Over the last few days I've read a number of blog posts which are all around the theme of professionalism, blogging and new media that's gotten me to thinking about the subject.
Mike Arrington wrote a post early this week about bloggers raising money, the politics involved, and how he has a vision of a group of elite (not 1337) bloggers assembling to take on companies such as C-Net with the goal of extracting the talent from there when they close and move on to the next target.
Robert Scoble wrote a response post on how this was the wrong approach. He discussed the changes to the blogging community. How he's less interested in money and more interested in building the community, having new experiences and building something with a bigger purpose.
Evo Terra wrote a post independent of the above 2 discussing the costs involved in making an episode of "Ask A Ninja" (roughly $6K an episode). He asks the question he concludes with the question "How much do you invest in the PROFESSIONAL part of your podcast — audio or video?"
Where, this might sound like an exercise in name dropping, it's really to set up a question.. When did blogging, podcasting, new media, etc become about making money... whey did it stop being about fun? Where I think the current livejournal strike is a laugh on some level these people get it more then anyone else. They are in this for fun, not profit, not opportunities. They sense that they might be losing the culture they've helped create and they rise up and "strike".
Scoble's points are closest to mine. It's not about financial profit for him, it's about the experience. But even as he was discussing the old days at no point did he say that most of the old folks get into it for fun, something to occupy the time between jobs during the darker times when work was scarce. A way to keep folks skills together. Somehow still he doesn't mention enjoyment, which amazes me because Scoble is the poster child for "do what you enjoy and everything else will follow".
When I blog I do it for an audience of one, me. If someone else enjoys it, great... if not oh well. Admittedly this might be mental masturbation but most of my posts get a few hundred hits, some less, some considerably more when they've gotten picked up elsewhere. At the end of the day, where I don't wonder if my post is going to be interesting to anyone else because would take the fun out of this.
I'm in the early stages of launching 2 new podcasts, the first a fandom podcast with a number of friends from a fangroup I'm in. As we were discussing what we were planning, it really came out that we are going to do what we want to do, for fun.. and it doesn't matter if we get anyone outside the group listening.
The other will simply be me talking to friends out in section 39 when I head to games at Yankee Stadium (assuming I figure out a way to sneak the equipment into the Stadium). As you can imagine, there's little to make that podcast sound professional and I don't care. There are a number of interesting people out there, and I think their stories would be fascinating.
Not log ago folks were were discussing how all you need to podcast was a tin can and piece of string attached to your computer and have something interesting to say now we're discussing how much people are investing in the professional part of their podcast.
You may say "but Sean, if we treat this more professionally, we might get more readers / listeners / viewers, isn't that more important then fun?". 99% of bloggers and podcasters won't be able to support themselves off their work; it's just a labor of love. The only thing that will keep you doing it is the joy you get from creating content. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Evo in a diner a while back. We were discussing podcasting and growing an audience. He said to me "Imagine you had a deal with a local library where you could give a talk. If each week 20 folks showed up and listened to you you'd consider yourself a success. Why is it any different with a podcast?"
So, let me ask a question... what have you done to make your podcast / blog more fun?