Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Only Saying This Once Because It's Really Weird

The more careful amongst you will have noticed a couple of changes to the website in the last couple of days. The google ads are a basic staple of most websites out there, so I don't really have much to say about that. But I have also added a Paypal donate button, right up top, which I think deserves some comment.

First, and most trivially, this button allows those who would like to (monetarily) reward your humble blogger with the opportunity to do so, all with a click of a button and a credit/debit card (or a Paypal account). So that's the what. The why is a bit more torturous. This will be a bit of a stream of consciousness, so bear with me.

When I first started blogging more than three years ago, I did so because I loved writing and opining on things I cared about, from politics to sports to random shit on Youtube. I did it whenever I found the time, and I loved (and continue to love) doing it. I never imagined that we'd get to the point where we have the number of readers we do -- not an overwhelming amount by any stretch, but enough to make us proud. I never imagined that we'd get quoted by the BBCs and ForeignPolicy.com's of the world and I certainly never imagined that people other than our close friends would care about what we have to say. The fact that we have exceeded those expectations speaks to the power of the medium (i.e. the internet), where everyone is created equal, and it doesn't matter where you went to school, who your father is, how big your house is and so on. If you keep producing content, people will come. That's the nature of the enterprise.

About some time last year, I started thinking about ways to make this blog more than a hobby, or at least a profitable hobby. I kept putting real decisions off, however, because the idea of money makes me intensely uncomfortable. I really don't like talking about it -- just ask the W. I've always been the type of person who tries to live carefully, be frugal, and assume that by doing so, I save myself the incredible awkwardness of actually having to think about money. By and large this tactic has been successful, despite being a graduate student, not exactly the most lucrative thing a 20-something can do. Getting married last year changed this a little bit but hardly significantly.

There hasn't been some game-changing experience recently, but I simply bit the bullet and added the ads and the donate button. I felt that there would be little direct harm, but some possible gain, so I may as well roll with it. I know a bunch of our readers really like our blog, some just read it to waste time, and some positively hate us and our ilk (you know who you are). I'm hoping that people from the first two categories, on days when they're feeling extremely generous and when I've written something they particularly enjoyed, donate whatever they feel is appropriate. Think of it as Radiohead's last album release, except 4500 times less entertaining and brilliant.

There are a few obvious questions that pop up immediately. First, why the hell should anyone pay me for content when they get much more important content (newspapers, TV shows, sports websites etc) for free? Frankly, I don't have a good answer for that question. I guess one difference is that those people are already paid for their content by their employers, whereas I don't have one. Also, you still get this content for free; you only pay if you want to.

Second, since when did I become such a sell-out? Well, since yesterday.

Third, will the content change at all? No, of course not. I'm not beholden to any particular corporation or advertisement force, so there are no conflicts of interest. Though it will be mighty suspicious if I suddenly start blogging about the wonders of PayPal.

So yeah, that's it. Frankly, I don't even know if this is going to be a massive waste of time and effort, but I suppose we shall see.

16 comments:

Ribosome said...

This is one of the best blogs coming out of Pakistan. The quality of writing as well analysis is quite good. I'm sure you can find ways to monetize in addition to Paypal and Adsense. Why not syndicate content to a newspaper or just get into independent journalism if that's your calling?

BTW I'd definitely part with my rupee once you write a pro-India article....just kidding.

foolsparadise said...

This blog rocks, I am a huge fan of yours Ahsan!! also, try "adbrite" to bring more hits/reads & ads.

bubs said...

I would suggest you add an option like Moneybookers in addition to Paypal. A lot of the readers will be from Pakistan and Paypal doesn't accept Pakistani credit cards.

Farooq said...

Heeeeeeeeyyyyy Bubs. Miss you man. Really miss the days when we had two contributors to this blog.

Jaydev,India said...

"the idea of money makes me intensely comfortable."
i guess it was (un)comfortable right..may be it whizzed above my head..delete my comment after edit..
if any..

somethingrichandstrange said...

'I kept putting real decisions off, however, because the idea of money makes me intensely comfortable.'

you mean intensely uncomfortable...?

Ahsan said...

Ribosome, foolsparadise and Bubs:

Thanks for your suggestions. The blog is already becoming a little cluttered in terms of space, so I don't want to add too much more, but the Pakistani credit card thing is obviously an important point. Let me investigate this further.

Jaydev and somethingrichandstrange:

I was expecting accusations of Freudian slips there. Thanks for resisting and pointing out the error.

Bibi said...

Like the others have mentioned, this blog is absolutely amazing! Some would say its the bomdotcom :D. haha Big fan of your writing. So yes, whenever this college student has money, she will gladly put it towards fiverupees. :)

Jaydev,Pacifistan..err..India said...

Keep the awesome blog going..whatever it takes..
& if possible drag Bubs back into 5rupees team..

pishipotty said...

I've been here 5 times today and the only Adsense ad I see is for Scientology.

Could this be Scientology's way of expanding in to Pakistan?

I think, yes.

adeel said...

On a sidenote, this venture puts the name of this blog in a fairly new perspective, no?

BTW, I love your work too (also inspirational). Hopefully, that day when I'm feeling generous will come soon enough.

zeyd said...

Well at least you added the sell-out bit, saved me the effort.

And whatever dude, I'll pay you in the form of a perishable commodity.

Anonymous said...

Many congratulations on becoming such a popular and successful blogger. Your best post was categories of Indian readers. I wish you start blogging on Indian topics as well.So that Indian readers can contructively contribute to your blog.

Anonymous said...

So wait how does the money get split? What about the other 2 (in)frequent contributors? What if someone donates money because they really liked an article by the other 2? Doesn't seem fair

dudelove said...

..and so begins the money strife!

Murdabad said...

I will give you 5 rupees for everyday from November onwards, thats $22 a year. :( i'm sorry i work and i study but i also spend a lot of time here)