Hint: It’s not about the money.
Someone recently asked, ‘should I pay a membership to a blogging platform to potentially earn money through writing. I can not afford to waste money on another side-hustle that won’t pay-off’.
I had some advice for them as to why people write, and it isn’t really about the money.
Making an investment
Their question distilled into two key themes; should I invest in this membership, and is it a waste if I pay and then don’t earn money?
The simple answer is yes, and no — but only if you realize one key thing.
You need to realize you are not investing in a money-making opportunity, you are investing in yourself.
There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself. It is the best investment you can make; you can never go wrong with it. It is the true way to improve yourself to be the best version of you and lets you be able to best serve those around you.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
I have made the same investment. I pay to be a member so I can write and share my work, and that membership is my accountability measure.
A small monthly fee is enough to remind me to sit and write when I don’t feel like it. When I know I have to let the words out but can’t stay focussed. When I have an idea that needs to be expanded.
That small membership is enough of a reminder that I owe it to myself to write. I owe it to myself to grind when I don’t want to. Or let the words flow when I am in the groove.
I told them, they need to embrace the grind and remember there is no bigger return on investment than the one you make on yourself.
So, why do we write?
Not for the money.
I am not a prolific writer; I write for about six to eight hours a week, mostly on my weekends. I have a Monday to Friday job and I spend most of those 40-plus hours a week in front of a keyboard writing. It is not the same type of writing, but it feels similar.
For the time I spend writing on the membership site, my dollar return is low. But — the return on my investment is high.
I do not write to make money. Most people do not, even the most famous and successful authors will tell you that money is not the goal. But for some reason there is a bunch of new writers out there, looking to make a quick buck.
Karl Marx once said;
The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.
This is a truism.
Writers need to find their words from a place unconcerned with the outcomes. They refine and perfect their prose, not to maximize the earnings, but to maximize the value.
There are no quick bucks in writing. There are rewards though.
It offers you the opportunity to hone your craft and become a better writer. Becoming a better writer will make you a better speaker it will also make you a better person. For it is research at the heart of every story, and empathy is the route to the heart of any character in a story.
Research and empathy will make you a better person.
I asked them, what value would you place on that?
Why should we write?
If we do not write to make money, why do we invest our time? Why do I invest 25 to 40 hours a month writing — for fun?
There are aspects that are fun, there are aspects that are cathartic. There are even moments where it is exciting.
But the real reason to write is more fundamental.
You write because your thoughts are important. You write because you are brave and willing to expose those thoughts. But, most importantly, you write because you have something to say.
If, when you sit down to write, you remember those three things. It no longer matters about the initial investment or potential earnings. It doesn’t matter if it goes viral and reaches a million people, or it reaches just one. As long as it meets them when they need it.
Even better, if it meets you where you needed it to. Writing is hard. It takes an act of creative courage. Once it is out in the world you no longer have control of it, and that loss of control is scary. Each time you hit publish a part of your mind is exposed to the world.
So, do not write to make money. Write because you are brave.
Put your thoughts into words and let them out into the world.
Do it as often as you can, do it because it is good for you.
Then maybe — you’ll make some money.