From Consulting to Doing

One of the most popular themes of blogging is how to make a living while blogging. Apparently some people make money by blogging about how to make money by blogging. And here I am blogging about people making money by blogging about making money by blogging.

It is like becoming an entrepreneur who offers consulting on becoming an entrepreneur. I don’t say it’s wrong or right; I just feel…awkward. Not about individual bloggers but about the whole blogosphere, filled with discussions and posts regarding this topic.

Blogging on blogging is, in short, (a) consulting to the (b) converted. These two points are where I feel awkward, and I would like to dig deeper into this issue.

Going consulting

Consulting itself is just a job category, maybe even a noble one, if we consider it part of the education industry. But it is never about doing something on our own; it’s about helping others do what they want.

Here, we need to stop and ask ourselves why we started blogging in the first place. It was probably because we wanted to establish our own brand or voice. We wanted to claim our independence, and wanted to make a difference in this world.

Then ask ourselves next: Why do we want to consult? Perhaps we wanted to break out of living our lives fulfilling someone else’s (= our employer’s) dream. Falling into consulting—unless your dream is to become a consultant—seems like going back to square one. Po Bronson, in What Should I Do With My Life?, sums up this question nicely.

Why was I bent on encouraging people to change their lives?…Because I have seen us glorify those who make decisions over those who enact decisions, prefer being a consultant to being fully engaged, being an investor to being invested in, being an advisor over being politically involved, being an expert over being partisan, being a news analyst over being a news gatherer—all in fear of the inflexible boredom of commitment?

Preaching to the converted

Another issue is that the whole consulting thing works mainly inside a small circle of bloggers: people who already share similar ideas and goals as you. But if you go too far in that direction, you are doing a glorified version of scratching each other’s back, eternally staying inside the small community of bloggers. A recent article (or warning) from Hugh MacLeod highlights this issue nicely:

We’ve written blog posts that other bloggers like (especially high-traffic, “A-Lister” bloggers who link to us). And we squealed like happy children when we saw our traffic stats spike up massively.
But at the end of the day, it’s not the A-Listers or the pajama-clad, Web 2.0 basement-dwellers who are paying your mortgage. It’s the regular shmoes with a regular problem who are willing to pull out their credit cards to get it solved.

We blog to be more authentic and to connect with the world outside our inner circle. I personally would love to see a blogging society in which growing a blog means offering something unique to bloggers and non-bloggers alike, and becoming a consultant is treated as a temporary solution for making ends meet—unless you are destined to become a kick-ass consultant.