On Making Dollars and (Hopefully) Sense

money jar

Well, folks, the time has come: I’m monetizing this mofo. Specifically, I’m going to start adding affiliate links to a few of my posts.

Wait wait wait! Don’t run away! Let me explain what I’m doing, and then you can decide that I’m the worst and you hate me. Okay? Cool.

I’m dipping into the affiliate marketing business for one (exceedingly simple) reason: all this blogging takes time, and that time is uncompensated. Do I seriously enjoy blogging? Yes, I seriously do; I’d do it all day if I could. But I’m taking a cue from Rebecca Schuman, and countless other academic bloggers: when we treat our work as a “labor of love,” we’re essentially inviting that labor to be undervalued, both financially and socially. I no longer use that language to describe teaching, so I’m not going to use it to describe writing either.

None of this is to say I anticipate raking in the dough here at SMDS. Hardly.

I’ve discussed reframing multiple times on this blog, and that’s essentially what I’m doing now. I’m making a statement about my own value. I don’t want my readers (the vast majority of whom are cash-strapped grad students) to go out and buy things they don’t want or need. I will, however, happily take some of the money that’s already out there, that I generated—albeit indirectly—through my writing. I won’t go out of my way for it, but when it makes sense, I won’t shy away from passive income out of “principle.” Even a couple pennies in the ole’ savings account will go a long way in helping me justify SMDS’s presence in those (annoying) moments where it feels like a frivolous indulgence.

So how does this change your experience as a reader? It doesn’t, period. Unless, of course, you want it to.

For example, in my next post, I’ll be reviewing Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. Before—if you decided a book I reviewed might be worth a read—you would make a mental note, open another window and buy it on Amazon, or add it to your library list. Now, if you decide you want to buy it, you’ll be able to click an Amazon link on by website and buy it immediately. Here’s the cool part: let’s say you click through the link to buy the book, but decide against it. You buy a salad spinner instead, because hey, who doesn’t love a salad spinner? Well, I’ll get a commission for that sale, because I’m the reason you went onto Amazon.com in the first place. Of course, I make very little money from this transaction, but it’s a cool way to support the blog, without actually doing anything you wouldn’t be doing already.

Here’s what I won’t be doing: I won’t link to or review products willy-nilly. I won’t suddenly turn SMDS into an all-book-review website, nor will I suddenly start touting the benefits of a new and exciting grad-student-specific snake oils. If an affiliate link appears on my site, you can be sure I’ve purchased and used the product myself. I also won’t tell you to buy it. In fact, in my upcoming review, I’m going to suggest that you not buy The Miracle Morning (spoiler alert), but that little link will be there in case you see a value I in the book that I don’t… and just in case you’re still thinking about that salad spinner.

“The Six Million Dollar Scholar” is the personal blog of Andrea Milne, a Ph.D. candidate in modern U.S. History at the University of California, Irvine. To get the story behind the blog’s name, click here.

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