Artful Dodgers In The Blogosphere Mist

Spare us your wisdom
and send us your cash.
A twenty or a fifty …
… or something like that.
– Send Us Your Money (Judd Jugmonger)

Bloggers make for interesting sorts. Many start out as artists with their ‘craft’ in mind, and end up as marketers with ‘sales’ on their minds. The transmogrification of this species usually follows this pattern: I think therefore I am. I am therefore I create. I’m hungry. In fact, I’m starving. So, I create therefore I sell.

Today I read a post on another blog about writing. Well, actually it was about marketing under the guise of writing because no one with any flair for ‘the creative’ really wants to be a salesman. It’s true, isn’t it? If so, why do there seem to be so many blogging ‘artful dodgers’ in the blogosphere?

Of course, there’s really nothing wrong with being a salesman, and if you are good at it, like Zig Ziglar was, you can really make ‘top dollar’. But let’s be honest here: there’s no doubt that when a used car salesman or retail sales assistant makes a beeline for your cash, you quickly fend them off with “no thanks, I’m just looking!” … even faster than Capt. Kirk yells “Shields up, Mr. Sulu! NOW!” In other words, you wouldn’t want your daughter to marry one.

Species: Phylum Blogger Venditor

Evolutionary speaking, salesmen come in two forms. Firstly, there is the ‘good salesman’, also known as the power ‘closer’. With this type, your money’s gone before you’ve even reached for your wallet. He doesn’t ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage, he just moves in before you even know his name.

The second type of salesman is the ‘bad salesman’. He’s the type that believes all the fodder he reads about getting rich quickly and memorizes the scripts, pitches and ‘closing’ phrases of super salesmen. He spits them out verbatim at his customers with the hopes that the words alone will do their magic on the customer, as he’s been told will happen. By nature he may be a nice and well intentioned guy at first, but he is easily led to becoming more than what he actually is. Ultimately, he takes on a non-personae, becoming a ‘persona non grata’ as he takes on the personality of an automaton. Here’s an example:

Coco:
Dad, this is Mark. I told you about him. He, uh, would like to ask you a question.

Dad:
Hello, Mark. It’s nice to meet you finally.

Mark:
Good afternoon, sir. As you know, my name is Mark. Thank you for your time today, sir. I really do appreciate your choosing me.

Dad:
Uh … choosing you?

Mark:
I represent myself and I am committed to serving your daughter’s needs with quality and service to her satisfaction. Are you the decision maker in your household?

Dad:
Uh … huh? What’s this about?

Coco:
Dad! Give him a chance!

Mark:
I have a special offer I’d like to make to you but I first need to qualify that you are indeed the one who makes decisions in this household.

Dad:
What? Of course I make decisions! This is my house! What’s this all about?

Mark:
Great. I’ll take that as a ‘yes’. With this in mind, let’s get you started today.

Dad:
Started with what? What are you going on about?

Coco:
Dad! Stop! You’re embarrassing me!

Dad:
Me? I’M embarrassing you?

Mark:
Well sir. Can I just ask you, how many boy friends has your daughter brought to your home? And, how have they been working out for you in terms of satisfaction?

Dad:
Hey! What are you getting at?

Mark:
I understand completely how difficult your frustrations must be. And, because I appreciate your daughter and your time and patronage…

Dad:
What the hell? What is he blabbering about, Coco?

Mark:
… I’d like to offer you a low cost alternative to your daughter’s emotional needs. Because I have a very good ‘word of mouth’ reputation, I’m sure I can make your daughter happy.

Dad:
Are you some kind of a male hooker? Coco, what’s going on here? Look Mark, what are you intentions with my daughter?

Mark:
Dad! He’s asking you permission to marry me!

Dad:
Marry you!?

Mark:
Yes, sir. And if you act now…

Marketing people tend to think in terms of formulas, sort of like mathematicians. Statistically, if you ‘cold call’ enough people, some will buy … supposedly. But, you must always be selling. In fact, you must be ‘closing’ all the time. A-B-C: Always be closing. In blogging terms this means …. well, pretty much the same thing. There’s a great scene with Alec Baldwin in the film ‘Glenngary Glenn Ross‘ that illustrates this point. Is this who you want to be?

What’s A Penniless Blogger To Do?

Everyone appreciates the merit of art. Yet, despite the fact that most artists are struggling, no blogger realistically wants to be a ‘penniless blogger‘. Still, if you are one, you need to eat, and so you eventually begin to deprecate your artistic efforts. Countless blogs littered with ads and plastered with Visa and MasterCard images vie for your attention, beckoning you with slogans in bold letters such as “$$$ I did it and so can you! $$$”. Then, one day you have the following conversation at a ‘Quick Stop’:

Kilroy:
Hey, so like what do you do in your spare time, man?

Art:
I write.

Kilroy:
Yeah? Wow. Have you, like, been published?

Art:
Uh … no. I write a blog.

Kilroy:
Oh. So like, um, Tumblr? Squidoo?

Art:
No. I have my own blog … uh … self hosted. WordPress, you know?

Kilroy:
Oh yeah. So do you like make any money from it, dude?

Art:
…………… no.

Kilroy:
So like, I read about these guys who are like making gigazillions from blogging.

Art:
…………… yeah.

Kilroy:
So like, why aren’t you out there selling your work, man? I mean you should be doing it for ‘the greenage’.

Art:
………….. uh.

Kilroy:
Like, why are you wasting your time doing anything if you’re not getting paid to?

Art:
Well you see it’s not that … uh it’s not … uh.

Kilroy:
Do yourself a favor, dude, and sling the hash for the cash, man.

Art:
uh …………..

The literal tide turns as the bills keep washing to shore. You read about the power of SEO to ‘turn traffic into money’ and the marketing strength of ‘formulaic’ blogging; tried, tested and true ways of pushing content. You learn about the ‘how to’ post, the ‘list’ post and the ‘review’ post … and you begin to see dollar signs in your eyes, rather than ‘purple mountain majesties’. Still, because you feel it wouldn’t be good etiquette to just ask for the money, you feign a subtle nature or beat around the bush. You rely on an artless script to convey your forsaken art. Rather than marketing your creativity, you market tangible products. One day you write a post on existentialism, the next day you write about ‘Yet, the artist in you cries out, yearning to breathe. (Insert pregnant pause here). You decide you should be an author. And so … you decide to write an e-book.

The Penniless Blogger

Now, everyone knows that if you start out writing an e-book on how to make money blogging and try flogging it to the world, chances are no one will buy it. Therefore, you start out giving away your information for free. You write a blog and share your wealth of knowledge. It’s all nice and very humanistic. Life is good. Then the electric bill comes, or perhaps the ‘repo man’ takes your car with your poodle in it. So, you decide to ‘do something’ with all the content you’ve already given out for free. You repackage it into an ‘e-book’ and you sell it on your blog for $19.95 … for awhile. Eventually, you drop the price to $5.95 (an amazing savings of $14.95!).

Is this you? Then congratulations! How does it feel to be the blogging form of the Artful Dodger?

Telling The Truth & Being Yourself

Back in the 80s, I remember scanning the classified ads section of the newspaper for a job. There were always tons of ‘managers wanted’ ads and very few ‘salesman wanted’ ads. Of course, most of the ‘management’ jobs on offer were actually sales jobs, and specifically for ‘multi-level marketing’ (MLM) campaigns that would have you selling brand items like Herbalife, Amway, or holistic health products like the ‘Anal Ozonator’. You go to apply for the job and they talk to you about managing your clients, sales and ‘converts’ (friends and family) you will hopefully dupe into selling for you. There is lots of talk of ‘down lines’ and very little talk of ‘up lines’, which is actually where all the money you might earn would end up going to.

Why is it so hard for some people to just be honest? Why must they don a mask or a shade of a different color and repackage themselves? The answer is because honesty is not always the best policy. Here’s a case in point:

Shop Patron:
Hey! Can I take a dump in this store?

Shop Owner:
NO!

Shop Patron:
Aw… come on, man. Where’s the can? I gotta shit!

Shop Owner:
Fuck off or I’ll call security!

Applying a little tact will get you much further down the line, so you engage in pleasant subterfuge.

Shop Patron:
Pardon me. Do you have a restroom? I have to powder my nose.

Shop Owner:
Um … yeah, of course. It’s around the back, sir.

And, that’s just the way it is. The absurdity of it all. At some point we all need to take a good look in the existential mirror and decide who we are and what we want to be: salesmen, writers, marketing managers, bloggers, artists or artful dodgers. While it’s possible to mix colors and paint our wagons to our heart’s fancy, the reality is that most people who are able to call a spade a spade will still see us as naked as we really are. 

Suggested Reading:

Zig Ziglar\'s Secrets of Closing the Sale Over the Top Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can\'t Wait to Live

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