Content creation and monetisation: Is it as bad as people think?

What happens when your blog starts to grow?

There’s an oft-quoted saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I couldn’t disagree with this anymore, because the truth is: making money from your passions and hobbies is bloody hard work.

I love writing, I have for as long as I can remember. I have written short stories, poems, novels (both unfinished and finished) and the reality is that while it’s something I love to do and something that makes me happy, it doesn’t pay my bills.

There are of course thousands of authors of all kinds out there making more than a living from their work but for every author who has a book deal, a successful blog or the next great novel waiting for publication, there are 10 authors struggling to pay bills with the meagre income from their writing or working other jobs to pay bills and writing when time permits.

My point is…

You may have noticed a format change on the blog recently, and that’s because, as of this week my blog has qualified for WordAds.

WordAds is WordPress’s monetisation program for bloggers. Basically, if your blog reaches enough people and gets enough views you qualify to run ads on your site and get revenue for views and clicks.

Am I a sell-out?

I mean, yeah a little bit? If by sell out you mean “am I attempting to make money from writing this blog?”

But here’s the thing, like I said above, making money as an online content creator is bloody hard work. There’s no guarantee of a steady pay cheque unless you’re a very well established blogger/creator, and in order to be well established you have to pour hours of work into your content. Whether that time is spent actually creating the content, or whether it is promoting it, responding to emails from readers/viewers or just trying to come up with ideas when inspiration fails to appear from the heavens.

I see it time and time again in other mediums of content creation, most notably on Youtube. There are thousands of comments on popular videos complaining that the creator is a sell out or a corporate whore, for simply accepting a sponsorship deal, or collaborating with a company.

The thing is, people can’t simultaneously enjoy online content and then be offended/mad/annoyed that the creator is using it to make money. That’s like going to a restaurant and being mad that you have to pay for the food you ate. While online content may not be tangible in the traditional sense, it is something that is consumed. The good thing about online content is that it is there forever, you can go back and enjoy it again and again until your heart’s content. All for the “price” of watching an ad, or seeing an ad in the side banner, or at “worst” listening to the content creator talk about a product for a few minutes.

Now, I am in a uniquely lucky position right now, in that I don’t have a full time job and I’m surviving quite comfortably without either a job or an ad revenue, however the purpose of monetising this blog is two fold: firstly, so that when I do make some revenue I can re-invest it in the blog to make it better for readers, and secondly so that eventually I may actually make real money off it.

Basically…

When a content creator monetises their content, it’s not because they’re greedy or want to “rip you off” somehow, it’s because we have to put food on the table and pay the bills.

While I am lucky enough to be working on something I love, it is work. And I do hope that you enjoy it! Because I love making it for you, and this step towards monetisation means that I will hopefully be able to do it for many, many years to come.

All of that is to say, if you’re using an ad blocker, please consider “whitelisting” my blog, so that I may progress my career as a writer/blogger and write the things you like to read.

If you don’t want to whitelist the blog, I understand. Continue to enjoy my blog!

 

 

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Dear Future Self

A letter to my future self, reminding me of the important things in life.

Dear Future Self,

 

Sometimes you’re gonna fail.

Okay you might fail a lot. Like, an uncanny amount. But that’s OKAY. It really really is.

One of your most recent “failures” is not keeping up with this blog. The blog you felt such passion for when you first started. The one you planned an entire 3 months worth of posts and wrote less than a handful of them within the first month. The blog you were sure was going to be your introduction into writing for actual real money.

Right now, I see this is a failure. Maybe I still will in the future, but I hope I learn to be a little more gentle with myself.

Instead of writing this blog, I’ve been doing lots of other things. I stayed with my grandmother for 3 weeks, we had a great time, and I don’t regret it for a second.

I’ve also started really reading again, I’m currently reading through the Ken Follett Century Trilogy and it’s fantastic. I still have the 3rd book left to read and I’m loving every second I spend reading.

I’ve watched a number of new movies and loved almost all of them. I’ve gone out to lunch with friends.

So maybe not writing in my blog isn’t a failure. Maybe there’s a reason it was on the back burner. Maybe I needed some time with the people I love and care about.

I often harp on about self care and I thought I had my self care routine figured out but I think I’ve realised that what I thought was self care was in fact quite the opposite. I used to think that my self care involved being introverted and doing things on my own, and for some people, that may well be the case, but I don’t think it is for me. I have noticed that I am much happier if I spend time with people, out of the house, doing something.

Yeah, I’m going to fail hundreds more times in my life, some small failures and some big. Some of them will seem insurmountable or hopeless, but they won’t be. I just need to take a step back and follow what my heart says.

With love,

Your past self.

 

Please stay tuned for more blog posts. I promise they won’t be so self centred!

 

 

The monkey on my back: Procrastination

Hello, my name is Amy and I procrastinate…

My name is Amy and I am a world class procrastinator. No, really, I will do anything to get out of what I am supposed to be doing: one of the best examples of this happened today when I cleaned my bedroom with an unrivalled enthusiasm instead of writing a blog post like I had promised myself I would.

I don’t know if I’ve always been a procrastinator. As a young kid around primary school age, I would always do my homework as soon as I got it, not because I liked homework but because I understood that if I got it out of the way first I could go on to do something fun. As I grew older, I became the polar opposite: I would do anything but the thing that needed doing, I would even do things I didn’t particularly enjoy doing to get out of doing the other thing, and now at almost 27 years old I am a veteran procrastinator.

In addition to my fastidious approach to procrastination I have anxiety and a serious fear of failure, all of which adds up to a very contradictory, constantly anxious, and stressed individual.

I have tried many approaches over the years to combat this hilarious combination of traits but so far I have not succeeded in kicking the habit. Procrastination remains one of my dearest and most familiar friends, even if he isn’t particularly friendly, helpful or good at all really.

Let’s use this blog as an example shall we? I spent all of April planning the launch in May, I had plans to have 30 posts ready to be scheduled and posted on their allotted days, but by the time April 30th rolled around, I had maybe 15 posts done, 5 of which I hated and haven’t even bothered posting. I had been so enthusiastic about this blog that I researched blogging platforms, social media strategies, and how to build the perfect Facebook page, and in the end all of that was procrastination. Granted, in this case it was useful procrastination and all very necessary work to make a blog happen but if I had had more posts written that I had loved and could be proud of, I probably wouldn’t have a moment of “Oh fuck, this is all too much” causing me to re-evaluate whether I can feasibly do 5 posts a week.

Even as I write that paragraph I began procrastinating by suddenly “remembering” I needed to update my twitter and find more blogs to follow on twitter. At least this time I can tell you why I procrastinated: in talking about how I procrastinate, I have to admit that I have faults and frankly no one wants to do that, but it’s important to admit that I am a procrastinator.

In examining my behaviour I actually think it’s highly likely I have ADD, because in between writing the past two paragraphs, I have checked both twitter and Facebook twice and changed the song on iTunes about 5 times. That in isolation could just be procrastination but it’s pretty much how I live my life, flitting from one thing to another. Nevertheless, I should hold myself accountable for the fact I have let my procrastination slide into the total inability to achieve set goals in a timely manner.

When it comes to setting goals, I can be very ambitious and I start off strong, doing all of the things I need to do in order to achieve and sometimes even surpass them, but slowly I find myself realising that I can’t possibly maintain the momentum I have set for myself and therefore I will inevitably fail, so instead of re-evaluating my goals, I do something else instead and literally think to myself “I’ll do that later,” I have done this so often that I don’t even realise I am doing it anymore. My standard operating procedure is to write a deadline down in my bullet journal, look at it everyday and think “I should really do that” and then not do it until the night before the deadline. That sums up the entirety of my university life too, for all but the first 2 weeks of freshman year.

I can’t help but feel I should be keeping a tally of how many times I have checked twitter, Facebook and my phone while I’m writing this, because it is getting a little ridiculous.

I have always been a master of setting goals, I have just never been particularly skilled at achieving those goals. As I said before, it could be that I over-estimate my abilities or the amount of work required to achieve a goal and therefore am setting myself up to fail before I even begin. Goals should be SMART:

  • S- Specific
  • M- Measurable
  • A- Achievable
  • R- Realistic
  • T- Time based/Trackable

And quite often, in hindsight I can look at goals I have set and laugh at how entirely unmanageable they are and how they were never going to be something I found myself achieving.

So, dear readers, all of this is to say: My name is Amy and I am a procrastinator, but I will not let it stop me from succeeding and I will do something about it… tomorrow.

No, seriously, starting tomorrow I am going to have a daily schedule, and I am going to blog about it and hold myself accountable to the schedule, myself and you. You can all leave comments if it looks like I’m slacking off.

Let’s all band together and fight procrastination.

When Things Don’t Go To Plan: On Realising Your Limits and Boundaries…

An update on one month of blogging

I’ve sat here for the past 45 minutes, trying to start this post. I’ve retitled it 3 times and probably will do so again before I post it. But what it boils down to is this: 5 posts a week is unsustainable for me right now.

May has been a month of experimenting with this blog, seeing what works and what doesn’t, what is popular and what isn’t and I have concluded that 5 posts a week does not work for me.

I have neither the motivation nor the energy to sustain such an upload schedule. I certainly have the time to do it as I am currently unemployed but it has boiled down to the fact that my sleep schedule is permanently whacked out, I’m not happy with the content I’m putting on this blog and I’m dealing with mental health issues (It’s not major or anything to be worried about, I just know I need to make self care a priority) nevertheless I feel that I have come to a point, 28 days into this blog that has made me realise that I went too hard too soon and need to focus on putting out content that I actually like and can be proud of, rather than just putting up a rushed half assed blog in order to maintain a schedule.

In light of this realisation and admitting to myself that I need to focus on good content, June will be yet another experimental month. I haven’t decided which posts to keep and which to omit. I am leaning towards keeping: Mental Health Monday, Thinking Thursdays and Feminism Friday, with the occasional disability advocacy post thrown in when I feel compelled to do so. However, this also may not work, I may find myself switching and changing things up constantly until I am happy with the direction the blog is going.

In the end, while this blog is for me to share my passion and if I’m lucky maybe educate and inspire people, it should also be about what makes me happy and proud of what I am writing.

I hope you’ll stay around to see what I come up with over the next month and watch the blog evolve!

while I’m figuring things out, please check out some of my other posts and let me know what you think I should keep and what you think I should axe!

The Discovery: A Review

A review of the new Netflix movie about the Afterlife…

TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE, DEATH

Today’s What I’m Reading Wednesday is actually more of a What I’m Watching Wednesday, because I watched a movie on Netflix this week that has really stuck with me.

The Discovery is a Netflix original, starring Jason Segel, Robert Redford and Rooney Mara, it follows Will and Isla, two individuals with pasts that they can’t seem to escape from. Will’s father (played by Redford) made the groundbreaking discovery that there is an afterlife, leading to a drastic increase in the number of suicides worldwide. Isla is a young woman who meets Will by chance and subsequently moves into the compound run by Will’s father.

Without spoiling the entire plot, suffice to say strange happenings ensued, and everything was not as it seemed.

The entire premise of this movie is dangerous, it allows the viewer to imagine a world where science proves the existence of an afterlife and suicide is an everyday occurrence.

In one of the opening scenes, Will is speaking with his brother who mentions that a mutual friend had committed suicide and Will asks his brother whether he attended the funeral, the brother basically says something to the effect of “if I went to everyone’s funeral, I’d have no time for anything else.” This is obviously done in order to demonstrate that “the Discovery” as it is termed has changed the world for everyone, not just those seeking an answer to the question of “what is the Afterlife?” But it raises more serious questions about the ethical ramifications of knowing that there is an afterlife and publishing these findings on a global scale.

Will and Isla discover that things are not exactly as they seem, and both find themselves compelled to discover what is truly behind the Discovery that has so changed the course of human history and scientific knowledge of the Afterlife. This compulsion to find the truth leads them to fall in love with each other in a rather schmaltzy overplayed romantic trope wherein two people who view themselves as “others” or “outsiders” find comfort in each other and that comfort turns to romance (as modern cinema is so quick to point out, men and women can’t just be friends).

Without spoiling the entire film, suffice to say that the romance is cheesy, the sci-fi/horror elements fall short of being scary or intimidating.

The only saving grace of this movie is the fact that while there is a lot of suicide discussion, it definitely does not glorify the act of suicide and instead at various points of the movie, it addresses what the people left behind feel.

The romance is cheesy, the sci-fi is poorly thought out and the acting is more like the cast has been held at gunpoint and are bored with the entire thing simultaneously, which is impressive when you think about it.

Having said that, the appearance of the cast being held at gun point may actually have been a style choice because of the cult leader like status that Robert Redford’s character has created. That atmosphere of oppression and entrapment could have worked well had the cast played it slightly differently.

All in all The Discovery is an average movie that has tried to fit too many genres in one movie, and failed to deliver on any of them. This movie gets a rating of 2.5 out of 5 from me.

Surviving Solo in an Ableist Society

Living with a disability is hard enough, so how does living alone change things?

In 2015, I moved out of home for the first time, I was 25, and had just gotten my first paid, big girl job. I was a late bloomer in that regard for sure. I was on the verge of finishing up my last semester at uni and had applied for the job very much not thinking I would get it. It was the position I wrote about in my last blog and while it was pretty much a complete nightmare, I learned a lot about myself and the challenges of living alone and being disabled.

I moved to a very small town with a population of just under 3,000 people, about 5 hours from all my friends and family, which is a massive thing when the only other time I had lived away from home was for first year of uni and I came home during vacation, and I was only an hour from home anyway.

I started the job in the middle of the school year, so I had to rush to find housing in 2 weeks, and let me tell you, finding housing in a small town like that was bloody hard. I was very lucky to be given the tip that someone was renting privately, and that I should go and check the house out while I was also looking at the rental properties available through the estate agent. The house also needed to be relatively accessible, a few stairs was okay but not a two storey split level, it needed a bathtub instead of just a shower, and the kitchen needed to be relatively easy for me to use in terms of access to the stove top and height of benches. I can walk, but I use crutches, so when I’m at the kitchen bench or near the stove, I need to be able to lean against something to support myself while I cook. Luckily this private rental fit the bill, the landlords were a fantastically sweet married couple, and within 2 weeks, I was moving in.

Now, within that 2 weeks, I had to write list after list of things I thought I might need: bath board to get in and out of the bath, hand rail on the bathroom wall (installed by the landlord), and a trolley (like this, but not exactly because I’m not made of money) with which to move things from room to room. That last thing I would never have thought of without the input of my mother, and it was a godsend. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to carry cups of tea or my dinner to the table and a whole host of other things that people without disabilities take for granted. While living with my parents they would carry my dinner to the table for me, and if I wanted a cup of tea while they weren’t home I would use a travel mug, but I rarely bothered because more often than not the travel mug was dirty, missing the lid or broken. However since I was going to be living alone for 6 months, the idea of 6 months without a cup of tea or coffee was grim.

It’s the small things that catch you off guard like not being able to call someone up and ask them to bring you a cappuccino and hang out. That last one isn’t really a problem, it’s just something I definitely missed.

Transport was another big one; as I previously mentioned I had moved to a tiny town of 3,000 people and there was one cab for the entire town. Luckily the driver was a wonderful man who was more than happy to accommodate driving me to and from work every weekday, and take me shopping on a Saturday if I needed it, the cost of transport to and from work was $12 per day, which is an absolute bargain. Without that wonderfully helpful taxi driver, I would have found it nigh on impossible to get to work.

People with disabilities often find themselves dependent on others for basic things such as transport, shopping, and housework. This can be made harder by the fact that gaining employment as a person with a disability is much harder than for those who don’t have disabilities, that’s the unfortunate reality we live in. Disabled people are more likely to be unemployed and isolated from society. It can be a real up hill battle to make inroads into a community if challenges as basic as transport cannot be accommodated.

One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that when I told a colleague about having to pay for the taxi each day she offered to organise a roster of people from work to drive me to and from each day, at first I resisted this but finally I relented. I resisted because I wanted to be seen as an equal at work, I didn’t want to be known as the woman who needed favours from coworkers every day. At any rate it didn’t matter because the woman never followed through on the offer.

That story brings me to another point, the lip service that is paid to those with disabilities, the countless empty offers of assistance that are rarely followed up with action, the compliments about “how you’re doing so well at everything” as though getting up and going to work every day was worthy of praise and admiration. This mentality really gets under my skin. The concept of being admired or viewed as inspirational *shudders* just because I live alone and have a job is so frustrating. It feels insincere, condescending and frankly, ridiculous.

I have lived with a disability for almost 27 years, but when I sit back and think of all the barriers that may be in my way to do a simple activity like meet my friends for lunch, it’s easy to get frustrated. Transport as I’ve already said, but things like the fact if it’s raining I probably won’t go out because all the pavements in my town are slippery and lethal as hell when wet. Luckily I have 2 friends who are strong enough to take me by an arm each and help me walk without falling over, but that’s frankly embarrassing. They don’t mind helping and often offer but I’m fiercely independent when I think something should be easy. This post isn’t about a pity party, but fuck it, having a disability is hard and even though I try to be fiercely independent and do things my own way, and never accept help if it is something I can do, I won’t lie and say that everything is the same as it would be if I wasn’t physically disabled.

Living alone as a person with a disability was hard and I’m damn proud to have done it, and I am sure I will do it again one day, hopefully for much longer than 6 months!

 

Rural Mental Health In Australia: The Shameful Reality

Content warning: mental health, suicide, depression

Mental Health has become a very important topic of late, for me and for others. With shows like 13 Reasons Why causing an uproar, an increase in diagnoses of mental health conditions in younger people and a much wider knowledge of what mental illness is and why the stigma around it is outdated and dangerous. This is good progress, a march toward equality for people with mental illnesses who often suffer discrimination at the hands of those who don’t understand the reality of living with mental illness, but society has a long way to go, especially in rural isolated towns in Australia.

I grew up in a very small rural town up until I turned 12, and as a kid, mental illness was either not talked about or I was sheltered from it due to my age, either way, I was woefully unprepared for my teenage years and the depression that would ensue. By that point my family had moved to a larger town with more mental health services and I was at a larger school with a counsellor, which was lucky because as it turns out, the year I turned 16, everything went to absolute hell for me and I was in dire need of help. I can’t help but wonder, if I had still lived in that tiny, isolated rural town of my younger years whether I would have gotten the help I so badly needed as a teenager? It’s hard to know, that small town was where I grew up throughout the 1990’s and whether it was because it was the 1990’s and mental health was still very much stigmatised and not spoken about or whether it was because it was such a small town with a frightening lack of services, but I have my doubts that I would have gotten the help I needed.

It would be easy to blame that small town for being close minded or backward thinking but really the people there were caring and considerate and would do anything for someone who needed help, but the education about mental health was poor, the services non existent and the feeling of shame at having a mental illness was sky high.

I saw this for myself when I worked in another small town not far from my childhood home town in 2015, it was my first “adult” job and frankly it was awful. I worked in a high school as a “Student Support Officer” and in my first week there I dealt with a suicidal 14 year old who was treated as an attention seeker and as a waste of time to help. By law, we had to notify her parents, take her to the hospital, where we waited over 3 hours for her to be assessed by a psychiatric nurse via video link, and the end result was “no action to be taken”. I went home and called my parents and said “what have I done?! Coming here was a mistake” because I felt so helpless, here was this young girl who clearly felt disenfranchised by the community she lived in, crying out for help and being ignored by an overstretched, underfunded mental health service because she wasn’t “acutely affected”. To add insult to injury, when I called her parents again the next day to check in, this young girl’s mother said to me “next time, just call me and I’ll take her home and have a talk with her about this bullshit”. That to me, summed up my next 5 and a half months in that town and in that job. This pervasive culture of “we don’t talk about our problems, we deal with them at home” and dealing with them at home was also a case of “let’s not talk about it right now”.

I was appalled, disappointed and most of all I was furious. In the 12 months prior to my starting at that job, a young girl of 16 had taken her own life after being bullied at the school I worked at, a young man had taken his life after cutbacks at his job, and countless farmers had received mental health assessments as a result of depression stemming from a crippling drought, debt and a declining economy, all in one very small town.

The problem here is that those farmers never spoke to anyone else about their struggles and only ever reached out for help when they reached breaking point, and by that point they already had a plan in place for how they would take their own life but by some miracle they had reached out and stopped themselves from making a god awful mistake.

This town had a population of about 3,000 and to have 2 suicides in 12 months, and countless others receiving mental health assessments is unfathomable in terms of mental health statistics. This was a town that was struggling under the weight of a mental health crisis they were not equipped to combat.

During my time in that job, I struggled, I was having my own mental health issues which culminated in me seeing a mental health nurse during one of his trips from a larger centre. He was very helpful, understanding and kind. We discussed mental health both on a personal note for me as well as on a professional note as a social worker to a mental health nurse and the conclusion we drew was that this town was isolating, enclosed in its own reality and struggling to combat a crisis that was occurring at a national level as well.

This entire experience left me with a feeling that I couldn’t shake: mental health carries such a stigma, especially in small isolated communities, that it makes it almost impossible for those who need it to seek help. The stigma is so strong that mental health issues are still spoken about in hushed tones even by those who profess to be mental health professionals. I had one nurse ask me how I could possibly be a social worker and help others if I was struggling with my own mental health, and that mentality needs to end, because people will die before they get help when even the professionals are judging those in need.

Mental health in Australia, particularly in rural communities, needs to improve and it needs to do so before more people lose their lives because of lack of funds, lack of services and frankly staff who are under qualified for the task at hand.

If this post has raised mental health concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or your nearest Mental Health hotline.