As I mentioned last night, I added a few new websites to my sidebar links. One interesting add was a site called Zilla of the Resistance, which I had originally run across via a link from The Other McCain. But what sparked my interest again was a link to her from another Maryland-based site called The Vail Spot, which I also link to. Both Vail and Zilla have something in common which I’m sure they aren’t proud of, but has been an issue: the writers have had recent financial hardships, for various reasons, and both were assisted by the generosity of their reader base.
For several years, the story has been that those on the far left have had a wealthy benefactor (or group of several) who pays them well to advance a particular narrative within the media – many claim George Soros is one such patron. Whoever it is, this person or group invests their money and those far-left website writers grab enough to make a decent enough living off spewing bilge about Republicans in general, and the pro-liberty and TEA Party movements in particular. On that point, Zilla notes:
Unlike the well funded left, Conservative bloggers get no support from any big organizations, there are no blogger Sugar Daddies for Conservative bloggers, not even from the right.
These stories go on to compare the huge money being raised for national political campaigns, of which only a small portion will go to the eventual GOP nominees, to the funding which would be necessary for the creation or expansion of a credible conservative news source. (Remember, there are already a number of conservative news outlets, but they tend to be small potatoes compared to the big guys in television and print media.) Just as one example, based on the September 30 FEC numbers for Presidential hopefuls, Tim Pawlenty – who bowed out of the race last August – still raised (and spent) over $4.5 million on his failed bid. Even at that early stage, GOP presidential campaigns had raised over $90 million. Consider that as you read on.
I daresay that $50,000 a year invested in an erstwhile conservative muckraker would do far more good for the conservative movement than having to spread it around as drops in a bucket to a dozen Congressional candidates (because individual donations are limited by law) or even into a PAC or SuperPAC that may decide to support a RINO not of your choosing.
Awhile back, I had to make a choice. While I’d love to do this website on a full-time basis along with the writing work I currently do for other clients, the money is just not there to do it as the situation currently stands. Yes, I have a reasonably decent audience for a website which is only updated once or twice a day – if you look at other websites with comparable Alexa numbers locally you’ll find they’re updated a lot more with content taken to some degree or another from other sources. On the other hand, I do more original writing and that takes a lot more time and (dare I say) thought. I’d stack my work up against pretty much anyone else out there.
But that choice also means I’ve not recently found myself in that same situation the Vails and Zilla found themselves in. I’m blessed to have a roof over my head and food on the table, partially through my outside efforts and with a little bit of help from everyone from my advertisers to those who pay me to write to the people who actually hit my tip jar every so often. To all them I give my thanks on a regular basis.
Still, I would love to have the opportunity to cover Maryland and national politics on a full-time basis and expand my audience by creating more content. In theory, I could probably have several more posts a week, cover more breaking stories on a local and national basis, and perhaps even enlist the services of other professionals when needed. My website has primarily been a DIY operation from day one, but it could be improved with more professionals working in areas where I’m not as strong – for example, it’s not easy to write and take pictures.
There’s no doubt in my mind this situation isn’t unique to me – a fact plain to see by the amount of pixels already devoted to the subject. As I stated a couple months back when I celebrated monoblogue’s sixth anniversary, one of my goals was to have 6 to 10 advertisers on my site. It wouldn’t pay all my bills by any stretch but it would be a help.
I really don’t have a need to ‘bleg’ people to hit my tip jar, but it’s always there if you feel the desire to assist me in my efforts. I’d rather sell the ads, though, because then I feel like I’m providing more of a service that way.
The way I look at it, God gave me talent in certain areas and shorted me in a few others to balance things out. For example, I’d have loved to be a professional baseball player but I couldn’t lay off the high fastball, the curveball in the dirt, or throw strikes on the black to save my life. Thus I was the guy who sat on the end of the bench until my junior year in high school, when I couldn’t play anymore due to other commitments on my time. Marketing myself is another skill which doesn’t really come naturally, but enough people have convinced me I have talent to give me the confidence to secure some nice writing jobs.
My best estimate is that, in America, there are 150 million adults in this country who are conservative in some way, shape, manner or form. It doesn’t matter if they’re men or women, black or white, gay or straight, or how they worship – somewhere they hold an agreement with at least some part of conservatism’s core beliefs. Of that group, maybe 10 percent pay close attention, so we’re down to 15 million. In turn, out of that subset, perhaps 10 percent have something to give to the conservative cause so we’re down to 1.5 million. Finally, only a tiny fraction of that group have the talent, patience, and wherewithal to express themselves well enough to have some sort of audience – I’d say that would be 1 percent of the last subgroup, or maybe 15,000 people. And my guess is that figure is representative of the number of significant conservative bloggers out there. That’s about 300 per state, if you do the math – needless to say, some states have more than others but I think 300 is a fair average.
So let’s say a number of wealthy patrons decided to undertake such a project. I assure you that if we in the conservative new media would have the funding necessary to add that missing link to the movement and enable people like Robert Stacy McCain, the Vails, Zilla, and the rest of us who have the talent to uncover the excesses of the statists, bring them to the attention of the general public, and provide cogent comment on real, pro-liberty solutions with the guidance on how best to achieve them, our team would quickly smash the dominance of the what Rush Limbaugh has called the “drive-by media.” After all, most Americans really don’t want to hear how bad our country sucks and that its best days are past, otherwise Air America would still be a thriving enterprise.
Would there still be bloggers who need to rely on the goodness of others to get through their personal financial setbacks? Of course there would, for any endeavor is fraught with risk. But there are those out there who can prove that a rising tide indeed lifts all boats. It’s time for people to step up to the plate and think about the political movement rather than the movement politician.
Update: I’m happy to report that Robert Stacy McCain found his way home and then to Florida to cover last night’s debate in person. And Marianne (Zilla) managed to do well enough with her appeal to not only stave off the electric company but pay a few other bills. “(W)hile it will still be a struggle, at least we are no longer hanging off the edge of a cliff by our fingertips,” she wrote.
And I had an interesting conversation with a friend about this as well, so it was a win-win all around. So how about a proactive strike at my tip jar, or even better: consider advertising on this site.