What I sent

Yesterday, I applied for a grant. I think bloggers should get paid… something. It’s a hobby, yes, but it’s also a job. People rely on us for reading material. A few of the bloggers I follow have set up Patreon accounts. This is a blog-specific eCommerce interface, they call it croudfunding, where followers can make a one-time contribution or a recurring monthly payment. I think the mindset is “You like my blog, you ought to be paying for it.”

Other bloggers take a less direct, and in my mind, a much nicer approach. They ask you to buy them a cup of coffee. This is simply a link to Paypal.

Some bloggers run advertisements, they’re paid by the click. I asked a blogging friend how she did with her ads. “Oh, I make about a quarter a month.” Don’t laugh, it’s three dollars more than I make each year.

A year ago, I put a message in my sidebar: Blogging is a curious hobby. Lots of work, lots of stress, not much tangible reward. If you’d like to give something back, please buy my book. It’s only $4, and it’s surprisingly good. If you click on this message, you’re taken to my Amazon page. How often does it work? I’m pretty sure it never has.

My laptop is dying, again. It seems like it’s only been two years since the last one went, but really, it’s probably been four. Still, a decent laptop is a big expense, and if there’s one thing I wish my writing would fund, it’s a new laptop every few years.

This is what I sent:

Your name: Jeff Cann
Your email: jeff.t.cann@gmail.com
Project title: The Other Stuff
Project website: http://jefftcann.com

About the project (2000 characters):
Teeth on edge, scraping, my jaw gliding, forward and back, chin bobbing an undancable beat. Enamel upon enamel, microscopic fragments cascade in a daily toothfall. Year by year, eroding my smile to a border of graying stumps. Spearmint gum dredged from the glove-box restores a sense of calm. – from “The Motions of Tourette” published on “The Other Stuff.”

I don’t need $1,000, but $773.76 would surely help. My laptop is expiring. The hinge of the screen is breaking away from its base. This is how my last one died—slowly, with lots of duct tape. I blog. Yes, everyone blogs. Mine is pretty good. Four years ago, I created a blog about running. “Running, Writing, Other Stuff,” that’s what I called it. But there’s only so much you can write about running. Now it’s just called “The Other Stuff.” What other stuff? Tourette Syndrome; mental health; cultural opinion; a bit of running. It’s a blog of introspection, of awareness, of education.

I write essays, poetry and creative nonfiction. Twice I’ve distilled my work into books. Memoirs, essentially. I’m told they help people sort out their life. But my books don’t earn much money. One is actually free. And so, I’m requesting a ____________ Foundation grant—enough money for a laptop, Microsoft Word and a protection plan. My family isn’t wealthy. We’re not destitute either, but we make our dollars count. My cash outlay to pursue writing is laden with guilt. We need to replace the family room sofa too.

My blog URL is jefftcann.com. Not very catchy, I know. I was trying to turn myself into a brand. I launched it with my first book, hoping to become wealthy. Now I just want to write. I want to create, experiment, communicate and then share my output with my two thousand followers… on a laptop that isn’t falling apart.

Thank you for the opportunity to apply for this grant. This is a generous thing you do. The world clearly needs more support for the arts right now.

About me (500 characters):
Me: Old(ish), married with two teenagers, living in Gettysburg, PA. By day I manage finances at the Adams County Library System, and at night I try to craft words into something special. I initially started writing to try to understand the mental stuff that makes living difficult: Tourette Syndrome, as well as the anxiety and OCD that accompany it. In my writing life, my blog and my two books count as my proudest achievements. Receiving this grant would be added to that list.

My application has been received, and I’m awaiting a response. Success seems unlikely, but I had fun applying.

Have you ever tried something like this?

24 thoughts on “What I sent

  1. I haven’t tried it. Thank you, that was an interesting read. It reminded me of a time when I shared my nature photography on a site designed for sales. Although having a large following, I made only a few sales and ultimately reprioritised my time. Here, my needs are different. I don’t need the extra income. I respect your needs and your process. All the best with the grant.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The dream for so many of us is getting paid to write. I’ve yet to find a way – I don’t have the energy or interest to research SEO and ad revenue, which combined is I hear how you get the ‘big’ bucks (aka just enough to keep you afloat). Good luck with your grant. You’re an excellent writer, you deserve it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Having thought about this a bit, I’ve decided that a readership far beyond a bunch of wordpress users is necessary to get any financial traction. We all read good blogs all the time. To pick one or two to support seems unlikely to happen. I think you’re right about an understanding of SEO. It’s something that doesn’t interest me at all. I’d rather write. Thanks for the compliment.

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  3. That’s an idea! Keep us posted as to your success. I think your writing deserves a paycheck – good stuff. There are blogs that I follow that get a ton of traffic. One blogger whose posts get well over 100 likes mentioned that she was able to break even with the cost of her blog – so in a year she made $96 ish. I don’t know – it just gave me an idea of what it would really take to make my blog lucrative, or a real income, which isn’t really possible – at least not for my ability to figure out. Every time I try to update the blog I accidentally delete it. I can’t imagine doing anything more technical that would market it better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry. I laughed out loud when you said you deleted your blog. For ever, I’ve had a second failed attempt at a blog under my log in. I’m afraid to remove it because the chance of deleting the whole mess seems too high. I think your blog would be *relatively* easy to turn into a book that would have wide appeal for us parents entering the autism journey. Relative being an operative word.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve deleted it twice! Holy panic mode. All I was trying to do was add pages. Some (and only some) of my early posts I wish were more accessible. No one is going to go searching, nor would they think to search for them. And since I thought I needed a separate host when I started I have the worst time trying to get my stuff back. (My host is bluehost). I get your fear – I’d be afraid too. I know I am never changing anything big on mine for similar fears. Thanks for the feedback. I’ve toyed with the idea but am still so lost with it. And then I see a lot of other autism bloggers doing it and feel like I missed the boat. I keep hoping when the ideas click I’ll give it a try and see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well I encourage it. You’re ‘autism blog’ is very different from the other ones I’ve seen and considerably more interesting. And believe me, there are few things as cool as holding a book that YOU wrote (even if it doesn’t sell).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish you a lot of luck with the application Jeff. If you are unsuccessful then put out an appeal on your blog. I would certainly contribute what I can.
    I really do enjoy reading your blog and click through to your site now rather than just read the email.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John. I don’t think I’d be comfortable making that request. What we all need is a wealthy benefactor clicking through wordpress making contributions to the bloggers who are trying. If I ever win the lottery, I’m going to be that guy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve followed a few blogs that moved over to Medium, which from what I can see is somewhat like Patreon but for writers. I plan to sign up to them once I get a bit more income. I’d happily sign up for yours too if you ever move. Good luck with the grant!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I dabbled with Medium for a while. It felt like “one more platform that needed my attention” so I backed off. I’m pretty happy with my home on wordpress, but I see the lure of the wider appeal of medium.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeff, I hope you get the grant. When I was a teacher, I applied for plenty of grants. Received a bunch of them too. I use a free WordPress site and right now don’t really understand the process of making money from a blog, but I’m sure I could learn. Your blog is one of the ones I look forward to reading – not one that I read out of obligation. I understand what you are saying about only having so much to write about running. If I wrote about running all the time, I would definitely be scratching my head for subject topics. The other posts are more interesting to write (and I hope to read too). Now that I am finally home from my travels, I hope to be able to write some more “pithy” posts again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always read about people earning a living by blogging but I’m not sure how that can happen. There really aren’t any grants I ‘read out of obligation’ any more. I’ve slowly moved away from them and now, if one isn’t working for me, I just unfollow. Most of the writers I follow either write extremely well or they’re incredibly smart (or some combination of the two). They all deserve grants.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I tried for a grant to shoot a short film. It was a long and involved. I didn’t get it.

    I know what you mean about wanting to be paid SOMEthing for writing. I remember how stoked I was to be paid $10 an article for a local site. I’d be rich if I could make enough to pay for my gear. Hell, even if I could pay for my site.

    Best of luck!

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  8. Like you, I puzzle about how anyone makes any money at all from blogging. I suspect they are people who do the WordPress equivalent of Instragram ‘influencing’, a kind of prostitution of one’s popularity, from what I understand.
    The problem with WordPress is that almost everyone is a writer while few come just to read. Thus there are no obvious ways to monetise a blog. Even writing that word makes me feel unclean.
    Yet since landing a paid gig writing LP reviews for an on-line record store, I’ve had little time for Vinyl Connection, few opportunities to really keep up with blogs I enjoy, and have abandoned Lonely Keyboards almost entirely. Yet the last one was the writing outlet that gave me most satisfaction.
    Good luck with your grant. If it fails, try a ‘Cup of coffee’ button. I’d pitch in a fiver, and if 10% of your readership followed suit you’d have enough for a laptop and a large decaf.
    – Bruce

    Liked by 1 person

    • Decaf??? Lonely Keyboards gives me a lot of satisfaction too. I’d put it in my top 5 blogs. Your vinyl reviews rarely overlap with my genre interests. A couple of months ago, one of your posts reminded me of a book I wanted to recommend but I couldn’t remember the title (have you ever tried to look up a book title by googling the plot?) It just popped into my head today… Juliet, Naked. It’s the sort of book that only a person who has obsessed over bands and music could enjoy. Sort of like High Fidelity was, except this one is for middle aged people.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You make a compelling case for a grant, Jeff. As a fellow blogger and memoirist,
    I certainly understand your need and admire you for your resourceful approach. By the way, I also understand that giddy feeling when someone buys one of your books … even though the royalties and proceeds for 99% of us writers are paltry.

    Like

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