$279 for three months. This is my last hosting bill. It takes me until January 31, 2017.
That night, a few weeks ago, when I finally decided to click on the “renew” button, I felt like a complete idiot. This little side project of mine is costing me money. And not just a couple of bucks per month, but actual money in real capitalist-free-world US dollars.
Clearly, I’m doing something wrong. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around, i.e. getting paid for blogging? Where is my side income, where are my blogging perks? Where is my success?
And why am I paying so much for hosting, you may legitimately wonder in the first place?
My hosting fees have been slowly creeping up for a few years. I used to be on a shared plan, but traffic went up and eventually, I was using too much resources for this kind of entry-level plan. I moved on to another hosting company, hoping I’d be fine with their cheapest plan, a few dollars per month. I wasn’t. Again, I—or rather, the traffic I was getting—was consuming too much resources. So I moved onto a virtual private server and hosting fees went up. Then I had to buy more CPU and more RAM, again bumping up the bill.
Over the summer, I investigated various options. What could I do on the technical side to reduce my impact on the world wide web? I won’t bore you with the details, but I added a cache, optimized the pictures and set up a plugin that ban IPs using brute force to crack my password—yes, there are hackers who dedicate their efforts to no-name blogs like mine. Crazy, I know.
I also researched various hosting plans and companies but the price range for what I needed was consistent. Alternative suggestions involved a lot of technical work on my side and frankly, I don’t have the skills nor the time to fully manage my own server, I need to rely on a good hosting company.
It came down to either paying hosting fees and keeping the blog online or just giving up on ten years of blogging.
I didn’t want to stop blogging. Like millions of people, I love writing and it’s just more fun when another lost soul, next door or across an ocean, read your words. I’m not competitive enough to even consider using another medium than my own blog—I won’t be a published writer because I don’t even have the guts to submit anything in the first place. I’m realistic enough to know I won’t be “discovered” and I don’t sit at Starbucks with my laptop drafting the next great Canadian novel.
I just write articles and hit publish, hoping that someone will enjoy them.
I get traffic, so some people must.
Is this a good enough reason to keep this costly side project of mine alive?
I firmly believe that not everything in life is supposed to be profitable. Sometimes, it’s good to do things because you want to, because it feels right, without expecting anything in return, whether it’s monetary gain or fame. We live in a society where we are coached on how to live, how to make money and how to behave as if life had a secret code to crack. Fuck this. Take a chance, and see what happens, once in a while. Do things for fun or just for the sake of doing it, because we are humans are this things-doing business is giving us a purpose in life as well as a sense of accomplishment.
Of course, this comes from someone who made many impractical choices in life—a degree in Chinese studies instead of a practical MBA, a freelance business instead of the well-paid government job I had, a Chinese husband instead of a monsieur français. Yeah, maybe taking the highway instead of the picturesque detour would have made my life easier.
Blogging is not a paid gig. I knew that. After all, I enjoy people’s writing for free as well when I browse the web and read bloggers and journalists who put their work online for us all to enjoy. Paying for blogging? I have to be honest, even after this hosting bill, I can still afford Mark’s Oreos and Goldfish crackers. Yet, part of me wonders how other bloggers land gigs or get awesome perks like nights in fancy hotels or plane tickets in business class while I’m stuck with Russian spammers.
I know. The world doesn’t owe me anything.
I should have marketed myself. I should have followed best practices in terms of SEO, like using consistent keywords, delivering short to-the-point messages. Be more present on social media. Write newsletters. Analyze stats and develop traffic building strategies.
I’m sure these tips work for a company website, but that’s the issue—I’m not a company. I’m just a girl with a laptop. I’m not selling anything and I’m not even sharing anything special or newsworthy other than the terribly mundane things that connect us as human beings—life experiences, feelings, trials and mistakes, successes and failures.
I’m just not marketable—at least not until a company trademarks human life.
In a way, this blog was—mostly subconsciously—my best shot at a piece of the American dream. You know the taglines and the script, “go big or go home”, the bum who became a millionaire, the nobody who became someone. Except that behind each success, there is a lot of work. And maybe I didn’t work hard enough to become a modest success.
In the meantime, I’m that cliché of a wannabe writer with poor marketing skills and a hope for fame and success.
I think I failed at some point but I’m not sure how or when. Now, do I whine like a French or fight like a North American?
I did charge the hosting bill on my credit card—that’s a Canadian move, for sure.