Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Shakespeare Industry

Like many bloggers, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me if I suddenly discovered I could make money from what I do.  I’m not ashamed of that.  If you told me I could write about Shakespeare all day and make a living at it, I think I’d take it.

So I spend a good deal of time keeping an eye on “how to make money from your blog” stories.  They have a common theme, which I find funny.  Namely, they all assume that if you want to make money, you have to be talking about making money.  Everything is an industry.

Take for example this list of blogging topics I found.  First one:

10 ways your industry will change next year


best industry resources


the invention that would rock your industry

So I’m sitting here thinking, “What exactly is the Shakespeare industry?”

I think there’s two ways to answer that question.  One is the more obvious, “How can I make money?”  There’s lots of answers – t-shirts, books, teaching, and so on.

The more interesting one, though, is more blog-centric.  And that’s, “Who is my audience?  Who is listening to me, and why, and what value do they hope to gain?”  In other words, I think what I’m saying is that there’s an industry of people out there who want more Shakespeare in their lives, and at least in theory are willing to pay for it.  The question then becomes how to connect those dots.

Aren’t those two the same?  Not really.  In the first, it’s “Figure out what makes money, and then do that.”  In the second, it’s “Figure out why people value what you’re already doing, and then plot a course between what you would have done anyway, and a way to make money doing it.”

(There is, by the way, a whole different answer to “Shakespeare industry” if we talk about the pop culture aspects – bumper stickers, bobble heads and such – that cater to anybody with disposal income.  I’d like to not be that, precisely because anybody could be that.  You don’t need to give a rat’s third left incisor about Shakespeare to sell stuff with Shakespeare quotes on it.  I’m far more committed to carving out my own path, and then figuring out whether anybody else is interested in being where I’m trying to get.)

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