I'm a little disturbed that I haven't posted here since last Tuesday because I could have sworn that I had. I hate it when I start losing time, it usually means that I'm overdoing things a little and falling prey to the brain fog that's common in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
So, another Tuesday, another look at the concept of mess. I'm considering it from a slightly different angle this week.
DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND
I had an interesting experience last week: someone contacted me offering to 'moneterize'* my blog with an advertising link. I politely declined and then got a slightly cheeky email back saying, amongst other things, that 'it's just a link'.
But it isn't just a link.
While I'm flattered to be asked, adding advertising to my site is not something I want to do. One of the reasons my site looks good is because it isn't covered with too much visual information. This is deliberate choice on my part. I loathe the way places like MySpace look, I find them almost nauseating in their visual clutter and one of the first things I said to my web designer was, "I want my site to be clean." My designer did a fantastic job making a sleek, beautiful and functional space for me and I do my part by not messing it up!
My site is an area in my life - one of the few - where mess doesn't randomly proliferate because I have to make a conscious decision to make a mess here; I can't just randomly wander through, put something down and wander off again. Instead, I resist the temptation to put lots of stuff up on my sidebars. I think long and hard about every single item that goes up there and on occasion I've decided not to put up things that might benefit me because I feel that the resulting visual clutter would outweigh the benefits.
Why would I compromise that purity by putting someone else's advertising on here?
I don't need advertising on this site, it's not expensive to run and I consider it part and parcel of the ongoing costs of being an artist. Paying for my hosting once a year is no less important to my art than buying art materials, getting business cards printed or buying art books and magazines for research.
I make no money. In the 5 years since I graduated, I haven't had to pay taxes once because even when I had a part time job, I've never made enough to exceed the personal tax allowance. I survive through the good will of my partner who financially supports me. So you'd think that I'd jump at the chance to get a bit of extra cash.
But there's no such thing as a free lunch. Having advertising on this site would be messy and I feel that it would compromise my art. I'm not saying that it's evil to advertise. Every artist must make the decision about whether to accept advertising for themselves. For some artists it might be the right choice. For me, it's not.
I was trying to pin down exactly why it isn't right for me when I read this spot-on blog post by Seth Godin last night and had an lightbulb moment. He writes:
Here's the essential truth:
This is the first mass marketing medium ever that isn't supported by ads.
If a newspaper, a radio station or a TV station doesn't please advertisers, it disappears. It exists to make you (the marketer) happy.
That's the reason the medium (and its rules) exist. To please the advertisers.
But the Net is different.
It wasn't invented by business people, and it doesn't exist to help your company make money.
That's it exactly! My blog does not exist to make YOU money. Heck, it doesn't even exist to make ME money, although it may well have that effect in the long run. Certainly part of the reason it exists is to increase my profile in the art world and hopefully to garner me real world art opportunities but mostly it exists simply because I like to write, share photos and talk to other interesting artists.
Not everything in the world is for sale and I value having this one clean, controlled space in a mostly messy life far, far more than I'd value a few extra quid in my bank account.
* Incidentally, can we please take the word 'moneterize' out back and have it shot!