Matt Thompson: "payment may not always be monetary."Definitely not what most folks in the room wanted to hear! But as Arnie commented to me, it's like health care: outcomes are measured in much more than money. You don't go to the doctor based on how much money his prescription or treatment will help you make; you go for your health. We don't blog just to make a million bucks (though don't let me stop you from making a donation!). We blog to contribute a valuable service to our communities: telling stories, building social capital, weaving a thicker social tapestry.
Blogging for profit may cause us to fall victim to the GDP Fallacy: making money doesn't mean we're succeeding. Think of your community blog like Cheers. Remember Sam? He didn't value that bar for the money he was making. He valued it for the people, the community. Of course, he wasn't running the bar as a charity; he had to pay the rent. But when Sam closed the show saying, "I'm the luckiest [s.o.b.] in the world," he wasn't thinking of his bank balance.
We do need to pay the bills, and a number of folks at JTM convened sessions on business models, insurance, and other pocketbook issues. Alas, I can't tell you much about them. I told myself I was going to this conference to learn how others have found ways to turn their online efforts into financially sustainable enterprises, but every time I saw such a discussion posted, I saw another session on Democracy 2.0 or government transparency, and I forgot all about business. Silly me—always putting the commonwealth ahead of financial wealth. ;-)
Paying the bills is nice. We can only do so much for free or for love. But even if we start breaking even or better, we always need to build social capital, not just the capital in our bank accounts.