If you want to be rich and famous, you should definitely start a blog. It’s the only way to keep up with the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world.
Katekatharina.com is a case in point.
I had to purchase extra electronic storage to cope with all the fan mail I was getting. I rejected several offers to write for renowned publications on the principle that Katekatharina.com was a more reputable source than say, The New York Times.
After some time, it became impossible to walk the streets of Dublin without being accosted by an admirer of my prose. The effort of gazing at my feet modestly every time a particularly apt turn of phrase was repeated to me by a stranger became too great. I decided to move to Berlin, where I thought I could descend into relative obscurity and focus on my art.
But it was not to be. Here too, passengers on the underground tap me nervously on the shoulder and say “If you don’t mind me saying so, you look really like Kate Katharina from Katekatharina.com. Others are more aggressive, pushing through crowds to thrust a pen and a print-out of my latest post into my hands, crying “Bitte, bitte, ein Autogramm fuer mein krankes Kind.”
Yes, my route to fame and fortune has been paved with widgets and clusters of html.
Or possibly, it’s been a bit more like this:
I’ve written over 200 posts here. Sometimes I spend hours writing a serious piece contemplating the meaning of art, or describing a tiny dead mouse whose death still haunts me, while other times I chronicle my developing relationship with a 93 year-old woman or defend pigeons.
The effort has paid off. Last summer the embassy of a wealthy middle eastern country offered to pay me to write a piece outlining – among other facts – the wisdom of its ruler and the progress the country has made in the areas of human rights and gender equality. When I replied saying that I did not feel I could write an impartial piece given the requirements, they promptly reassured me that I could be “reasonable and objective,” as if I were simply displaying modesty.
They’d found my contact details through a referral to the blog from an article I’d written for The Journal. That particular article paid me handsomely in… exposure (?) and afforded me the pleasure of trawling through a host of comments, most of which misinterpreted my article to conclude I was a Paparazzi fiend.
A more recent success occurred when the Past Pupils Union of my secondary school read a post I had written reminiscing about audible peeing in the school bathroom. They posted it onto their page and my hits rocketed.
And then recently, someone working on behalf of the company X contacted me, offering me a modest sum in exchange for linking to their site.
I had a drink with my friend, another freelance journalist in Berlin.
“You’ll be compromising yourself,” she said. “And for €80?”
A niggling part of me thought she was right. “But,” I argued, “They said I could write about anything; I just have to link to their site.. I mean I link to sites all the time, many of them happen to be commercial! And Y is not immoral!”
“And,” I continued, ever more desperate. “Every time I want to watch a video showing death and destruction on the BBC website, I first have to watch a stupid ad telling me to ‘invest in reMARKable Indonesia.'”
“I know,” she sighed. “It’s terrible the Beeb does that.”
So, here I am, “selling out” for the first time. The compensation is €80 (I hope!) which will pay for my monthly transport. For the amount of hours I’ve spent thinking about how NOT to make this read like a sponsored post, it’s pittance.
If I were living in a time when people still paid for writing, I’d have earned a couple of hundred for this 800 odd-word piece.
But I’m not. I was born into the digital revolution.
So, for all the would-be bloggers out there, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to take yourself excessively seriously. Just like me.
Otherwise, the attention from the fans can get too much, and you begin to crave the days when your blog had a small, loyal readership and when you deliberated for days over whether to post a link to a website offering to help people see again.