That bloggers don’t get paid enough is a common refrain, but having just spent nearly an entire week with blogging as my primary source of both work and income, I am putting my foot down in a three-part series.
This series is going to cover three common myths about blogging that contribute to the low-payment factor, to wit: that blogging is easier than writing other kinds of copy, that blogging takes less time than other kinds of copy, and that bloggers are a dime a dozen.
I do not market myself as a blogger. Largely, I write other kinds of copy, most of them much longer than your average blog post. Universally, I find other kinds of copy are also better-paying. This shouldn’t strike anyone as peculiar.
What will strike most of you as peculiar on a level that merits Dr. Seuss’ attention and (one can only hope) illustration, is that projects that require more time and more words are actually less taxing.
Let’s do basic math for a moment. I could write website content worth $1,500. Or I could write 30 blog posts at $50 apiece (which is, incidentally, a good rate. It makes the math easier). Ostensibly, since they command the same price, both the website content and the blog posts should require the same amount of brain energy.
When I blog (and this is no exaggeration), I find myself completely incapable of doing anything at all for the next few hours. Oh, I can watch TV, read a silly book, or eat something. But I cannot focus serious energy on another project until I’ve had quite a bit of time to recharge.
Before anyone says things like, “Wuss” and forces me to challenge him or her to a duel, I’d like to point out that science (for once in my life) is on my side.
Think of your brain as a very complicated computer. A laptop, say. Think of your brain as a laptop, if for no other reason than that it will be more convenient for me to execute the following analogy:
When you take your laptop on an airplane, you think you’re going to work on it. Your battery ostensibly has three hours of juice, which means you can work all the way from Seattle to Los Angeles if you factor in the time it takes airport personnel to decide that your laptop is not going to veer the plane off course.
Anyway. You have your laptop. You are going to use it. You have three hours of juice.
Your computer decides it’s out of juice an hour and a half into the flight. This could be because your computer engineering company has decided that flying should be as insufferable an experience as possible.
It could also be because before you started working on that Word document, you opened up iTunes. And you checked to make sure you had the right specs by opening up your email. And you watched a video for a little while.
Opening and closing all of those applications, as well as switching between them, made your computer use up more energy. It ran out of juice in half the time you thought it would.
Yes, that’s right. Half the time. Crazy, right? I should be able to have lots of apps open without losing that much power! It is one of my inalienable human rights to write and rock out, damn it!
This is why all airlines should have power outlets. And honey-roasted peanuts. Those dinky plain ones don’t cut it.
Now here’s how that applies to blogging:
When bloggers blog, they constantly open and close applications in their brain. Your brain can, technically, only focus on one thing at any given moment. One thing is easier to focus on than multiple things in rapid succession. What we call multi-tasking is actually your brain switching from one thing to another in rapid succession.
This is also why multi-tasking is so stressful.
Your brain considers each blog topic to be a separate item to focus on. If it wants to focus on a new topic, it has to shut down that first topic and open a new one. This requires energy. If it just had the one topic open, your brain could focus on that for hours. But when you switch focus from one thing to another, you make your brain work harder.
When you blog, your brain runs out of juice more quickly. Just like your laptop ran out of juice on that flight.
If I am, say, working on web copy, I can write the first draft of content for a whole website without my brain getting grumpy and tired. This is because my brain considers that website to be a single application.
It’s only one topic, and it doesn’t require my brain to shut down on one application and open up a whole new one.
Not so for blogging. Every post has to be unique. Each should all touch on some new aspect, some new topic, come at an old topic from a new angle. All that newness freaks the hell out of my brain.
Bloggers who blog all day perform some of the toughest multi-tasking this side of short-order cooks.
They might have to write three unique posts on one topic, then switch to a new topic in a completely different field, then go back to the old topic to finish off the run. They write about cars and meditation and butterflies and sex lives and orthopedic surgery, all in one day.
They have to research, read, look stuff up and tax their brain to come up with a new take on the research, all to create one post.
Back to my $1,500 worth of website copy and $1,500 worth of blog posts. Which one of those projects uses the most brain power?
The blogging. Every time. So why is blogging so undervalued?
Coming up in the series: Why Blogging Takes More Time than You Think It Does. Tune in next Wednesday.