Whether you blog for fun or profit, you may want to rethink your motives before your elected officials start doing your thinking for you.
According to the Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia bloggers are being charged a $300 business license tax, regardless of whether or not their blogs are profitable. This means even Philadelphia’s casual blogs will now have to conduct themselves as businesses.
And while this news may initially seem comparable to a health inspector shutting down a 7 year-old’s lemonade stand, the truth is, Philadelphia just might have this right.
After all, social media has been begging to be taken seriously for years.
If you attend any PodCamp or other social media meetup, one of the first questions out of anybody’s mouth is, “But how do I monetize???”
And now that the city of Philadelphia is rewarding bloggers by classifying them as businesses (so they can be taxed, and so the city’s underworked accountants can have something else to do), bloggers naturally do what they do best: they complain.
All of which begs the question: why are you blogging, anyway?
At What Stage Does a Blog Become a Business?
If you’re blogging as a creative outlet, but you have sidebar ads… is your blog a business?
If your blog is a self-promotional tool, but it leads to direct consulting or marketing work… is your blog a business?
If you’ve never written a post in your life, but you employ autoscripts that crawl, steal and repost other people’s content to drive up your SEO ranking so you can charge for more blog ads… are you a business?
I don’t know many people who blog and don’t hope for lots of traffic. But what do you need traffic for, unless you expect to (even indirectly) convert them into customers?
Do I think Philadelphia is being opportunistic, shortsighted and comically petty? Absolutely.
But if the blogging community tries to laugh this off, I think we miss an opportunity to look ourselves in the (collective) eye and ask a question so few of us bother to answer:
Why are we doing this, anyway?
Dig this blog? Subscribe and you’ll never miss a witty insight again.