with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
I feel like I’ve written about this before… possibly because I’ve, y’know, written about this before. In fact, a quick poke through the archives here revealed that years ago, after appearing on The Today Show, I felt quite invaded to suddenly have so many people interested in how much money I make. I tend to be a private person, and I was raised to believe you don’t just go around asking people about their finances. Now, I absolutely believe in freelancers forming a helpful community where like-minded folks can learn from and help each other, and in that context, I think talking about money is logical and a good idea. But just general sort of “what do you make?” kinds of things? I find that tacky.
(This comes as a huge shock to you, I know.)
Anyone who has ever formed any sort of working relationship with me knows that I have no problem discussing business in a business or mentoring context. But now I’m wondering if “honesty” and “transparency”—qualities I think are necessary for success in this line of work—should extend to one’s financials.
I didn’t just wake up one day thinking about salaries, of course. This started rather unexpectedly because of an interaction I witnessed (where else?) online.
When I first started Want Not, frugal blogs were few and far between. Sure, there were “coupon boards” out there, but bloggers hadn’t yet run with the idea, so much. Then the economy crashed and now my little money-saving blog is a small fish in a gigantic pond of people trying to live more frugally and make some money through sharing that. That’s fine with me; I believe the ‘net is big enough for all of us, friendly competition is generally a good thing, and in many ways having so many colleagues in this particular niche has only made me learn more and become better at what I do. All good!
Recently I was added to a closed group of deal bloggers for the purposes of discussing matters relevant to our sites. I rarely check in there, actually, because as someone with several thousand unread messages in my inbox, I don’t have the time. But after I heard a couple of friends discussing something there, curiosity got the better of me and I had to go look.
Someone commented that “if you’re making tons of cash on your site, it might be time to remove the piece on the front page that says you blog because you’re having financial difficulty.” The debate that followed this statement was amazing to me.
Most participants in the discussion were in total agreement with the original poster. But several pointed out that it’s not for anyone else to judge what constitutes financial hardship, and that finger-pointing and “hating” saddens them, etc.
I had to take a few minutes to figure out why this was bothering me. Truly, I agree with the original poster. It feels disingenuous to me for someone to be saying that their blog is there because they’re poor, when they clearly… aren’t. But I also agree that it’s probably not anyone’s business, not really, and what purpose is served by discussing this? (Apparently most of the folks in the discussion knew who was being referenced, though I did not. Again, see: several thousand unread emails.)
For me, the crux of what bugs me about this is not that anyone’s entitled to know anything else about someone else’s financial status, but that allegedly (again, I don’t know) it appears a blogger is sort of portraying themselves as something they’re not. To me the problem here isn’t actually about money, it’s about honesty and integrity.
So no, it’s not that we’re entitled to know what someone makes. But certainly for those of us blogging about money, it erodes credibility if we’re not honest about our own financial situation. And that doesn’t mean sharing tax returns on our sites, or anything, it just means not claiming to be poor if you’re not. And for me, personally, I’m part of this community of frugal bloggers, and while what anyone else is doing isn’t really my business, I prefer that there not be a prominent blogger misrepresenting themselves in a way that casts all of us into a suspicious light.
On the other hand, I think I just keep on doing what I do, conducting myself in a way I find appropriate, and don’t really worry about it. But… does this sort of thing send more folks my way who feel entitled to ask probing and inappropriate questions about what I earn? Yeah. And that’s a bummer.
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