I grew up a privileged kid. Not private-boarding-school privileged, but certainly computer-in-my-room, internet-access privileged. I learned most of what I know about programming and the internet in my spare time. I helped create and run the very-successful Uniball, a huge learning experience for me: I dealt with hundreds of players in my leagues and on the chat service, dealt with technical issues, and even supplied and hosted a game server, all for free (1500 hours and 18,000 lines of code). I made free game frameworks, free time-card applications, ray-tracers. I contributed to an open-source physics simulation engine. My interests shifted towards education and I started contributing for free to the blogosphere, writing this blog, leaving comments on the blogs of others, and now tweeting (follow @rileylark).
I’ve done all of this for no money; the experience and the learning has been its own reward (and I got a job at Microsoft for my Uniball work). In this community of free contributions, doing anything to make money is frowned upon, actually. There’s a pressure not to be making money and not to be looking for the most followers, etc. Your work should speak for itself, and your learning and fun should be the only reward!
Well, I have an announcement to make. Next year I will be drastically reducing my hours at school in order to write software to better support teachers in the switch to and maintenance and improvement of standards-based grading. My steady yearly income will drop to something like $10,000, which is, as they say, not enough. I’m betting a year of my life on the software I plan to create.
Developing great software is hard, but I can do it – I have tons of practice, both professionally, academically, and as a hobby. What I don’t have practice with is intentional networking. About 180 people follow this blog (thanks! I’m glad you like it!), but I’m going to need more exposure than that if I’m going to support myself on my own handiwork – I know what your budgets look like.
Now, finally, the point: the last 15 years of internet social experience are telling me not to publicize. Don’t add “Tweet this post” buttons to your posts, and don’t put ads on your pages! Looking forward to a profession based on the internet, though, shows me that I have a lot to learn about marketing and revenue. So, I’m adding these things to my blog as experiments. If you think they’re trashy, please let me know. If you don’t notice them, please let me know. If you like tweeting about stuff when you’re given a little box, please let me know!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What place does marketing have in our blogging community? What about money? How do you feel about tweeting your own horn?