I spent the day trying to implement the sponsored stages, and I found great resistance in doing so. There seems to be a friction between ideals and the urgent task of making some money. The inner conflict left me quite depleted, and when I met up with René at the gym, the conversation naturally turned towards monetization and then money in general.
It’s a really strange feeling: I honestly understand the motivation and the compatibility between creative endeavors and money making. I understand there is a transaction of value, and that it’s never wrong to take money from someone, provided that you provide them with equal value. But I seem to resent that the need for money is what is directing my actions.
A memory I have from my early internet days was a design blog which I admired. The author had become hooked to a telenovela and wrote a blog post about it. Suddenly, his blog became flooded with Google traffic, which was really positive for his AdSense income. Soon one out of every three posts was about telenovelas. The need for money subtly or evidently has an effect on our creative output.
It would seem the solution to this conundrum is that the transaction of value happens between the author and the end-user. Things get messy when the value is sold to a third party (Facebook selling users to advertisers, or writers selling to publishing houses, for example).
What am I selling then? I’m not selling users, for sure. I’m not selling my skills, that can only happen in commissioned work. René said it seems to be a rare chance where the advertising doesn’t get in the way, and the user gives it attention willingly. I think I’m selling brand recognition in a pleasant package.
Hmmm… that’s not a bad aim. I think the resistance has to do (at least in part) with the uncertainty over how much control to give a sponsor. The guiding principle seems to be: if it gets in the way of the user, then it’s a no go. We have enough annoying advertising on the internet, let’s not litter anymore.
Whew. I feel a bit of relief. With this in mind, I’ll create the landing page for sponsors sometime soon. I was dreading it, nothing good could come out of the feeling that I’m selling something out of need rather than conviction that it’s good value both for the user and the sponsor.