The Pearls Before Swine comic strip had a very funny mini-series of strips on blogging for money recently. I cut one of them out and put it on my refrigerator.
Photo: The kitchen table is always weighed down, as is my brain.
PIG: Hey, Rat... Mind if I borrow this cardboard box I found in your closet? I'm starting a blog.
RAT: A box? What do you need a box for if you're doing a blog?
PIG: For all the money I'm going to make.
RAT to GOAT, at restaurant: Are there interventions for stupidity?
Stephan Pastis, the author of the strip, loves to talk about boxes of money. But he's hit on a truth, which is that in this brave, new world of Internet communication and entertainment, you can't just put up a blog and watch the money roll in.
Then there is Gary Vaynerchuk, the Internet wine celebrity and marketing and motivational guru, who thinks that online and word of mouth is the way to go for big advertisers, and bloggers who've "got the chops" have a big potential for earnings once advertisers realize this.
Gary's passionate riff on word of mouth ("Building brands and building businesses has always been about word of mouth") got me thinking about "always," which got me thinking about the ancient world.
Doxa, a Greek word used most famously by Homer, means what others say about you that leads to a good reputation. The one-word traditional translation is "glory," but word of mouth might be a better three-word one.
Homeric warriors fought for, lived for, and defended their doxa. A good reputation was everything to them. The entire plot of the Iliad is based on a simple set of insults exchanged by two warriors with big doxa who didn't want to back off and lose face.
All of which led to big word of mouth for Homer.
So Gary is right that word of mouth goes back thousands of years. We are a social species, for sure, and we have evolved a way of surviving and thriving that has to do with communication.
So does this mean BwP is going to turn into a big money-making blog? Not in its current incarnation. I think there's a limited audience for people who want to read a myth geek's musings. But with a tweak or two, who knows.
Anyway, I haven't picked out a cardboard box yet.