, and that drives much of my political activism.
In the end, Julie and Julia have both won the recognition they have sought. Meanwhile there are millions more bloggers out there, pouring their hearts and souls onto their keyboards in hopes that some day, they too, will be recognized for their passion. All it takes is a blog and a dream.
As I was doing my typical rounds visiting blogs, I stumbled across this post: FDA and Wilderness Family Naturals. It links to articles claiming the FDA Hits Small Family Food Ministry for $100K for HyperLinking to Health Research and urges its readers to
Help fight for our rights and freedoms in the US of America and join a 912 Project, Tea Party Group, or other group of your choice to protest the present government takeover of all our freedoms and property.
So, I thought I should investigate a little bit further. It turns out that in on November 9, 2005, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Kenneth H. and Annette C. Fisher, Owners of Wilderness Family Naturals, concerning labeling violations with regard to Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
That letter listed dozens of violations, not only on their website, but on the labels of their products, including claims, “Clinical studies have associated kefir with many beneficial effects including … anticancer properties” and “This is a salve with tremendous anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It can be used with wonderful success on athlete's foot, ringworm, and to prevent infections where the skin is broken. Besides containing Goldenseal root, this salve also has Tea Tree Oil and Grapefruit seed extract which are very good at fighting infection”.
Over three and a half years later, a consent decree was signed:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that Wilderness Family Naturals LLC of Silver Bay, Minn., and its owners have signed a consent decree that prohibits them from manufacturing and distributing any products with unapproved claims that the products cure, treat, mitigate or prevent diseases.
I have not been able to find why it took three and a half years to reach this agreement, or why the Fisher’s felt they had to spend approximately $100,000 in legal fees to get to the point where they agreed to not manufacture or distribute any products with unapproved claims that the produces cure, treat, mitigate or prevent diseases.
Yet all of this raises several questions. How far should the government go to make sure that misleading information is not presented that might cause people to buy products with false hopes? What is the best way for companies to make sure that they can market their products as honestly, fairly and effectively as possible?
Most of the blog posts about this that I’ve read so far misleading information by making claims that it was only about hyperlinking or that it was the FDA that was solely responsible for the $100,000 in expenses that the company owners racked up in legal bills. It is also worth noting that all of this happened while the FDA was under the control of a Republican President.
I do believe we need to protect our freedoms. Yet I believe that a bigger threat to our freedoms is the misinformation that is too often accepted as fact online, on talk radio and around the water cooler.
As I noted in previous blog post, I enjoy reading different opinions in various blogs that I find through traffic exchange networks. One blog that I particularly enjoy is A Disgruntled Republican. We have different views on many topics, but his views are often well thought out and interesting.
Today, he linked to an article which talks about how the current health care system is not a market.
As I did in my previous post, I want to share the comment that I made on his blog:
I must admit, coming from the other side of the aisle, I also think this is a very good article. The current health care system is a big problem. The question becomes, how do we best fix it.
This is where I question what seems to be an underlying assumption. It seems like Mr. Williams believes that market forces are always the best way to address a problem. I am not sure I believe that.
While competition is generally a good thing, and profits is generally a good way of determining the success of the competition, I believe that there are other considerations.
Our schools, libraries, and roads are generally public services provided by the government. The ability to send your child to a good school should not be limited to those who can most afford it. The ability to access good books should not be limited only to those who can most afford it. The ability to drive to the office, or to town hall should not be limited only to those who can most afford it. We, as a country, as well as individuals are better off if everyone has a fair chance to get a better education, drive on public roads to better jobs and get to town hall to work on forming a better government.
Likewise, I believe we, as a country, as well as individuals, are all better off when a certain amount of public health is available. If we can help the less fortunate avoid catching and spreading dangerous diseases, we all are safer.
So, how do we balance the need to promote the public good for everyone with advantages of competitive systems? I don't have a good answer, but some of it, I am sure, has to do with the need for checks and balances; the sort of checks and balances that have helped our country survive and thrive for so many years.
Unfortunately, we do not have such checks and balances on our medical system today. The medical industry is spending millions of dollars a day lobbying to make sure that we do not get a more competitive system, a system with more checks and balances; and there is no check or balance on their spending money from our premiums this way.
So, what can we, as Democrats and Republicans working together come up with for a better health care system? I would love to hear your thoughts and the thoughts of some of your other readers.
He has posted a good response from his viewpoint, and I believe that such discussions are of much more value than so much of the rhetoric that we currently see.